Comment Contest Tuesday

stair climber

Is it a challenge for you to get your exercise in at least three times a week?

Alright, today’s Comment Contest Tuesday runs in connection with September’s Monthly Challenge.

The Monthly Challenge asks readers to think about the things they don’t have time for (a fitness class, shopping for fresh veggies instead of eating/serving frozen meals, cooking at home regularly, going for nightly walks after dinner, getting up in the morning for a 20-30 minute yoga practice, making it to the gym at least three times a week, going to bed at a regular time, etc.)

This Comment Contest Tuesday, starting today and running through Tuesday, Sept. 17, asks readers to post their challenges and wants and needs. Other readers can suggest ways to achieve these challenges.

For each challenge a reader posts their name will get thrown into a random drawing. For each suggestion to challenge posted, the reader will get their name thrown in a random drawing twice.

This is a two-week long Comment Contest Tuesday, as I want to encourage readers to post their many challenges and for my readers to take the time to come up with solutions for each other.

You have a full two weeks to post challenges and solutions. Every single challenge post gets your name thrown in one time into the random drawing (post three challenges and get your name in the hat [UA hat, of course] three times). Every single solution post to a challenge gets your name thrown in two times into the random drawing (post two solutions and get your name in the hat [same UA hat, Bear Down!] four times).

You have from today to Tuesday, Sept. 17 noon (Pacific time) to post challenges and solutions. Only comments below count. Facebook comments, Tweets, e-mails, etc. DON’T count.

Just a reminder, in order for this Monthly Challenge to be successful we need a lot of comments in Comment Contest Tuesday. And lots of comments and participation means Monthly Challenges will continue.

Thanks for your support!

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35 Comments

  1. As I posted on the Facebook page for the Go Fit Girl group, I am at a place in my life where I feel that I don’t ever have enough time. It’s been building up to this point for about the last year, and has recently reached almost a crisis point. I work full time to support my stay-at-home, student husband and our collective 5 children. I’m lucky in that my husband does 95% of the housework, grocery shopping, home repairs and maintenance, dog walking and washing and probably 85% of the cooking and cleaning. I used to be a stay at home parent when my boys were littler and I know how time consuming (and unrewarding!) those activities are, and I am truly grateful for how much he does. However, it means that money is tight and also that I am not around the kids as much as he is (nor as much as I used to be when we both worked). It t also means that I am almost never alone. We have five sons in 5 different schools, two that play club basketball (and one of those two plays for his school team as well), one who does Kung Fu, another who does a kid-based fitness games class twice a week and one who swims. I spend a lot of my time driving kids to and from school or activities. Sometimes we get notice of a basketball tournament out of town on a weekend that is only a few days away, and plans must be changed and shifted so that we can attend. I like being involved in my boys’ activities and everyone in our family usually works well together to accommodate the needs of the others. It does, however, often mean that plans I have made for myself will need to change. I try to be flexible and cheerful when those changes are needed but I also try to make my events (mostly yoga a few times a week and the occasional lunch or coffee with a friend, haircut or pedicure) as important as everyone else’s event. I admit I have a challenge around prioritizing my own needs and activities with the same level of importance as the children’s. So, as part of the September GFG challenge, one thing I don’t feel that I have enough time for is doing yoga 4 times a week. Another is that I don’t feel that I have enough time to meditate every morning (which I have been making an effort to do for about the last 6 months, and which really does help me improve focus, mood and mental clarity when I get a chance to do it). The trouble is that with 5 boys in the house, yoga at home is not an option (at least not one that yields relaxation!) and meditation (which needs to be done in silence) means that I have to wake up at 5:30 am instead of 5:45 (and that 15 minutes makes a difference if I haven’t gotten to bed til 11 or so the night before -we have 2 teenagers, so often the nights are late depending upon their activities). The issue is that I think I “feel” like I don’t have time for these things because I actually DO NOT have time for these things, a lot of the time. But, I am also a believer in creating time and room for the things that matter, and I have seen that if you decide something needs to happen, and prioritize it accordingly, it will happen. So, for September’s challenge, I am going to go to yoga at the studio 4 times a week, and I am going to meditate for 15 minutes every day. I am also going to make an effort not to feel bad about taking alone time where I can (it is rare, and I can usually think of 10 things I “should” be doing instead). Yesterday I started off on the right foot – my boys went with their dad for an outing and an overnight, and my husband is taking his kids to the movies and wanted me to come along. It took some mental clarity but I said that I would prefer to stay home, work on this post, maybe read a little and nap, then go to yoga. This is big progress for me!

