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A Labor Day Lesson

On Sunday afternoon I taught three classes in a row. A double header of HIIT and Total Strength at the Y for my once-a-month rotation followed immediately by hot yoga. These Sundays are four hour marathons of teaching but always leave me feeling energized and remembering why I fell in love with group ex and teaching in the first place.

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About 10 minutes into my yoga class at the studio, I realized that teaching was coming effortlessly to me on this day. Where I might sometimes struggle with fatigue or getting tripped up on my words, I instead felt really clear and present. The ideas came easily and the words just rolled off my tongue.

I thought about how one of my students recently shared that she loves coming to my Sunday afternoon class because she always knows I’ll be extra rested and fresh. And then I started thinking how my Saturday and Sunday classes always seem to gel in such a wonderful way.

A lightbulb went off.

I get 8+ hours of sleep on Friday and Saturday nights. The pace of my Saturdays and Sundays is usually about 100x more relaxed than my weekdays. When we took our first break for core work, I shared with them the small epiphany I just had.

I know sleep is important. I know rest is important. But I still let myself get by on 5-6 hours of sleep sometimes because I can. But when I really become aware of how much sleep and rest can impact my energy levels, emotional state, productivity and cognitive function…it’s pretty incredible and hard to ignore.

“Because I can” is not a road that leads to sustainability. “Because I can” is a road that leads to burnout and injury.

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Many of you probably know this already but our bodies actually don’t get stronger when we’re working out. When we work out, we’re taxing our bodies and creating micro-tears in the muscles and tissues. It’s when we sleep and rest that our bodies can do the magic of healing, repairing and building back stronger.

So if all you ever do is push, push, push without a dial back, how can we ever expect to feel better?

I will totally admit that I’m a long way off from my “ideal schedule” but it’s something I’m taking small steps to work towards every day. I recently did a schedule overhaul where I gave up almost all of my PT clients (including my 5:30 a.m.) and adjusted my days so that I had long, uninterrupted gaps during the day where I could work and get things done around the house and personally. I also cut back on how much unnecessary scheduling I did that broke up my day and had me running all over town.

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The result has been a big step in the right direction and left me feeling much more grounded and rested. A little more like I have my shit together, for lack of a better way to express it.

I still work a ton and I do want to get to a place where I don’t work 7 days a week and where I do have a better work/life balance. I want more family, friends and living in my life and it’s a goal that Tanner shares with me. We are taking steps every day to build our business to a place where we can take a bigger step back.

We live in a society that condones and glorifies busy and on-the-go lifestyles but where do we draw the line? There are always more items on the to-do list that could be checked off, there is always another run or trip to the gym that could be taken, there is always another social engagement that could be attended but if you never stop and say, “I AM DONE FOR RIGHT NOW, IT’S TIME FOR ME,” then where do we draw the line?

This is where I land.

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LESS LABORING, MORE LIVING. 

I shared this with my classes over Labor Day Weekend and I had several students approach me after class and share that they had planned to rush off to another workout after class but decided that what they had done on their mats was enough for the day. One student shared, “I swear…you’re in my head and talking directly to the voices.”

I rarely speak to my students about anything that I am not working on in my own life and this balance and self-care thing is one that stays at the top of the list. Our lives have seasons…there will be times where you are pushed and demands will be placed on you. During those I totally support digging your heels in and shifting into a higher gear. But we can’t stay there all the time. When you can ease off the gas, love those moments of coasting and even hitting the brakes completely.

Mantra: I am enough. I do enough. I love myself enough to take care of myself and rest. 

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Ashlee September 5, 2016, 10:19 pm

    “I am enough” is a mantra that is so incredibly powerful for me. I’ve found that a lot of my worries and fears do come from a place of thinking that I am not enough… At work, as a wife, as a friend, skinny enough.. Smart enough.. Busy enough.. Simple enough.. You name it. When you strip all of that away and just say out loud that you are enough right now how you are.. Such a relief!!!!

    • 2
      Jen DeCurtins September 12, 2016, 4:14 pm

      Yes, we are so freaking hard on ourselves. Reminding ourselves that we are enough is such a gift and a help.

  • 3
    JennyV September 5, 2016, 10:27 pm

    Oh my word – this echoes exactly what my husband and I were talking about over dinner. It started off with the excuses we make for not breaking through whatever it is that we’re going for — and somehow, for me, I know I’m not reaching some goals because of the amount of sleep I get (5-6 hours.) Strange connection but per our conversation, it was so black and white. I never even think about that being the time to repair for the next day and that those rest periods actually strengthen us — thank you for that (overlooked) connection!
    Fall, to me, is a perfect combination of letting go of the things that don’t serve me and also gather near those that fill me up.
    I appreciate your thoughts here so much!

