I noticed that I’d written two other “focusing on” titles, one for work and one for fitness. I thought I might as well round out the unintentional series with a few thoughts on finding focus in love.
One of the major mental shifts in the transition from monogamy to polyamory has been paying attention not only to the amount of time I spend with each partner but exactly how we use that time.
When it was just Ben and I we could spend all weekend getting things done like grocery shopping, Costco trips, little fixes around the house and cleaning. It might easily become much needed time to get to the things that, for one reason or another weren’t accomplished during the week. As a monogamous couple, this sort of weekday procrastination and weekend productivity worked. Now however if we blow through a couple days getting a lot of practical things done it feels like we really haven’t had that time together and before we know it we are out on dates with other partners and having second thoughts about what we did with our time together.
Of course, the housework doesn’t stop needing to get done just because our personal lives got busier. So we have to be more careful about planning so that everything can get done without sacrificing too much personal time.
Since I work from home I try to get a lot of bigger household tasks like cleaning the floors and big clean-ups done during the day while everyone else is at work. That way these things don’t become pressing on the weekend when someone else has the time to get to them. Besides, it’s easier to clean when there’s only one person home and that doesn’t happen often outside of work hours.
Getting tasks that require focus and labor like floors, windows, and other washing out of the way while everyone at work leaves the more passive tasks like running the laundry machines for evenings and weekends. These tasks fit more easily into plans because you can just move the items and then go back to your date while the machines do the work.
It’s about more than chores though. Sometimes even if we aren’t doing chores together we aren’t paying attention to each other either. Almost eight years of monogamy meant getting used to having endless time together. So what if one or two nights were lazy, spent doing our own things like me working on the blog and him playing guitar – there was always tomorrow.
Now that isn’t so true. If we use our time together in separate endeavors we miss each other and again, rethink how we spent that time.
It takes more focus in each relationship to ensure that the time spent together doesn’t slip away without us actually connecting and appreciating that we’re together.
That doesn’t mean we have to drop everything either. It’s as simple as holding hands while you shop, taking a second in the car between stops to let your partner know you’re enjoying the time with them or grateful for them helping you get these things done and maybe stopping to enjoy a meal together while knocking tasks off the to-do list.
It’s funny how we don’t always think about the logistical side of running a relationship in relation to running a household but the two can either support or impede each other depending on how carefully time is considered and valued by all parties.
What’s your favorite way to slip a little romance into everyday life?
One of the biggest challenges working gig-to-gig is feeling that I don’t control my work or income. I can’t force students to book a certain number of classes just because that number would equal out to my ideal income. I can’t always make jobs appear or make my efforts pay off as big as I want them too.
So what’s a girl to do?
Focus on what I can control and how to make those things go as far as possible. I wrote in my post Find Your Hustle about the importance of keeping more than one stream of income.
For example, right now my students are celebrating a national holiday and bookings are way down. How am I going to make up the income of a couple weeks having lower than average booking rates?
Teaching is really my main gig. Of all the streams of income I have right now, it pays the most, and it pays the most consistently. At times like this when that consistency is a little less reliable than normal, I can focus on transcribing. I don’t transcribe that much in an average month because I’m very picky about the jobs I’ll take (I need high-quality audio to ensure I transcribe accurately and produce good work.). Perhaps this month I’ll be a little less picky and more focused on putting in time at the keyboard.
I’ve had a lot more time than usual on my hands with these lowered booking rates. It’s allowed me to give this blog some much-needed love at the time of launch, for example. Even though I’m not counting on the blog for major income it’s still something I value having the time to build and work on so the lower bookings can be taken as a blessing.
This almost goes with adding some extra hustle. Just as you might use the unexpected time off from your main gig to put some love into a project that may or may not be income-generating you can also use this time to check out any new companies and opportunities in your field. Maybe you’ll find a few more gig-providing companies to start a relationship with and further diversify your streams of income.
Ultimately a downturn with one gig might just mean lower income for a period of time. Even if you mitigate the impact by increasing productivity on some of your smaller gigs you need a flexible lifestyle. For example, if you have subscription boxes or other lifestyle expenses you can “skip” for a month or cancel go ahead and cut costs to lessen the impact of a low-income month.
