"Can you please be quiet, I'm thinking"

The past few weeks I’ve really been grappling with finding a sense of balance in my life and figuring out the best way to make things run smoothly, be productive, and be happy- and maintain some level of sanity, if that’s possible.  We’ve just wrapped up our busiest time of year at work, a period of about 2-4 weeks that triggered all these questions.   My training has also shifted post-Games and these days it’s taking me much longer to get in and out of the gym every day.  Add to that my son’s constantly changing needs and I’m left feeling like there’s a lot to evaluate.  I don’t believe you can have it all and certainly not all at once, so my family, work and Crossfitting are the things on the top of  my priority list right now.  (My work is only on the list as it directly facilitates the well-being of my family and my Crossfitting- not because it is a passion like the other two items.  But that’s an issue for another blog post).

I will be honest; this is the first period of time in my short Crossfit life that balancing training, working and being a mother has been difficult.  Last year I wouldn’t even call what I was doing “training.”  I was just working out.   I didn’t have specific goals and I would basically be at the box for my one hour class.  I did what my coach said and didn’t put a whole lot more thought into it than that.  When I spent extra time on Crossfit and fitness it was because I had extra time to give, with the exception of pre-Games training, of course.  Pre-Games I had a little taste of this juggling act.  I remember one particular Friday night I had to fit in a second workout and brought my son along to play at the box.  He fell asleep on the way, I carried him into the gym and he slept through my entire workout, blaring music and all.  As parents everywhere know, a long, unexpected nap might seem like a good thing at the time- but just try getting the kid to go to bed that night.  Mommy fail.

The grocery store is boring? Well wake up, Mommy needs you to sleep tonight!

Since August 1, 2011 I’ve been training.  It’s very focused, and although there are events, fundraisers and competitions along the way the entire focus is July 2012.  So this is the beginning of my first full training year as a Crossfitter.  That being said, it makes sense that I have many things yet to figure out.  Over the past couple of months I’ve gained even more respect for the athletes who’ve been to multiple Games.  It’s amazing to see athletes who have sustained their training and maintained their health and come back year after year.  When I arrived in LA this year,  before the Games even started I knew I wanted this to be a debut year, not a one-time shot.   No matter how many times you do it, I don’t think competing in the Games ever becomes blasé.  You could see it in the faces and hear it in the voices of the athletes who’ve been back year after year.  It was a beautiful thing at the pre-Games athlete dinner seeing the excitement and humility in all the competitors.  From those of us who were complete newbies and had no idea the awesomeness we had gotten ourselves into, to the most experienced and accomplished Games veterans, everyone was absolutely honored to be there. 

I say all that to emphasize that all the juggling is worth it.  It’s going to take a lot of persistence and commitment.  What I’m realizing is that the commitment doesn’t simply mean coming into the gym and hitting it hard every day.  It means skipping a social function so I can sleep.  It means setting aside time to get my shopping and cooking done so I can quickly access the food I need throughout the week.  Sometimes it means actually “penciling in” special times with my son to ensure he’s not getting short changed as my schedule fills up.

“We can be sure that the greatest hope for maintaining equilibrium in the face of any situation rests within ourselves.”- Francis J. Braceland

Yeah, I can balance

I know these are universal issues and my approach addressing these issues is not rocket science.  Frankly, I’m fortunate that these are my “issues”.  Pretty basic stuff in the grand scheme of things.  But somehow when times get busy I just need a reminder for myself that with commitment across the board, 24/7, I can manage everything on my plate.  When all else fails, I remind myself of some of the amazing moms who were at the Games this year, a number of whom were top 10 finishers: Angie Pie, Annie Sakamoto, Lindsey Smith, Cheryl Brost.  I really admire these women (and the other moms at the Games) because they’ve demonstrated longevity as Crossfitters while also raising kids.  Encouraging and inspiring!

My question is:  has there been a mom on the podium yet?

Author: Elisabeth Akinwale

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    • Agree!

      I first learned of you when I watched you do the the Killer Kage without dropping off the bar (the only athlete, male or female, to do that) – I had to remind myself to close my mouth – I was totally blown away at your athleticism. I am a working mother of 2 little boys and can relate to your struggles of fitting it all in, training included.

      I am confident that you’ll find a way to balance all your priorities that will work for you and your son – it may take some trial and error and tweeking along the way. I look forward to watching you compete in 2012.

      I’m competing in my first CF competition this weekend and will bring all of your inspiring words with me (and have someone count my reps).

      • Thanks Erin, there are alot of us in the same boat. I know I feel encouraged to know that others are out there doing it too! Totally agree with you regarding the trial and error- it’s always a work in progress and things never seem to stay the same for long, forcing us to constantly make adjustments. Just like Crossfit!

        Good luck with the competition, I know you will gain alot and learn about yourself from competing, so congrats on putting yourself out there.

  • I don’t know how you mothers do it! I feel short on time without kids. Life is just crazy like that. I’m so very impressed by all of you. I can’t wait to see what you are going to do this year with a full year of specific training under your belt!

  • Life IS crazy like that! Life was very full already and then stumbled onto CF (thanks goodness!). We know how much time and energy can be devoted to training. I guess it’s like when you first become a parent, you eventually figure out a routine that works. Or die trying??

  • Great post Elisabeth! I can’t imagine adding the demands of motherhood in the mix! As a girlfriend of a competitor (Phil Kniep) I feel the pains of his demanding schedule and it’s always good for me to be reminded that all in all I’ve got it pretty good. Sometimes I struggle with wanting more time from him than he has to give but I know that he’s always trying his best!

    Can’t wait to see you competing again next year! Being able to pursue your passions makes the extra work worth it!!

    • Thanks Brandi! I can only imagine what it must be like being the significant other of a competitor. I’m sure you must have to be very patient and understanding, but I bet your support is invaluable to Phil. I’m divorced (not because of Crossfit, ha!) and making time to take care of a relationship on top of everything else right now would be tough, so kudos to you for that. Hope you guys had a blast in Houston!

  • Great post! Carey Kepler stood on the podium in 2009, and she has at least 2 kids. I can sympathize with your hectic schedule. Running a gym, managing a teenager, and tending to the needs of an infant have left little time for training. Sounds like your priorities are all in line…2012 is your year!!

  • Yes, Carey Kepler, she is awesome! I didn’t know she had kids… and she runs the hell out of Crossfit Central. Another incredible role model and all around bad chick who’s competed in multiple Games. I hope it will get easier for you to find training time as your little one gets older. Fitness has always been a priority to me, but I drastically decreased the time I spent on it for the first 3 years of my sons life, so I can relate.