Photo: Lauren KcKinnon
I wasn't prepared for the 180-degree turn my life would take when I started my own business.
Once I left what I thought was the daily grind for more freedom, strange things started to happen.
The lines between work and personal time, which I was able to draw so clearly when I was working at my full-time job, started to blur -- breakfast and lunch would sometimes pass me by without my noticing that I hadn't drunk an ounce of water or eaten anything. By 4 p.m., I'd be starving and inhale anything and everything that was put in front of me.
More anxiety and feelings of overwhelm began to creep into my days.
I'd get so wrapped up in work that I'd miss my workouts (which was ironic, considering that my mission is to help others to get healthier, leaner and fitter) and I'd still be at my computer when 1 a.m. rolled around.
Falling asleep gradually became more difficult because my mind was constantly racing, thinking about the long list of things I needed to do.
My ticket to freedom was starting to run my life, and I knew I needed to get myself together before my health (and sanity) started to take a nose dive.
To get out of this slump, I've revised my priorities and started to take control of my habits, instead of allowing them to control me.
Here's what I've been doing to get closer to regaining that balance, and how you can too.
1. Starting the day hydrated
Having an ice-cold glass or two of lemon-infused water is the first thing I do after I wake up every morning. The effects of this simple habit are amazing: My energy starts perking up after glass number one, and half-way through glass number two, my head feels clearer and my body feels more alive.
I follow up with a glass of water before each meal, and another two or three in the evening before and after my workout. Another great side effect I've noticed from practicing this habit: It helps stop me from snacking unnecessarily when I'm not hungry.
2. Doing a daily 5-minute mind-body 'reboot'
Within an hour of waking up, I head to my yoga mat to sit still for about 5 minutes (sometimes longer) to pay attention to my breath, the thoughts (good and bad) that go through my head, and the physical sensations they create in my body.
I just breathe, listen and feel without judgment. Then, I set a new intention for my day, visualize the steps I need to take to achieve it before gently easing myself off my mat to get to work with calm, clarity and less stress.
If I'm having a particularly challenging day, I'll do this more than once to reboot and re-center.
3. Being mindful of the role food plays in my life
Food plays a big, big role in how I look and feel--the wrong things make me feel bloated, low on energy, cranky and just generally unwell, so every two to three days, I spend about 10 minutes doing an internal food review where I ask myself: Have I been eating in a way that supports my life, wellbeing and business goals? If my answer is no, I come up with small tweaks I can start applying immediately to change this.
4. Slowing down my meals
When I'm rushing through the day, sometimes the last thing I want to do is have a leisurely meal because I know I can get more done if I eat more quickly.
However, I've realized that I should, in fact, devote 20 to 30 minutes to each meal and here's why: We spend seven to eight hours a night sleeping to recharge our mind and body, so why not make the time that we use to nourish ourselves just as sacred?
When I'm savoring every bite and really taking my time to enjoy my food, eating almost becomes a meditative experience that allows me to switch off, get centered and eat until I'm 80 percent full (or what the Japanese call hara hachi bu)--a key habit that stops me from eating too much of anything.
5. Scheduling time to move with purpose
If I head into my day hoping to exercise at some point, I have to be honest: I'll often find myself sidelining my workout in favor of more 'important' tasks.
Instead of relying on willpower, I now pencil my workouts into my schedule for specific days at the same time, so I don't have to think about them. I've also outsourced the programming of my sweat sessions to someone else by signing up for classes at a local CrossFit box, freeing my headspace for other things.
This way, heading to my workouts becomes more or less automatic and I don't miss out on including one of the most powerful ways to boost my creativity and metabolism, as well as bust stress from my day.
By deliberately slipping them into my schedule, I let my brain know that "hey, this task is just as important as everything else that I need to do for my business", and it works like a charm every single time.
Are you an ambitious woman who's struggling to find balance in your life? If your answer is "yes", let me know what you're having trouble with below.