When it comes down to it sometimes you have to just go with the flow and enjoy the time off!
The truth is most of the reasonably reputable fitness programs out there do work.
Whether it’s a 7-minute workout app, one of Anna Victoria’s programs (my personal faves), the programs of her competitors… or just a regular old treadmill and schedule… most programs do work. The missing ingredient isn’t what one program has and another doesn’t, it’s participation and follow-through.
I like things to happen instantly. I guess I am used to the instant satisfaction of social media and high-speed internet, instant downloads and such. So I acknowledge that this is true about me: when I get a few weeks into a program and don’t see crazy results I start being curious about other programs and can be seduced by their promises.
It’s easy to forget that the before and after photos for ANY program’s advertisements are going to show people who have done the WHOLE program. Not just part of it. So why am I holding it against the program that I don’t see those results when I’m only part way through?
It’s not a super logical way to go about fitness. However, since I myself am susceptible to thinking that I should just move on I’m here to remind you the key is working hard. You can choose any framework and plan to give yourself structure and timelines but no plan works unless you do.
Here are my top 5 strategies for staying focused:
You know you want to get fit and healthy. And you know how. You have good food and a workout plan picked out… but this is about you.
You start thinking you’re so busy, or so tired, or not wearing the right clothes… you start to negotiate with yourself about how you didn’t snack so you don’t need to do the full workout or how you could just do two workouts tomorrow instead of one today and one tomorrow…
When you start negotiating you start slipping. Don’t let yourself do that. Hold yourself to a high standard and remind yourself that if you compromise on your workout and meals, even just here and there, you’re compromising on the big goals that inspired you to start this plan.
Okay so, of course, it seems ideal to just schedule your workout and know that at this particular time you need to be getting sweaty. But if you find that nailing down a time doesn’t really promote the commitment you need then give yourself a daily deadline. For example, I know that I get my best results (I work hardest, and I make better decisions for the rest of my day) when I work out in the morning. Doesn’t really matter if it’s at 8:30am or 11:30am… as long as it is before noon. Noon is a mental divide for me. When I workout before then it sets my mood for the rest of the day and translates to better decisions food wise and continuing to move and be active.
But if I don’t work out before noon I tend to stay lazy. I snack passively and never really get moving or active.
So even though I don’t set a specific time to work out most days, I know my daily deadline is noon and I need to plan to workout before then.
Really, it comes down to having a plan, whatever is the most effective style or format for you.
I talked in my post How a Virtual Community is Fuelling Success in Real Life about starting my fitness-focused Instagram account, @fitish.kitten . I had that account locked down as tight as I could – new followers had to send a request and be approved, and I used a quote instead of my face for a profile picture. If it came up in my friend’s social feeds as a recommended account it wouldn’t come up as me; my name and image were invisible unless you followed me and I did not allow most people I knew to follow me.
It was as though my desire to get fit was a secret.
I have photos of myself in typical stripped-down fitness wear for “before” photos and progress photos on this account. Originally the idea that people I knew, friends and family, would see these photos was horrifying to me. Like stop dead in my tracks and sweat a lot horrifying.
Recently I realized it shouldn’t be. It’s no secret that I want to get fit. My body isn’t a secret, either. So I’ve got a little more curve than I want… it’s not a sin and it doesn’t need to be a secret.
There’s a lot of social support in posting online. There’s always positive role models and friends to remind you of your accomplishments and provide advice and encouragement through challenges.
Sometimes even more needed though is the social pressure. At this time I have 875 followers with @fitish.kitten. That blows my mind! I’m so honored that all those people wanted to see where I take my fitness journey… and sometimes, not wanting to let them down is the only reason I work out! (shhh!)
It’s like they say, pressure makes diamonds!
It’s a body-positive world. For the most part, when you’re focused on a slimmer body and looking better you’ll find that these goals lose impact over time. One day I put on an outfit that doesn’t fit right and I hate the shape of my body so I get really motivated for working out and eating better. But a few weeks later I buy a better-fitting outfit and I can move on.
I don’t need to lose weight to be loved. I don’t need to lose weight to be attractive. I don’t need to lose weight to be who I am and contribute to society.