    • 4
      Jen DeCurtins September 12, 2016, 4:13 pm

      Hi Jenny – it can be so hard to pull out of our grind and goals to step back and see how we could be better taking care of ourselves to make more progress…with less work. So glad this is something that you and your husband were already dialoguing about and that my post could help reinforce the message. AGREED on fall being a great time to let go!

  • 5
    Kim F September 5, 2016, 10:57 pm

    Oh. My. Gosh. This just hit a nerve somewhere deep inside of me. Thank you for sharing this. Something has been pulling at me for a long time, and I needed to hear this so badly. I enough.

    • 6
      Jen DeCurtins September 12, 2016, 4:10 pm

      You’re so welcome Kim and thank you for taking a moment to comment.

  • 7
    Alaina September 6, 2016, 5:39 am

    This totally resonates with me this week! I am at the end of an overseas work contract and can tell that I am on the edge of burn out. I’m making conscious effort to focus on productively prioritizing as I near the finish line so that doesn’t happen. I have one more week of digging in my heels and then a month long savasana! Can.Not.Wait.

    • 8
      Jen DeCurtins September 12, 2016, 4:10 pm

      ENJOY that month long savasana. Sounds like it was well-earned!

  • 9
    Lauren September 6, 2016, 7:11 am

    Jen I can’t even begin to tell you how much I look forward to these posts of yours. Your words are not just echoing in your students’ heads….a post like this will have your voice in my head for a long time. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it:)

    • 10
      Jen DeCurtins September 12, 2016, 4:10 pm

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for the encouragement.

  • 11
    Joy September 6, 2016, 8:01 am

    Beautiful! What a wonderful epiphany to have! Thank you for sharing your thoughts….they truly resonate with me.

    • 12
      Jen DeCurtins September 12, 2016, 4:09 pm

      Thank you Joy!

  • 13
    Lauren C September 6, 2016, 9:21 am

    Thank you for this post. It’s a wonderful message, and one I really needed to read today. I struggle with these thoughts (and getting enough sleep, even though I’m trying to get more lately) constantly – am I good enough or doing enough as a wife/mother/friend/daughter/sister/employee? It’s so, so easy to feel like the answer to that question is always no. Words like yours are a great reminder that isn’t true. Thank you.

    • 14
      Jen DeCurtins September 12, 2016, 4:09 pm

      You are so welcome and I’m so happy to hear that this resonated with you. <3

  • 15
    Shannon September 6, 2016, 9:41 am

    What a great epiphany! I recently started reading “I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time.” Ironically, I had to return it to the library before I could finish it 😉 BUT–the first few chapters were helpful in reinforcing what I know about time management and gratifying to read because I do a lot of what they talk about already. I love how she talks about your day as a “mosaic” and you have the freedom to arrange it however you want. After recording how I spend each half hour of my week, I was able to see how sometimes I had “dead time” or uncessary scheduling like you mentioned that I could eliminate or move around. Highly recommend reading a chapter or two!

    • 16
      Jen DeCurtins September 12, 2016, 4:09 pm

      LOVE that idea of your day as a mosaic. I think it’s so important to be creative in how we schedule our days and get things done and to accept that our mosaic might not look like other peoples.

  • 17
    Tara September 6, 2016, 1:23 pm

    what a great post. i think i need to print it and read it every freaking day ! why do women struggle soooo much more on this ? and i totally agree our society now rewards “busy” and work which is ironic because years ago… everyone pined to be the less busy as they were the more well off and wealthy members of society since they didn’t have to work as many hours. now we strive for the opposite and try to one up each other. i think for me the message you display above can be at war with the other message of “make the most out of life” or “live each day to its fullest” type things. its such a balance (a word i hate cuz i dont think its achievable in the short term). i do agree with the sleep thing. i am sick AGAIN for the 4th time in less than a year. i have a feeling its due to lack of sleep/rest fostering lower immunity. Good for you that you have found a better schedule for yourself. i also agree that our lives are seasonal in a way sometimes you need to give more and others pull back. i am seeing that more and more as i get older.

    • 18
      Jen DeCurtins September 12, 2016, 4:08 pm

      Hey Tara – glad you liked the post and found it helpful. Your points are so valid on how much leisure has become devalued in comparison to the past. I think so much of that is due to technology and the ability to be “always on and always available” whereas you used to leave the office and not have a way to check back in until the next day or go on vacation and be totally detached. I agree that balance is a myth and something that requires constant reevaluation but I do think it’s important to do daily check ins on how you’re feeling. I hope you can get some more sleep and get better soon.

