Leslie Kay

Making the Most of Your Journey – Wherever You Are

Different stages of life call for different goals, different motivations and different situations. As an exercise physiologist working in the health and fitness field for more than 10 years, I thought I had it all together when it came to setting and reaching goals. Exercise and striving for my "healthy" place has always been a passion of mine – a way of life – and a great source of excitement for me. In my twenties, I had ample time to exercise however long I wanted, and didn't have to abide by anyone else's schedule other than my own. I ran a different 5K or 10K on most weekends, followed a strict training plan, and had extra time to incorporate various cross-training opportunities to help increase my strength, endurance and running time.

I had helped new moms get back into their fitness routine for years, so I thought I'd be an expert when it came time for me to be a mom when I was in my early thirties. I had my jogging stroller ready to go, thinking I could go back to my old routine. The goals I had before, just weren't feasible anymore. I kept pushing, thinking things would just work their way out like they always did. However, my sleep patterns were a mess, my eating routine was off, and my time was no longer my own. My body was weak and I was tired. I wasn't sure I would ever be able to exercise like I used to again.

That was until I learned something integral to my journey as a mom, as an exercise physiologist and as a human – every little bit counts, no matter what. I started going on 10-15 minute walk/jogs at a time, or engaging in mini circuits of no more than 5 minutes. Even though this was very different than my "normal" 30-60 minute workouts, it's what made sense for me, in my now. Throughout this tough realization, I began to grow stronger not just physically but as a person. Many of us face tough times in our training plans. We all have different goals, different motivations and different situations, so it's imperative that we re-evaluate our priorities, reassess our goals and create a plan that is realistic for us in the present.

I have two little boys now, and they have taught me so much about myself and my priorities in life. I know that exercise and training hard CAN be a part of my life, but it needs to make sense for me and my family's situation, not anyone else's. You, too, CAN make it work for you.

Runner high-fives Minnie Mouse at the finish line of the Walt Disney World Marathon.

Tips to Turn Things Around

1. Reassess
What do you want to achieve? What is most realistic for you to focus on? Are they in alignment with your priorities?

2. Create a Plan
Consider your current circumstances (time frame, support system and so on). Create a plan that meets yours and your family's needs. Talk about it and include them in your journey.

3. Reach out for Support
It's key that your friends and family understand where you are and what your goals are! Include them in your planning process, let them know if you need their support either to cheer you on, join you or even watch your kids! Having a supportive team makes a big difference in helping you reach your goals.

4. Be Flexible
Ongoing changes and unpredictable circumstances can challenge your routine sometimes. Don't fret, have a "plan B" and do what you can when you can. That's it!

5. Break It Up
Don't be afraid to break up your activity into smaller bouts. Sometimes giving yourself permission to not define your exercise plan effectiveness simply based on time is a good thing. If you are training for something specific that requires a longer time commitment, assess your schedule and your family needs to see what is essential to realistically achieve it.

6. Make the Most of It
Enjoy every moment of your dedicated time. Take time for yourself or involve your family into your routine! Load up the jogging stroller and head out on your path, or call the babysitter for your dedicated YOU time. Whatever you do, your time is valuable – enjoy it, take it in, make the most of it!

7. Give Yourself Credit Where You Are
Remember, every little bit counts! Maybe you might not improve your personal record (PR) this race, but give yourself credit for you journey – own it, live it and love it. Life is way more than beating records and checking everything off your lists.

No matter what comes your way in life, you've got this. Take a breath, reassess and just keep on going, no matter what it looks like, no matter what your goal is, no matter where you are in your journey.

You'll get to where you want to be if you believe it.

Brittany Onufrak is a health coach at Cigna®, the presenting sponsor of Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend.

This content is for educational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Speak to your doctor if you have health concerns and prior to starting a new diet or exercise program.