So… why do I need to lose weight? Why do I need to take time out of my day to bond with the treadmill? And why do I need to put down the fries and make veggies my new BFF’s?
Because I can feel the difference. The moment I can go from my basement to the top floor of my house and not be awkwardly out of breath with a racing heart. The moment I can walk my hyperactive dog for an hour an a half without breaking a sweat. The moment I can say yes to trying new activities without doing the mental math on if I’m physically capable and how embarrassing failure might be.
These are the moments that keep me going and focused and motivated. The looks are a great benefit to having a healthy lifestyle but when changing my appearance was my only reason, I found better things to do with my time.
I fully believe in cheating on your diet from time to time. I’ve come to feel there’s a difference though between just cheating because you miss junk food and cheating because it’s part of a larger lifestyle to enjoy a healthy indulgence now and then.
For example, there’s a difference between me crushing a bag of chips alone while binging through the latest Netflix release simply because I deserve them as a treat and like snacking while I watch tv…. and me enjoying a super greasy burger while out with friends.
In one scenario the junk food has no purpose and adds nothing to my life. I would have watched the show anyway and I could have snacked on veggies or fruit with the same effect. However in the other scenario, the food wasn’t really the point – the social time with friends is. It’s nice to say yes to a cheat meal when doing so frees up the mental energy of eating healthy for you to give your friends your full attention while enjoying a night out.
Besides, for me personally, when I give myself a treat meal in isolation it’s almost like nobody saw it so it didn’t happen and I can just casually have another, and another until I’m binge eating whenever I’m alone. Which is every day given that I work from home and my partners have 9-5 jobs outside the home. It’s not healthy for me to develop habits like that so now I’m focusing on cheat meals that add value beyond just being a cheat meal for the sake of it.
What are the go-to ways you keep yourself on track?
With Valentine’s day around the corner I wanted to put something out there:
Polyamory is the belief that we can love more than one person. There’s no reason why the love you give to multiple people has to be any different than the fairy tale love we’re familiar with. Polyamorous romances can be just as intense, long-lasting and committed as monogamous ones.
The thing is that when I fell in love with my husband there was a script for what to do with our feelings as a young, monogamous couple. We could easily google, for example, what we legally needed to do to become wed. We could find out about the process of applying for a marriage license, where to send it, what documents we would need to complete this process.
We could also find endless resources for how to plan a wedding. We could get ideas on how to make our wedding come together from tv shows, pinterest, magazines, friends or family and everywhere in between.
It’s a little different when you’re polyamorous and fall in love.
There aren’t tv shows about planning a poly wedding. And because in Canada where we live you can’t legally marry more than one person it’s much harder to just google what the process might look like.
That’s kind of scary, for about half a second, and then it’s totally freeing. There isn’t a script – we get to write it!
So here are a few thoughts on commitment when you’re in polyamorous relationships!
I have a great respect for people who keep some aspect of themselves and their love lives “in the closet”. Whether it’s polyamory, a matter of sexuality, or gender identity – it isn’t easy. We kept our polyamorous relationships secret for the first couple months while we all developed our own understanding of what was happening. We didn’t want to tell people what was happening before we had all the answers. At first, we didn’t even know what to call each other, much less if this was going to last. Until we knew those things, we worked on our relationships strictly in private.
It was hard. Given that we’re all reasonably privileged and had never had to hide a
relationship before it was frustrating and a constant, irritating limitation to check ourselves – not reaching for each other’ss hands or kissing in public.
That made the decision to come out easy for us. Make no mistake though, not all of the responses we got were easy to handle. We have a strong appreciation for why some people never come out.
But we’re glad we have and it makes thinking about living together, and staying committed easier to be excited about since we won’t have to hide the true nature of our relationships.
Of course Ben and I had a perfectly happy little home, as did Maggie and Tom, before we all started dating. As the feelings grew stronger we had to start seriously asking ourselves where this could go. When we started dating our spouses that script was there to support us: if it’s going well, make it facebook official. When you don’t want to sleep without them anymore move in, and so on.
What about us now? Do poly people follow that at all?
The answer is – sure, if they want to!