    • First of all, thank you, Nicole for being the first and second to comment about your challenges.
      Since I don’t have kids I can’t completely relate.
      But I will give you my 2 cents anyway …
      Where I practice yoga it is on a noisy street. There is usually a car alarm going off, some kid screaming, someone talking to loud in their cell phone, sirens, etc. You get the point. Trying to practice yoga and focus and be in the moment is a challenge. But one you can fit into your “loud” house.
      Can you ask for 30 minutes to yourself? Maybe everyone is doing homework or reading?
      I believe the same with meditation. If you can do it with all sorts of surrounding noise you will be come better at it.
      I refuse to sacrifice my sleep. Mostly because I need 7-8 hours. But also because in those 7-8 hours I normally don’t sleep well.
      Never feel bad taking care of No. 1. I know, easier said than done. I do the same thing. If I lounge for a day then I feel wasteful and guilty.
      Anyone else have advise for Nicole?

      • Thanks for the ideas, GFG! I hear what you are saying about yoga and meditation in a noisy space. Somehow it’s different to do yoga in s studio in noisy location (I also go to a studio that has street noise, etc) and to do yoga in my own house where the noise it made by my children and step children. They want to tell me things and talk to me and get my help on things, and somehow I feel less present as a mom and as a yogi when I try to blend the two. They are respectful about giving me space if I ask for it, but then I feel conflicted because I see so little of the kids, too. There it is again: the theme of not enough time! So I find that asking for a full hour and taking myself 2 blocks away to the studio helps me focus more fully on my yoga practice, and when I come home I am refreshed any ready to focus fully on family life, instead of splitting the difference. So far I have succeeded in getting meditation practice in every day this week (not saying much since it’s only the 4th, but I’ll take it!).

        • Makes sense about taking yourself out of the house to get your yoga on. And you should do that. I definitely feel like yoga makes me a better person. And I believe I have not committed murder at work because of my regular practice. 🙂

    • This is tough, and I’m sure you are just exhausted. Sometimes you just need the world to STOP for a while so you can regain your sanity.

      One thing my parents did when I was little — and which I didn’t realize the wisdom of until later — was setting up a support system with other parents.

      We had a family, the Pages, who lived on our block and with whose children my brother and I were friends. My parents would trade weeks with those parents so they could go on a trip without us, while we stayed with the Pages, and vice versa with the Page kids staying with us. It allowed us the excitement of staying at a friend’s house for the entire week, and my parents the luxury of relaxing time away from all the kids.

      Perhaps you can set up a carpool or trade with other parents — I promise your kids will survive if you’re not at every single game, and it’s OK for them to know Mom is skipping this game — but will be at the next one — because she has a yoga class. It lets them know that fitness is important for everyone in the family.

      Also, why are the kids’ activities keeping you (and them) up past 11? If that’s happening on a routine basis, that’s not healthy for anyone. I would suggest that a reordered schedule — for everyone — is a good idea. ESPECIALLY because you are reaching, in your own words, a crisis point. You have to take care of yourself — and in so doing, you will be taking care of your kids, too.

      If some of these activities are causing everyone to lose sleep (and cost a lot of money, I’m guessing), what if you took a month off them all? Imagine a whole month of calm family evenings, no rushing off for events or missing sleep. The kids might complain about being bored at first, but they’d adjust and you might rediscover fun family game nights and stuff.

      Now, that said, you know yourself and your family best, and what would be the wisest decision for you all. But when life gets to be too much, it’s OK to drop to drop a few things off your plate — not forever, but just until you regain your footing.

