I don’t know about you but I am fighting burnout HARD right now. So are many of my clients! Nothing like women who overachieve at most things in their lives who were already operating at or over full capacity taking on all the extra things during the pandemic to lead to full-on burnout.
I’ll tell you how I got to burnout (and I’ll tell you what I’m doing about it if you keep reading…). Before the pandemic, I was running at full capacity. I taught about 35 hours per week, spent another 20-30+ hours running my business and managing my team while taking care of my kids/stepkids/boyfriend/senior dog/house/cooking/exercise… the list goes on. Then the world closed down. In the spring of 2020, I went into major business survival mode – I had about 45 clients, my business was steadily growing (after much hard work) and I was not interested in letting my clients down, my trainers down, and losing my business. There was also no more school… What followed was survival mode in all areas. I reinvented my business overnight and diligently worked on majorly increasing client value/retention to keep my clients fit and happy and my business alive/trainers paid. I worked 14-16 hour days where I forgot to eat/drink and my wonderful boyfriend would place snacks and drinks beside me to keep me going (it worked! I now have about 150 clients!!). Any break was spent helping kids with school/making sure they ate. Somehow I managed to stay committed to my workouts (mostly thanks to the online program I created with short intense workouts designed for busy moms like me!).
Signs of stress kicked in in major ways. Since the pandemic hit I haven’t been able to sleep – my brain is in constant overdrive worrying about the business, the kids, my ability to get through another long day with no sleep. Despite massive fatigue, I lie awake all night worrying/planning/thinking. Now, I’ve been through a lot and my capacity is huge. I’m a pro at no sleep, high stress, too many hours worked, and too many roles to play – so when I start falling apart – it’s serious. After a high-stress summer with the original commercial space, I had thought I was making a home in falling through, then finding a new spot and deciding to get open basically overnight in the new space – I hit a wall.
I have always had serious self-care routines – I know what I need to thrive/survive my very busy high-stress life. I need to shower in the morning and put on my makeup, likely squeeze in another after a workout. I need daily intense exercise, I need frequent hot yoga for my old lady hips to function right. When I get those things I feel good and have more energy for everything – especially my family.
Through the summer I started missing more workouts (I know! A bad week for me is 2-3 workouts – that’s not exactly failure – but I need more to feel my best). I started missing many meals after scheduling myself back to back for 7-8+ hours at a time. My energy and attention for my family declined, so did my terrible sleeping habits. Generally – I’ve never been a huge drinker but all of a sudden cocktail hour to turn off my busy brain was becoming a thing… usually only 1 drink during the week and 2 on a weekend – not exactly problematic but a clear indication that my usual habits have changed.
10 days ago I finally opened my Westboro Gym. I worked around the clock leading up to opening (with my severely neglected boyfriend working right beside me to get it all done). I worked around the clock on that first week open. After nearly 18 months of very few days off work, very long hours, too many jobs to do (including being my kids’ teachers), by the end of that first week open I was actually a mess. Sleep EZE was my only hope at getting some rest, my brain felt like mush, my energy for my family wasn’t there and I didn’t work out all week (the last time I didn’t work out for a week was when I had a baby 10 years ago). I forgot to eat most days until at least 4 pm and lost about 5 lbs in just a few weeks (this is not healthy weight loss!) I hit a wall.
Now when you hit a wall you really have 2 choices: 1 – stay in this awful place of feeling terrible, being disconnected from what matters and eventually severely impacting your health and relationships OR 2 – get clear on where you WANT to be, create a clear path to get there and get to work. When you are exhausted, option 2 can feel impossible – how can you make space for change when you are beyond capacity?
But then you have to ask yourself this question: where will I be in 3 months, 1 year, 5 years if I don’t change a thing? (In my case the answer is single – without my wonderful boyfriend, health problems – this much stress and letting my exercise/self-care fall off will be disastrous to my health, unfit – that would be the worst – my love of fitness is what got me here in the first place – if I let that go what would be the point of all this work?!). The next question you must answer is: Where do I want to be in 3 months, 1 year, 5 years? (for me: teaching about 20 hours, unloading all admin, leaving lots of time for onboarding new clients, team development, marketing and big picture planning of my business… and even more time for myself and my family, a 50-hour workweek would be ideal for me – I’m used to about 80+).
Here’s the thing – anything is possible if you can get clear on what you want and create a clear path and solid plan to get there, realize that you can’t do EVERYTHING all the time and you need systems in place to get where you are trying to go.
Here is what I am doing to move out of the burnout zone and walk towards where I want to be (you can’t do everything at once, so get clear on your plan and begin execution ASAP!). Short term: I have hired a new sensational experienced trainer who’s excited to take on more things, this will free up some time. I prioritize my health and fitness by blocking my workout times, rejoining my fave yoga studio, and meal prepping some food for the week. I even booked a few personal training sessions with my awesome trainers so I don’t have to use my own energy for planning and motivation – what a treat to just turn up, not have to think and do what they say! I bought a kindle… long nights of not sleeping lead to me reading CNN on my iPhone and shopping on amazon at 3 am… not exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep! My new sleep routine involves snuggle time with my man, Sage sleepy time moisturizer with essential oils that promote sleep, then reading until I’m tired. When I wake up and can’t sleep I go back to reading instead of playing on my phone… I can already feel the difference this change has made. These small changes will get me through the short term. Longer-term – I realize it’s time to bring in another full-time person to help run the business (I already have my amazing Stuti, but we both need more help). I have listed off all of the things I do in a week, and what things I would like to pass off, now I need to create a job description based on that and get to work on hiring. Hopefully in the next few months with the proper recruiting, I will hire another amazing team member and will start to really get my life back into balance!
No plan goes off without a hitch, something will go wrong and I might have to change the plan or the path to get where I am trying to go, but as long as I continue to push forward I can create the life I deserve and continue to be there for everyone else – because that is what I love the most! At the end of the day – I do what I do because I love taking care of people, I love helping people make their health and life great, I love creating a space for sensational fitness professionals to have a great life and avoid the burnout that they will experience in most gyms. I will not be effective at those things if I burn out. Everyone around me (especially me) deserves me at my best because I truly have so much to give, and that will only happen if I take care of myself and follow the steps to getting back into balance.
I am already on my way to feeling much better from just a few small changes. If you are feeling burnt out right now and don’t know where to start; pop me off a message so I can help you. You and the people around you deserve you at your best!!!