And we do, so we are. Ben and I are moving into Maggie and Tom’s house. We have all acknowledged that this isn’t really for practical reasons – we were all perfectly able to run our own households. But we wanted the time together. We spend more time than we care to admit driving back and forth. Our current houses are about a half hour apart so it’s kind of a pain to always be commuting here and there.
When we sat down and thought out what we all value in our households, the presence of the people we love was number one. More broadly, our priorities and goals about how we believe a household should be run were compatible so the move makes sense for us and is underway.
Maybe we won’t do anything. Maybe we’ll just make our home and keep living our lives, happily ever after. Then again, just because we can’t legally marry our new partners doesn’t mean that we can’t have a wedding. After all the legal part of getting married is a 30 second moment after the ceremony when we actually signed the paperwork. It’s still a wedding without that moment.
As far as the ceremony goes… we get to make it up! We can say vows that make sense to us, involve a wedding party or not, invite whoever we want… there aren’t a whole ton of rules for how this is done!
Just think – when I married my husband there were magazines and a tradition full of must’s and mustn’ts that I needed to follow in order to participate in the tradition. Now though, commitment means designing something that reflects only us and nothing else.
At this point, children are probably the most popular thing for people to ask us about. Each of us being a couple years into our marriage, and between us having good jobs and stable relationships people were starting to ask us as married couples when we would have kids even before we got together.
The reality is that any thoughts of having kids have been shifted back a few years. We all really value forming tangible commitments before bringing children into the picture. Give us time to live together and continue building our lives to match the new family structure before expecting us to add to the family!
That being said, people’s main concern seems to be who will parent the children. The short answer is: it’s not their business.
We all love each other. I don’t know who will create children with who, but I know those children will have 4 parents to love them unconditionally. And I expect that to be enough knowledge for the others who love our children.
All in all the most complicated part of being committed and polyamorous is figuring out how holidays like Valentine’s day work! We get to write our own script and I love that about the direction our lives are going.
Comment your questions and thoughts!
So you’ve decided that you’d love to let go of the 9-5 and make it on your own, doing work that you’re connected to. But how? The moment I realized this is what I wanted felt great, and the moment right after I was filled with daunting questions.
If I work for myself, what the heck do I even do exactly?
If you’re not sure what it should be that you set up a business doing start listening to the people in your life.
What do they admire you for? What do they wish they could do like you? What do they pay someone to do that you do for yourself?
For example, I’m really bad with numbers. Not only that, but perhaps more problematically, I have very low confidence in my ability to work with numbers. So even when I sit down and figure out the math on something I’m still very uncertain that I’ve done it correctly, and I don’t trust my own results. Come tax time this means I pay someone to do my taxes.
Friends who are great with numbers and confident in their abilities save the fees that I gladly pay to know for certain that things are done right, and if they aren’t it isn’t my fault.
My mom is amazingly creative, she has a scary good eye for color and is very crafty. When I was growing up there were lots of quilts, dolls, and clothing I had that others admired and she made with her own two hands. I remember her having various business projects making things like wedding dresses, dance costumes, and quilts for others. What she was great at, and they couldn’t do themselves, she made a profit from.
That’s the key to this whole gig economy thing. Listen to what others admire about you, become conscious of the skills you have that are so natural to you that you almost forget they’re special.
Those skills are the key to monetizing yourself.
I have always loved writing. It never seemed like a special skill to me. It was just something I loved and others seemed to enjoy so I kept at it. Now here I am making it part of how I control my income – from the blog to transcription.
Even teaching is part of this for me. I love to talk, I like kids, I’m good at English and approaching a concept from different angles until I’ve made it make sense for someone else. It’s all communication and strong communication is what I excel at. I never really practiced those things, I never really realized that they were different for me than others. Yet so many people listen to me describe my teaching job and say “That’s awesome, I couldn’t do that.”
When you have something you love that others say they just couldn’t do, you can usually find a way to take that to the bank. Let them know they don’t have to, for a small fee, you’ll get it done for them!
Comment with a skill or a few skills you have that others pay for (even if they aren’t paying you for it, yet 😉
I’ve tried lots of diet and work out programs through the ages. They all have something going for them, and all have one thing in common: participation is truly the key to success.