      • Haha Penny! I laughed out loud at your comment “I promise your kids will survive if you’re not at every single game” – too true! I am not even trying to get to all the games anymore, with so many kids and so many sports on the roster. I do make use of game time for yoga when that works out for me, and you’re right that my kids live right through it. It’s nice that they understand my need for my own fitness practice – they often urge me to go. My tug is that I miss them when I am away from them, and I miss yoga when I am away from it! All part of balancing such a full and busy life. Like your parents, we are lucky enough to have friends in the neighborhood we carpool with, and I am blessed that my children’s grandma is well off and is happy to pay for all of their extra-curricular activities. I could certainly have it far worse than I do. We enjoy the activities we participate in, so for me it’s not a question of taking a month off, but rather, getting better at using the small spaces in my day to rejuvenate. I’ve taken to not listening to music in the car when I am en route to school pick ups, just breathing deeply and slowly. I find it really is calming and refreshing. I’m also starting to take 20 minute naps in the afternoon when I can, and that really helps. I should have been more clear when I described my late nights – I didn’t mean to indicate that the kids were up past 11 – certainly not! My 11 and 9 year olds go to bed at 8:30, and my 15 year old is in his room quiet (though maybe finishing homework) by 10. The late nights are on my end, as I struggle to get used to balancing the schedules of older children against my need for uninterrupted intimate time with my husband (something I’m willing to lose sleep for!). Now that the boys are older and don’t finish homework/practice/dinner until later, our adult time starts later than it used to.

        • Sounds like you are taking some smart steps. 🙂

          Keep it up, and know that it’s OK to not hit everything perfect. You’re doing a lot, and doing it well.

  2. On another note, I am really inspired by Ann’s decision to do a yoga teacher training. For the last 2 and half years I have been supporting my husband emotionally and financially as he changes careers from being a Volvo mechanic (where he earned good money) to becoming a math teacher (where the money will be worse, but he will get to do a job he is passionate about, where he will have a chance to make a positive impact on the lives of others). This has naturally also caused me to wonder, what would I do for a job if money and benefits were not a concern? Although there are lots of things I like about my job, it is nothing I ever envisioned myself doing in the those idealistic early years of wondering, “what do I want to be when I grow up?” My job pays well, has good benefits and provides an amazingly supportive and friendly work environment; it also challenges me in important ways that have added to my growth as a person over time. Still, GFG inspires me to think about what I want to be pursuing 5, 10, 15 years down the line. I will think about that this month.

    My answer to “do you want to be happy?” is a resounding YES! And like Go Fit Girl, I think I have a lot of things in my life to be happy about, and I feel happy, but I am always striving to do better in the tricky areas of life. I have made effort and worked hard to be in the mental place I’m in – including years of therapy to heal childhood trauma, help me understand why and how to set boundaries, and deal with the challenges that arise with blended families. But I do want to set a challenge for myself this month surrounding happiness, too. As part of my childhood experiences and emotional makeup, I have historically had a hard time being idle. I also have what one of my yoga teachers calls “the ticker tape” in my head – the running dialogue of worries, fears and negative self-talk that I think everyone has to a certain extent. Mine can be hyperactive if I don’t make an active effort to override it. Until recently it was rare for me to have a spontaneous positive thought about myself – and even now I am more likely to think good things about others than about myself. Although I do invest effort in cultivating a more peaceful and less agitated mindset, I have recently realized that I undermine these efforts in one serious way – I compulsively multitask. If I am writing this post and I get stuck for what to write next, I check facebook. If I am working on a project at work that is complicated and I am feeling overwhelmed, I check my work email or look at what’s in my inbox, so now I have several work projects on the mind instead of just the one. If I am answering a time-sensitive text, I might also get distracted by a game of words with friends. If I am having a tense conversation with my husband, I might at the same time be online window-shopping or checking the bank balance. All of this leaves me feeling even more out of whack and stressed. It is a coping mechanism for dealing with stress that only creates more stress. So, for September, I am going to add the extra Happiness Challenge of staying fully present with whatever I am doing, and if I need a mental time out, I will try to recognize that and take a quick walk, do some stretches, drink a glass of water, rather than let technology distract me. Wish me luck! (I’ll need it).

    • I am the same as you with my job. It pays well and the benefits are nice. But this is not something I thought I would be doing.
      I was a journalism major and worked in newspapers for 7 years. When Curt and I moved to the Bay Area I quit my job and got a temp job and 8 years later am still at Onyx.
      The yoga teacher training for me is exciting and scary. I don’t know what the future holds. But I am trying to let go of my Type A Planner personality and just go with it.
      I love your idea of trying to be more focused. I wonder if that comes from being a multitasked and we think we need to do 20 things at once?
      Nicole, you are an amazing person, woman and mom. I am proud to know that you are helping to raise five fine young men. We need those in the world. And you are definitely doing your part.
      Anyone else want to comment? C’mon? Good prizes await ..

