Flunking planking

Flunking planking

Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

My husband and I on our annual 2-week break on the Atlantic coast of France and have all the time (and no excuses) to do some exercise. As the resort offers all sorts of fitness training, we have decided to dedicate a good 45 minutes every morning on exercising. And so 4 days ago, we started our 45-minute muscle workouts every day at 10:00. This is a nice late start allowing us a sleep-in every day…we are on holidays after all. The trainer is a couch-potato’s nightmare, hence mine! But she is very kind and turns a blind eye when I fail to do her iron-man exercises. I am not in it to compete anyway. I’m in it to move my lazy assets and counteract the effects of 2 weeks of butter croissants and foie gras. 

The most important part of the exercise is knowing your limit. I know our society is all about pushing your limits but I want to be on the safe side. I know when to stop. Everyone has their own threshold for pain and I am happy to stay within mine.  My limit was reached in today’s session when we got to planking. I can usually get to 60 seconds on a good day but this time, we also got thrown to do side-planking. I could barely get up from lying on my side let alone get to some sort of a diagonal position. Oh well, ticked that one off and waited for the end of the session. So the session ended at 40 minutes for me today. No big deal. The last thing I want is to be carted off in an ambulance. No shame in failing. 

I was more competitive in my younger years. And yet I didn’t have to exercise then. It was the time when I could eat everything in sight and not gain any weight. Going to the gym was a thing, Olivia Newton-John was a hit and everyone was getting physical. I was just as crazy about those metallic lycra 3/4 leggings under a high-cut leotard as everyone else was. I didn’t sweat of course…didn’t have to. At that time, it was all for show. 

Although I am comfortable with my current weight, I am not willing to invest more on clothes by jumping another size up. So I’m happy to do a bit of workout to keep my current size. 

The extra movement is doing us both a lot of good. We walk everywhere and mostly along the beach on top of the scheduled workouts. I definitely feel better. My fear of days of aching muscles after our first day did not materialized. Instead, the leg aches & pains I’ve been having lately when I first get up in the morning have somehow disappeared.

I hope to continue this when we get home. I will aim for 15 minutes a day as a realistic goal. Will probably end up doing 7! But hey, no pressure.

Children and career

Children and career

A girlfriend recently visited me and brought her 4-month old baby boy with her. She has recently gone back to work whilst her husband took paternity leave to take care of the baby full-time. It wasn’t so much a financial question but more of the fact that she really likes her work and would like to continue to be as active at work as she was before the baby. She is also not the first girlfriend I have who chose to go back to work a good 4 months after the birth. And as far as can see, they are all managing well. Yet they all posed the same question to me: Do you think we can manage a high-powered job with a baby or two??

Looking back in the past 25 or so odd years, I chose to forge a career on top of raising 3 energetic kids. At the time, I didn’t really have much of a choice but work. Not just from the financial angle but also from a personal angle. I have been working since I was 14 and used to balancing work and studies at a very early age. I also didn’t have the luxury of maternity leave as I was in the most part working within the family business.

There are pros and cons to every option. It’s not easy balancing work and home but women I know with big jobs and family show it can be done. The autonomy and career capital that come with executive roles help you delegate on the job. You often have the resources to be strategic at home too — and the organizational skills to pull it all off.

If you have a family, you’re managing a complex organization. You’re leading at home and you’re also leading at work. The skill set is no different. The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. She is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things. 

Structure your work schedule for flexibility. Time is fluid. Don’t hold to certain notions of what can be work time and what can’t be. You can collaborate with people around the world, and still have family breakfast and dinner in most days.

Managing a big career and a big family takes energy. So smart manage your own energy like you would manage an important project.

Work success is all about investing time in others. It lightens your load and gives people the opportunity to shine. When you can’t delegate, collaborate. Seek sponsors and allies too. Get your husband on board! 

Build your team at home. Hire help to assist you run things smoothly.  Teach kids to be independent when they are old enough. Learning to be responsible and capable early on is not a bad thing. There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choices, and your choices will change at different stages in your family’s life. Trying to balance work and home life can be challenging. You may not always feel in control but there are things you can do and think about to help manage the balance between work and home.

Indeed, when framed the right way, having a family alongside a career is not a handicap. Once you acknowledge the physical limitations to be every where, you release yourself from that guilt.  If you don’t prioritize, you can end up spending a lot of time providing little value whether to a corporation or to your personal life. Knowing that makes a big career and a big family possible.

Women who choose to combine career and children are not what Germans like to call “Rabenmutter”, or roughly translated, uncaring mothers. They care enough to also want to financially provide. I have contributed a lot to our cash flow and was able to swing some inspiring family holidays all over the world. Bringing up well-travelled, multi-lingual, cultivated young adults come with a price tag. My kids don’t seem to show any signs of trauma through having a Mom that worked full-time. 