If you’re not following the food plan and doing the work outs you can’t really judge if the program was a success because you didn’t participate.
So this is the first time I can really start talking about the success of a program. I can speak to about the first four weeks of Anna Victoria’s FBG (Fit Body Guide) as I followed them and saw wonderful initial results. However I got busy with life and did not fully participate in the program after that.
Now I’m on Anna Victoria’s most recent release – the Body love app – and I am in love!
The format of an app versus a downloaded document is so simple but for me, it’s a total game changer. It kind of sucks to admit that I need a) that constant accessibility and idiot-proof format that the app allows, and b) the pressure of an ongoing subscription payment to remind me of my ongoing commitment.
On the note of an ongoing subscription payment – part of how I financially justify this is that I don’t pay for a gym so that helps. The program doesn’t require a gym, just some free weights and the odd time you’ll have to repurpose a dining room chair or the edge of our couch for dips, etc.
So I’m in my fourth week with this app and as I said, I am in love. I haven’t been following the meal plan very strictly but I have been making improvements by adding more vegetables, cutting back on soda and starches, and downsizing my portions. I have also been dedicated to the work outs because I love how easy they are to follow and the sense of accomplishment from seeing those little checks beside each workout on the calendar.
I’ll post when I do my four week progress pictures at the end of this week, as well as sharing my daily adventures through the instagram account @fitish.kitten.
What are your favourite fitness programs?
First and foremost: who are we?
I am Carmen, and my husband is Ben.
Maggie is my best friend turned girlfriend, and Tom is her husband.
Tom and I are dating, as are Maggie and Ben.
Confused yet, so were we!
Polyamory is, at its core, the belief that we can love and choose to have meaningful, romantic relationships with more than one person. It is broad and inclusive.
Individuals subscribing to this unifying idea may still choose to shape their relationships differently. Many people who subscribe to polyamory reject any sort of limitation. They choose to maintain as many relationships as they are personally able to commit to and do not allow the existence of any one relationship to limit the existence or scope of the others.
That’s not quite how we have chosen to express our belief in polyamory.
We call ourselves a “pod”. We are two married couples with five relationships between us: the two marriages, myself and Tom, Maggie and Ben, plus Maggie and I. We are all committed to these five relationships and are not interested in developing any more romantic connections outside of our pod.
We firmly and fiercely believe in our ability to love more than just one person, and in the value of supporting our spouses and each other in all of our relationships.
This is what polyamory means to us. We are a family and we support each other and each others relationships. No one relationships is valued over the others – instead, we recognize that everyone’s needs are met more fully when we work together. For example, when Maggie is sick she might find Ben’s company more comforting that Tom’s simply because Tom is more practical whereas Ben is softer in how he looks after Maggie. Given that she didn’t ask to be sick, I make sure Ben and I are available and don’t hold Ben all to myself just because he’s my husband.
In return, Tom and Maggie have both been flexible when Ben or I were craving the company of one of them despite everyone having other plans.
Furthermore we all fulfill different roles within the house. The same as you can ask any monogamous couple who does more cooking and who does more planning, we are all working together to make our household function smoothly.
So there’s a little bit about my family and what polyamory means for us.
Stay tuned for more of our crazy adventures!
When you work for yourself, chances are there aren’t a lot of opportunities for promotion. Or there are, but they look a lot different than your traditional corporate promotion and they don’t always serve as the most accurate markers of success and development.
For example, there are some limited opportunities for promotion with my teaching company in that some teachers are invited to take on non-teaching rolls with the company. It’s a great way to add a little extra work and experience when you get these additional roles , however they may not satisfy the ladder climbing itch the way a traditional promotion does.
That’s why I want to take a second to talk about the value of Goals. Goals give us something concrete to work towards, encourage us to plan for accomplishment and to always have a plan we are paying attention to. Reaching a goal gives us a moment when we can pause and celebrate our success.
Did you want to connect with a certain number of new clients this month – and successfully do so? Share that news with your partners or family and let them congratulate you.
Did you want to grow your social network reach by a certain number of followers and have you met that goal? Take a moment to thank those who follow you with a little #humblebrag post!
These goals help you stay focused and give your work purpose and meaning in the context of your life.