      • Aww thanks Ann! You inspire me and all your work on GFG has definitely changed my life for the better. Making good progress on the not multi-tasking so far! Some tips I have been employing are: don’t check my phone unless it dings or alerts me to a new message (I had sort of fallen into a habit of compulsively checking it, almost like a nervous tic), disengage from electronics entirely once home, complete one single task at work before thinking about a new task (even having calls put to voice mail if necessary), delegate small tasks at work to my admin assistant, think about the things I need to email/post/text all day and then do the essential ones in the evening when the kids are in bed – let the non-essential ones go, insist upon eye contact when talking to people (from myself that is – I can’t make other people make eye contact with me, but I find if I do it first they usually follow) and finally, only think about the thing that I am doing while I am doing it. So far, so good! I will keep you posted.

        • Thanks for your kind words. Glad to hear you are working on your multi-tasking. It’s such a bad habit. I have it as well. I try to make lists to help me. But I can be at home and ironing clothes, then I remember that the rice cooker is probably done, and then I remember that I needed to send an e-mail and then I remember that I need to add something to the grocery list and then the Target list and then … what was I first doing?

          • haha exactly. FOr me it’s compounded by “Mom, have you seen my such and such?” “Mom, can you sign this?” “Mom, the dog threw up!” and so on.

  3. I definitely need to work on getting a consistent sleep schedule.

    Also a few other things (eating better, being more active, getting my work schedule better organized), but I suspect that getting my sleep in order will make the rest of my to-do wish list easier to accomplish.

    Part of the problem is that I have been working 60-hour weeks for the past eight months, which means I get home very late at night. I want to feel like I’m having something of a personal life, so I will stay up late (2 or 3 a.m. isn’t unusual) so that I can have sufficient “me” time … but that usually just means I end up watching Netflix until too late at night. I’m not staying up late to accomplish great things, is what I’m saying.

    Once I move in with Bill and my future stepkids, I will need to adjust to their schedule (waking up at 5:45 a.m.), so it would be a good idea to conquer this challenge now. But I am lacking the willpower right now.

  4. Oh, and I should add (and this doesn’t need to be another entry in the prize pool — just an addition to my sleep-challenge entry):

    My work schedule allows me to sleep until 9 or 10 a.m., so I can get away with staying up so late. But I know that’s not the healthiest sleep cycle, and honestly my workday might be more manageable if I shifted my time to get me there earlier.

    • Hi Penny, I can’t offer a solution to what you describe above, but I can empathize, from past phases in my life…about needing “me” time, but then that time just turning into zombie time.

      Actually, maybe I do have an off the top of my head suggestion, maybe since you have to get used to an early morning schedule anyway, you could come home, crash, but then wake up early and have “me” time before having to go to work?

    • Also, another quick thought: I forget where I read the research, maybe a Malcolm Gladwell book or some article my mom forwarded me, but the takeaway for me was that a really effective time to try to effect change was when a major life event takes place….and you mentioned moving in with someone and a new family? Anyway, the article or whatever I read talked about changes or changes to habits most effectively happening when the person had a major life event happening already…like marriage or birth of a baby. The article gave an example of how companies have studied this in market research, and they use this behavior when they advertise….like when new moms get bombarded with advertising. It’s not so much that they want to make sales on the specific event, but that they know that the baby being born is a good time to try and alter the family’s long term spending habits (mainly where they shop).

      So maybe now is a GREAT time to alter whatever habits or behaviors or whatever you’re trying to change.

  5. Wow, I don’t feel too much like complaining about lack of time after reading Nicole M’s daily schedule! I am actually in a phase of life where I’m doing on ok job of balancing my schedule, to include exercise and mostly cooking healthy meals for me/family. I’m going to have to transition back into the workforce (from being a SAHM) with part time work in the near future, though, so time will again be more of an issue then. For now, my challenge is working in time to read. Ideally, I’d like to do it each day, and it needs to be consistently scheduled in order for it to happen. I already slice out time for fitness by waking up at ungodly hours to run predawn, and we don’t have a TV so we’ve freed up time in the evening for other activities. For me though, not having a TV has led to too much time online…emails, FB, scanning news, looking things up all the time. I think my solution to carving out time for reading is going to be to decrease time online, esp before bed.

