Thursday, December 9, 2010

Unrealistic Expectations

I have a confession.

A while back, when I was out with friends, I made a comment in jest about not exercising. One of the individuals present was shocked. Surely I was joking, they exclaimed. After all, there can't actually be someone who doesn't exercise.

And there's the confession. My comment was not actually in jest.

I haven't exercised regularly in months. Since July, to be exact.

Actually, let me be completely honest here, because the term "exercised regularly" makes it sound like I might be exercising irregularly or at least infrequently. I don't want there to be any confusion. I don't exercise. At all.

I'm not proud of this. I had been doing so great the first six months of the year. But between my new work schedule and the million other things, I just wasn't able to keep it up.

I also haven't stepped on the scale once during the last six months. But I figure that all my clothes still fit about the same, so things can't be too bad.

But this isn't necessarily about the exercise, or lack of it.

It's about expectations.

When that person expressed their shock, I wanted to grab them by the shoulders and shake them.

What more do people want from me?

Any time I mention things like this, I get a variety of advice about how to fix things: wake up earlier, walk during lunch, etc. I've tried a multitude of things and haven't found anything that works.

I work full-time plus, I have two children and a husband, I help take care of our house, I study each night, I blog (although infrequently lately, I know). I don't know what else people expect from me. I'm home and see my children awake for 2-3 hours a day. I'm not willing to take time away from that, even to exercise. After my children go to bed, I study for a hour, and go to sleep for my 6 hours of sleep each night. I just don't think I can do more.

I know that I don't have to live up to anyone's expectations except my own. But when someone mentions something that I should be doing - exercising, taking time each day for myself, sleeping more, doing more activities with my kids, recreational reading - it triggers that little insecure spot inside. The one that always feels like I'm not good enough, I'm not doing enough, I can't handle things. The one that tells me now matter how much I accomplish, I'm still going to disappoint people.

I'm sure that eventually I figure it out. The schedule won't always be so tight, the days won't always be so long. For now, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, and let that be good enough.

How do you handle pressure to do more? How do you cope with what feel like unrealistic expectations?


  1. I don't think I could live a day of your life without feeling exhausted! I think you have your priorities in order and as long as your being active with your kids, it's just like exercising!

  2. wow, really? i admire you for not smacking that person upside the head! actually -- i admire the fact that you study for an hour!

  3. What you are doing is plenty good enough and not living up to the expectations of others should be the least of your worries. I say you are doing a darn good job of juggling all you have on your plate right now as it is. :-)

  4. Having a hectic schedule is exhausting enough and exercise in itself. Don't let anyone let you think that you're not doing enough. If they were in your shoes, I'm sure they wouldn't be worrying about exercising either!

  5. My confession is the same. My reason for not doing it is somewhat the same, minus the school work. I think you need to remember you are doing what you can and what you feel is important. And I think spending time as a family is the most important thing of all.


  6. I just finally had to stop caring what people think. In fact, I've even told a couple of friends that I really wish I could make a statement about something without feeling judged. It helped.

    Because we really CAN'T do it all. I don't do all the things you do, but I'm gone from my house almost as much doing a million different activities, too. While I may not be a mom and a wife and a doctor, I totally understand where you're coming from because I just don't have time to do everything.

  7. You HAVE regularly scheduled exercise. Label it appropriately and put it on your list of accomplishments: YOU exercise at 8 o'clock morning rounds. When you are not on call, you take that time walking briskly to patients' bedsides. You focus while attending in the OR. Then to get the adrenalin back up, you take a final walk to the far parking lot for your commute home. You carry laundry up two flights of stairs. You spend weekends walking as you go to the library....etc. It is hardly logical to call exercise EXERCISE only when you've set aside time to do it, but it doesn't count when you multi-task it. YOU manage to get your work out in AND do all your jobs! Your exercise conscious friends could be reminded that they are neglecting the well being and welfare of those they love in the selfish focus at the gym, when they could be doing the same thing while meeting the needs of family and acquaintances in the process--like you do! (P.S. we all know focus makes a big've put yours on people. Good for you! You also might feel guilty when you recognize that you are neglecting your well being to do that. Its ok. The world that works for us ll really would stop if less people did just that. You ARE doing enough and CANT do it all! Only God does it all and lives to brag about it!)