Accomplishing goals also provides the opportunity to set bigger and more ambitious goals. Much like being given a bigger role in a traditional company, feeling that bigger goals are possible for you satisfies a sort of constant growth and promotion desire. For example, if my first goal is to reach 100 followers on instagram by the end of the month and come the end of the month I have 125 followers, perhaps my next goal will be to reach 250 in a month. Seeing success will allow me to make data-based decisions about my capabilities and see my capabilities grow through my data.
Without goals we are working solely to make money and pay bills. Ultimately this is unavoidably important but it isn’t enough to motivate us. I want to pay my bills comfortably as much as the next person but working from home and not knowing why I’m doing it other than to continue existing becomes lonely, tedious and isolating.
We crave purpose, meaning and accomplishment and we can infuse our gig-to-gig life with these elements when we set and aggressively pursue goals that mean something to us!
What are your goals? How do you measure success?
So I’ve talked about setting my mind to losing weight then gaining it instead. Now let’s talk about the first challenge of weight loss:
I get on the treadmill and after 5 minutes I’m day dreaming about the moment I can put my butt back down on the couch.
I turn on my fave fitness app and feel my body struggle to complete all the moves.
But my mind is on my side. I know that the only way to get stronger is to do the things I struggle with until I don’t struggle anymore.
I’ve learned this after years of struggling. You can’t wish it away.
What does persistence mean?
Doing things that are uncomfortable
Like staying on the treadmill and continuing the workout when I’m embarrassed of how much I struggle.
Eating new foods.
Trying new activities.
Doing things again, and again, and again...
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could eat well and be active for a day, or like… a week… and poof, that hard work would be rewarded with the bodies we were trying to build.
I wish. But it doesn’t happen like that. You’ll have to keep working even when you feel like there’s no results.
As they say, Trust the process.
Insisting on Support, Ignoring Temptation
I love when my husband makes delicious homemade bacon cheeseburgers, or my partners take me to a favourite restaurant on date night… but these things don’t support my goals and I’m still really bad when there’s temptation in front of me.
I wanted my fitness journey to be something I could do all on my own without asking anything from anyone else. But that’s just not feasible when I’m in three relationships. I have to let the people I’m with be a part of this, invite them to make healthy choices and enjoy healthy meals with me.
Or sometimes it means asking them to get out of my hair for an hour so I can work out.
Here it is, only the beginning of posting honestly about the journey I’m on.
What are your biggest setbacks for your goals?
1. Almost as reliably as people ask if my tattoos hurt, they ask if my hair is real.
Yep. Grew it myself.
2. I’m more confident.
There isn’t a lot of room for self doubt (and it’s hard to sneak passed anyone) when you have the brightest hair in the room.
3. I clash with a bunch of my clothes.
I put on my favourite bright red hoodie and cried a little. Good thing I always liked black.
4. I’m stubborn about it.
I always said it’s just hair and if I came across a job or something where it wasn’t appropriate, I could just change it to something more neutral. But I’m a little more attached than that so if someone doesn’t like my hair, they don’t like me.
5. It takes work.
Expensive products that are time consuming to use. Not to mention the time I spend cleaning the shower after I use it. I go to the hairdresser to get it coloured but I use a pigmented conditioner to maintain the vibrancy in between salon visits. With bright hair like this there’s no time to be lazy or it gets looking kind of sad. I don’t need the whole world seeing it on my head when I’m lazy!
6. It’s like a no-effort accessory
At least after all that work and money it makes me look ready to go with very little effort – take it down and brush it, and I’m good to go.
7. It’s really fun to style.
Plus when I do more than take it down and brush it, I have a lot of fun putting it in new styles to show off the colours.
8. I’m easy to find in a crowd.
Yeah, like I said… kind of hard to sneak passed anyone.
9. Do not try this at home.
Blue shower. Blue floors. Blue walls. Blue hands. Blue face… just leave applying you’re bright fantasy colours to the professional. A little maintenance like a pigmented conditioner is do-able but creating this look all on your own is not – especially not if you need bleach.
10. Trust your hair dresser
I never asked for blue hair. One day my hairdresser suggested that it would look nice with the purple and pink I already had and I totally trust her so here we are!