    • Nicole, I was a stay at home mom for 10 years and I had the exact same issue with not having a TV! I think your idea of reading before bed will help. Supposedly it’s better for us not to do screens right before bed too, in terms of getting good sleep. I have the same challenge of not getting enough time to read. I keep my book in the car now so that when I am waiting for kids I get a few pages in! Good luck!

      • Keeping a book in the car is a GREAT idea…for me it can take the place of wasting time on my iPhone. I also like the idea you posted in another comment on having more mindful time by turning the music off while driving the car. Thanks!

    • I’d also suggest that you make sure the first few books are total page-turners. Now is not the time to attempt the “But I really *should* read this” books. You want something that you will absolutely CRAVE getting back to.

      If you get hooked on a truly addicting book, it will make it a lot easier to find time in your day to pick it up again.

      • Another great point!

        Also, I just re-read what I posted above and I regret using the term “complaining”. Didn’t mean to use that term, no one here or me is “complaining”, we’re bringing up time management issues and seeking solutions and actions to the issues.

  6. I think I posted on a different page so I am re-posting:

    I almost feel guilty writing knowing that some of the previous comments were from busy moms with more then one child!
    I have to say that this year I only have my son who is 13 at home with me since my first daughter went off to college. Things do not get easier, I find myself dealing with some of her problems (doctors tests results, lost wallet with credit card, ATM and driver license) and with the day to day mom’s responsibilities/duties.
    Let me say that I am a preschool teacher and that I guess I have more then one child. Sometimes I use all my patience at school trying to make those 12 kids happy….so I consider myself kind of a mom for them 🙂
    I wish I could have more time to myself and do not worry about the small things, but that is not always possible. My big challenge lately is to be motivated. Sometimes I just get lazy and at the end of a busy day I do not want to make the 20 min. drive in traffic to make it to the gym. I know I could go the gym more often if I prepare myself ahead of time, with dinner ready and all the chores done. So this month I am going to focus on making it to the gym at least three times a week and as a health challenge I will try to reduce/eliminate my snacking habits!!!! When I feel so tired all I want to do is just sit on the couch and munch on something…..not good I know. Thanks Ann for being my Monday evening class motivation.

    • Is there a closer gym you could join? A 20-minute drive would discourage me too!

      Or is there something that could make the drive worth it — bribe yourself with taking the scenic route past that one mountain you love, or let yourself stop by the grocery store on the way home and spend 10 minutes reading magazines there.

      You could also make plans to meet a friend there — nothing like a little accountability to get you off the couch.

      Is it the gym specifically, or any activity? Could you find a dance class that you’d look forward to a lot more than the treadmill? I take tap once a week, and a friend of mine has found a new passion in bellydancing. Mix it up a little! 🙂

      • Thank you Penny for your suggestion. I guess I could change gym but after so many years we have so many good friends that go there and it is nice to see them once in a while. Ann and I take a Monday class together and spinning on Saturday. But after what you said I thought that I could put my bike in the car and go for a bike ride before getting my son or jog around the new track field at the middle school next to work. Thank you for making me think outside the box 🙂

  7. I’m making time to go back to yoga starting this week. It’s a restorative class, one night each week. My family (husband & 2 teens) is *not* supportive so it’s stressful which is the opposite of what I need from them! I feel like I do a pretty good job of budgeting my cardio time so it’s not disruptive to my family – I bike to/from work and run at lunch time. I’m pretty upset that this is the ONE night a week that I want something for myself and they are all acting like it’s the end of the world. It’s after dinner and “wind down time” anyways. Is one night per week of not sitting on the couch with my husband really that big of a deal? (And if it is, why is evening & weekend robotics, dance classes, and/or golf any worse?)

    So, I guess my challenge is to stick to my guns and be selfish about this because I need some “me time”.