  • 19
    Jeanean September 6, 2016, 2:21 pm

    I am with you 100% on this. I am also a PT and Group Ex Instructor and was running clients and classes from 5:00am – 10:30am, going to another job 11 – 4, and coming back to the gym and working 4:30pm – 7:30pm – at least 4 days per week, then all day Friday, and teaching Saturdays and Sundays. Way too much! I have tried to cut back, but just hate giving up the money so it is sneaking back up on me again. I really need to cut the 5:30am clients at this point – it is great to see I am not alone in my struggles!

    • 20
      Jen DeCurtins September 12, 2016, 4:06 pm

      Hi Jeanean,

      Oh wow, that schedule sounds so crazy. I know how hard it is to cut back when it comes to the money portion of it but remember that you also want to feel good and have time to enjoy life and you can’t put a price on that. I am guilty of the creep too. I cut back and then let it build back up, you just have to realize when you’re doing it and dial back again. You are not alone!

  • 21
    Danielle September 6, 2016, 2:50 pm

    So if all you ever do is push, push, push without a dial back, how can we ever expect to feel better? – This REALLY stuck with me and is something that has been driven home during marathon training and life lately. The past 2 weeks I have focused way more on resting, recovery, and not trying to do everything… and surprise, surprise I feel way better! I think it is so easy to get caught up in I can push, I can work harder, so why shouldn’t I, that I forget how good a break can be.

    • 22
      Jen DeCurtins September 12, 2016, 4:04 pm

      Hey Danielle – I’m glad to read that this post resonated with you. Marathon training is definitely one of those scenarios where you really have to put push, push, REST AND BACK OFF into practice. And I know it can be such a mind game.

  • 23
    Emily My Healthyish Life September 6, 2016, 8:46 pm

    Jen, I LOVE these posts of yours. Even if I can’t relate directly to the busy schedule, learning to rest and give my body what it needs has been eye-opening for me this year. I really hope to take a class of yours one day <3

    • 24
      Jen DeCurtins September 12, 2016, 3:59 pm

      Thank you Emily! I really appreciate the kind words. I hope we can meet one day as well!

  • 25
    Nicki September 6, 2016, 11:40 pm

    A thousand times, YES! I’ve always advocated for a work-life balance…it’s very unfortunate we live in a country where vacation and personal life isn’t given the proper respect. My boss at the company I’ve been at a year literally never takes vacation and when I get to the office on a Monday morning, I always have emails from her on Saturday/Sunday. It’s incredibly sad and I never, ever want to be in that position – no matter what the pay is! I spent my Labor Day weekend running errands, hanging out with my parents and then going on a hike (my first 14er here in Colorado…omg so hard!) with my boyfriend 🙂 Glad you enjoyed yours!!

    • 26
      Tara September 7, 2016, 8:16 am

      LOL i can relate but on the other side. though i dont normally log on on the weekends my associates come in a lot of days to emails from me from the prior evening. To be fair some of them leave at 430 or 5 when the majority of the rest of the company is still working so i think they should expect that. It can be tempting to stay later because of workload and because its so much easier to get things done when people have left for the day. i feel i’m 10x more productive after my associates leave for the day because i’m not being interrupted with questions, etc. It is a good reminder though how that can be perceived if you are not careful. While i totally agree that you can’t work all the time, in this day in age it seems work and home creep together so much because of technology and pressures are big in some companies to be connected at all times. i do think the power trip some people play of who can send the latest email is ridiculous ! And i do agree that at some point trading a life for money isn’t worth it. Its just that that line is so different for so many people. I think little by little you can let work take over and not even realize it, at least that has happened to me. And then you are a bit stuck. Its hard to pull back. But thanks for the reminder, maybe i will save my later emails tonight in draft and send tomorrow AM 🙂

    • 27
      Jen DeCurtins September 12, 2016, 4:01 pm

      Hey Nicki – I hear you on this. We definitely live in a country that glorifies late night emails, working weekends and skipping vacation or working through it. Disconnection has become a lost idea. And I couldn’t agree with you more that sometimes pay is not worth the added responsibility. How did your hike go!? I did Long’s Peak once and it was awesome!

  • 28
    Julie Running in a Skirt September 7, 2016, 9:04 am

    I totally understand this! When I left my crazy full-time job at the TV station that was where I was at. I couldn’t keep running like I was running. I find myself slipping into bad habits now with the blog. There is always MORE to do and setting boundaries is important or it will be 10PM and I’m still working on it!

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