Goodbye frozen shoulder

Goodbye frozen shoulder

It’s a nice rainy Sunday and it doesn’t matter much as the alternatives are endless. My favourite place on a day like this would have to be my local Thai massage place. I try to get an appointment at least twice a month but there have been times when I went every 3 days. That was about 4 years ago when I was suddenly troubled by  an immobilized left shoulder partnered with excruciating pain when I tried to move my arm. It didn’t really come from one day to the next. An orthopaedic doctor proudly told me that he could get rid of the pain by opening up my shoulder, scraping of calcifications and sewing it up again. Thanks but no thanks.

I have seen acquaintances battle with symptoms of frozen shoulder with painful cortisone treatments from their doctors or painkillers. I am a fan of neither. My husband suggested we get a bit more aggressive with our natural approach and sent me off to get a series of painful Thai massages to first get my cramped up muscles freed. The pain during the first sessions brought me on the verge of tears. yet every pressure applied also brought a sense of relief. I had 3 massages a week for 2 weeks. Remarkable improvements kicked in after the first 2 sessions and after 2 weeks I was completely pain free. 

Having done flamenco for over 10 years, I always got enough movement to never had any problems with joint aches and pains. It was only until I got stuck in the rut of a very demanding job that I stopped…and soon enough, the problems started too. My once supple joints literally froze! I am still trying to get back to a decent flamenco class. In the meantime, I try to get as much exercise as my lazy self would allow me. I religiously do 5 minutes combo of stretchings, sit-ups, push-ups and what-have-you every evening. I know this is not much in comparison to the Amazonian workouts others get into but hey, I do what I can. Every now and again my son jumps in as my personal trainer and gets me to do more than what I would usually do. It helps to get my old bones moving!

Suggested reads: Thai Massage Heals Frozen Shoulder Syndrome 

Age with Grace

Age with Grace

So I finally got my act together and started this site. The world may not need another blog but I do, so there! 

There have been heaps of thoughts flashing through my brain on the subject of aging. I never really thought about it much. I was happy to accept the fact that I will age as we would all do. And yet about a couple of years or so ago, it hit me that there are changes in my life that I am having some challenges with. 

I have to say that I have been lucky in that I haven’t really pushed my body to the limit in the sense of sex, drugs and rock&roll. But having raised three kids whilst continuing to work made sure my system was always on overdrive. And yet I feel I am still not doing badly for my age. This is mainly due to the fact that I learned at a very early age to look after myself well. Avoided excess of anything (bar the occasional excess baggage). I was lucky enough that my parents had a penchant for food supplements when I was still very young girl and as luck would have it, I married a doctor who continued to provide me with supplements I otherwise would not get in my not-always-so-healthy diet.

It is not just my diet or the extras I get on top of it, I have always tried to balance my life as much as I can. I can’t say I have discovered an anti-aging formula but I like to think there are things I did that helped me get to my senior years with no drastic health issues and a healthy social and psychological state. It is doable. But I started getting ready for aging at a very young age!

 

I would like to share my tricks and tips on the topic of aging in future blogs & articles and look forward if I can help others along the way.

Enjoy the sunset…

Enjoy the sunset…

My favourite time of day…sunset! Probably symptomatic of why I am not grossly fussed with slowly hitting my sunset years. There is something very calming about sunset. The day is just winding down, with a bit of luck, all that needed doing are done and if not, well…too bad! It’s time to just enjoy and see what happens next. 

I’m in that phase of my life where I am like, “I have done most of what I feel I needed to do…everything else is well deserved extras”…like this refreshing margarita at the end of hectic day! I would be very happy if I get to experience seeing my kids get married, spend time with grandkids, grow old with hubby. But if I don’t get to do all that, my life would still have been worth the while. I brought three gorgeous kids to this world who would no doubt leave their marks (if not their massive carbon footprint!!) and continue what legacy I may have left them. 

Now it’s time to sit back, hang out, enjoy what I can. I’d hate to spend the rest of my time hurrying about from place to place and trying to make a living and missing out on a life. I never was the type. I have had my share of workload…constantly on overdrive in my younger years. I can’t say I miss those times. They were hard. Juggling 3 kids, 2 jobs and a husband in a country where I didn’t quite master the language. But as with anything I encountered in life, I ploughed through coz I knew it would be worth it. I would not call myself a workaholic as although I worked a lot, it was also too finance the times I played hard. I was able to provide my family fun short breaks to balance out the times when I was out and about trying to bring home a small part of the bacon. My husband luckily took charge of the more solid and serious stuff.

I may not have done this everyday but on most days, I looked back on the whole day, reflected and tried to appreciate the positives. On the more challenging days, I tried to be grateful that the day was about to end and washed whatever frustration down with a glass of bubbly. Thankfully, I still have a functioning liver so my bad days couldn’t have been plenty.