    • Good for you, Jen! It is important that we moms (especially moms of teens, who by virtue of changes in the brain at their age are naturally more selfish and self-centered at this stage of their lives) make clear to our families and ourselves that OUR events are important and must be worked in and accommodated (and as you say, supported!) just as much as the events of the children and dad. I have struggled with this too, not from my husband and children, but from myself (“I shouldn’t go…”, “They need me here…”, etc). Eventually I have gotten better at making time for myself without guilt. I have realized that I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that adults just work, and that adults don’t have time to engage in their activities. I want them to be well-rounded and choose a spouse or partner who will encourage them to pursue their interests even if they start a family, have the pressures of work, etc. If I want that for them, I have to show them it is possible! I have to model it. I also had a very wise friend once say to me (about her own parenting and how she was improving her skills at asking for time to herself), “we train them how to treat us.” I think about that a lot when these conflicts arise, and try to ‘train’ my family to treat me with respect by making sure I respect my own needs. It sounds like that is your commitment this month and I am 100% in support of you! Last weekend I didn’t want my house overrun with my teen son’s basketball friends (we did that the previous weekend) and he pestered me relentlessly all of Saturday (“can’t they just come swim?” “can we go out for pizza”). We had spent all day Saturday at a tournament that his team won, we celebrated, and I felt ready for relaxing down time at home, so I stood my ground. Eventually I said to him “wow, buddy, I can see that you need more practice hearing ‘No’ from me.” It was a revelation for both of us, and in the end we had a quiet family dinner and he watched Finding Nemo with us and his brothers. A nice night! I was pleased. Good luck and stand your ground. 🙂

    • I’m sorry that your family is not being supportive. I like your family, but that is not OK. And for the record you are NOT being selfish. To be a better person, friend, mom, wife, etc. you need to take care of No. 1. Proud of you for sticking to your guns.

  8. It seems that a lot of us are in the same boat. We are all struggling with balance and guilt complexes. We put the needs and wants of our families far ahead of our own. The great thing is we are all recognizing that we are the ones suffering for it and are taking steps to be better, happier people.

    This month’s challenge is a reminder of why I came to health and fitness in the first place…I wanted to be happy again. I have 3 kids and somewhere on my journey through motherhood I lost sight of myself. This past January I had enough. No more sitting on the sidelines hoping and wishing. I wanted to feel alive again. I started waking up at 5 am and working out and cleaning up my diet.
    I told my husband that I was going to take one hour each day for myself.

    The results? An almost 40 pound weight loss, no longer taking blood pressure meds. I am happier and I am learning to take each day as it comes. It is still a struggle but one that is so worth it. Go Fit Girl continues to give me that extra push and I am so grateful.

    In the long run, we need to believe that we are worth it because we are. Let’s make every second count.

  9. I have been thinking long and hard about what my own challenge is for this month. I do have time everyday to workout (I am blessed to have the schedule I have)…so I will go more toward a nutrition challenge. I know I teach nutrition, but I must admit I am not consistent with eating fruits and veggies everyday. So my challenge will be to eat at least one serving of fruits and veggies/day for the next month. As for a possible exercise challenge…I want to meditate at least 10 minutes a day. I do feel better the days I meditate and with my current stress levels I do need to force myself to be consistent with that. So I guess my “theme” is consistency…lol. From all my years of being in the fitness industry, it is one of many pieces of advice I have given my clients…be consistent. It doesn’t have to be “wow”…something is better than nothing. Why is it always so hard to follow our own advice? 😉

  10. Work has been stressful for along time. I find that walks helps. When my dog Muff was still alive I would take her out and it always made me feel better.

    So my goal is to force myself to take a break and go for walks. It helpps that my coworker brings his dog to the office on a regular basis so I can go with them on strolls.

  11. I don’t mind listening to people’s vents and complaints, but when it’s same re-occuring problem that never really gets resolved or worked on then it becomes drama. I’m trying to stay away from people’ s drama since it can be a downer and a distraction. So I’m trying to stay away from this by giving blunt feedback such as “well if you updated your resume and portfolio you could apply for that job”, “well if you learned to drive on the freeway you could apply for that company that is located outside of San Francisco”, “if you really don’t want to go to that restaurant that she suggested you really should speak up”. Lately I’ve been having a lot of personal things I need to deal with. It’s not fun to do, so I end up focusing on people’s drama. I guess because it’s a distraction for me and it’s easier than dealing with my own things.

    In addition I’m also trying to not give anyone my drama. Venting makes me feel better for the moment, but there is only so much someone can listen to it and I either need to deal with the problem and fix it or do nothing and just live with it.

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