Litigation can be both mentally and physically challenging! However, here at SAC, we seem to have managed to overcome this challenge by keeping in tip-top shape with proper diet, exercise and rest. We call this being “litigation ready,” and in today’s work environment, this is more important than ever.
It’s also no secret that it has become harder to achieve the right balance between work, family, down time and personal time. In my case, I found that I had to “rebalance” to hit the right balance. I had done my best to stay physically fit throughout my adult life and I was able to do so even with my career and work demands. But then came the arrival of my first daughter on Christmas Eve 2011 (thank you, Santa!) and my second daughter earlier this year. That’s when the rebalancing act had to begin.
Along with those bundles of joy came everything new parents know so well – stress, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and much less free time. Suddenly the leisurely gym workouts and weekend yoga sessions seemed to be a distant memory from my pre-parenthood life. And all at a time when I needed more energy than ever for nightly bottle feedings and the never-ending challenge of keeping a toddler entertained and out of trouble. And with a wife who is a full-time neurologist with a busy practice, relying on my spouse for childcare was not an option. Both mommy and daddy had to make adjustments.
While there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, I have found some tricks for helping me keep reasonably healthy while allowing me to fulfill my roles as litigator, father and husband. I hope you find them helpful as well.
- Home Exercise: After becoming a father, the low monthly rate I locked in for my gym membership did not seem like such a deal once I started making it there every couple of months at best. But I found many great home workouts available on DVD. My personal favorite is one that provides a great whole body workout and requires no equipment, with most sessions lasting 40 minutes or less. I do these workouts after the kids are asleep (often 8 P.M. or later) which can be difficult. However, I find that a couple of these workouts a week makes a huge difference. Plus I do get some benefits from working out at home – I no longer have the chore of driving to and from the gym, finding parking, or waiting in line for the treadmill.
- Portion Control: The days of eating whatever I wanted secure in the knowledge that I would just burn off the calories with my workouts and runs are long gone. Portion control is now a lot more important. Now I make small meals at home instead of eating out during work hours, which saves calories and money. And if you need a “jump start” in this direction, there are some great food programs out there. I personally have enjoyed one that delivers daily fresh meals to your door, but there are many such programs on the market. While the cost of these programs might be a bit high as a permanent solution, they can at least show you how to make smaller meals for yourself in the long term.
- Adjust Your Schedule: “Early to bed and early to rise” might have worked for Benjamin Franklin, but it was not a personal motto for me as a young attorney. However, as a new parent, I found it necessary to wake up early to beat the traffic into work, and then hopefully get home at a reasonable hour for some quality time with the kids. The good news is that I can also get in some great exercise during these early morning hours. I try to fit in a 6 A.M. yoga session before work once a week, something I would have never considered before having kids. But the sleep time I lose is more than made up for by the strength and vitality I feel for the next several days.
So what is the bottom line? Despite getting much less nightly sleep than I did before having kids, I can honestly say I’ve managed to stay reasonably fit and my energy levels are much more consistent. Perhaps part of it is the joy of parenthood, along with the joy of assisting healthcare providers in some very difficult times. I can honestly say both my job and personal life provide meaning and fulfillment …who can ask for more?
This blog is one in an occasional series by SAC’s staff attorneys on their approaches to achieving work-life balance to stay “litigation ready” in our fast-paced world. We hope you find their suggestions helpful in your professional and personal life as well.