Finding a Balance

After two months in Dubai adjusting to my new life, new job, new friends and new relationships it’s time to get the show back on the road again and get back into a regular training routine. As an expat not always the easiest thing to do.

It’s funny how mindsets can quickly change.

In the preceding few months before I came to Dubai, the part of the day which I gave most importance to was my daily workout, usually late morning, in the gym or at home. It was probably the most enjoyable part too. It was the only thing I had planned and the one thing I always knew with certainty I was going to do. Everything else fitted around it, or in some cases didn’t. But my training always got done.

I wasn’t doing much else at the time. I wasn’t working and had moved back home to Waterford to wait for my official teaching contract to come through. The wait was very similar to how I’ve felt anytime I’ve ever come across road works with those makeshift traffic lights that seem to stay red for an eternity. You get agitated and restless and just want to be let through. In this case, I had to wait for months not knowing when I would get the final go ahead. In the meantime, I just trained, ate well, and slept, a lot.

For me, as much as anything else, training helped fill a void that I had allowed myself to believe existed at the time. It kept me sane and stopped my mind from going into overdrive while I waited. I set small goals like lifting heavier, getting faster, dropping body fat or putting on muscle mass. As much as being competitive in sport and in good health, setting and meeting goals in the gym simply made me feel better about life. It was something I could affect each day rather than focusing on a potential job offer of which I had no control over. As mentioned in my previous post, I had allowed a feeling of underachievement, both personally and professionally, creep into my mindset. Rightly or wrongly I balanced this with small accomplishments in my training. With parts of my life still unclear this provided a chance to focus on something concrete each day and give the feeling of still moving forward in some way.

All that was then however. This is now; almost two months later. I live on food deliveries, take mid-afternoon naps, drink more alcohol and have been to the gym just two times since. Up until now I’ve had zero motivation to really change any of that. I still don’t if I’m honest. The challenges of a new place, new job, making new friends and new relationships have all taken priority while working out has got lost somewhere down the list.

Instead of it being the focus of my day it is now the reverse. I find myself trying to fit it around everything else that is happening in life. Sometimes life just takes over and that’s fine. In the last eight weeks, I’ve had my fill of hamburgers and hotdogs. I’ve even had the best time scouring Dubai’s cafes and restaurants for the perfect cheesecake, dealing with the highs and lows along the way. Although, I’ll probably put the search aside for now, I’m convinced that special one is still out there. Waiting silently.

On a more serious note, the toughest part after taking a break is always starting back. Making it part of your daily routine again. The reason I haven’t done so is not due to the massive changes in my life nor is it because I haven’t had time but simply because I haven’t planned for it properly in my life over here yet.

With that in mind I’ve decided to address two things:

1 Make a schedule

Taking some time out from my day to write out my goals and make out a workout schedule based on those goals. It’s difficult to be motivated to train if you don’t know what it is you want to achieve. I’ve found that for me I need structure and an overall plan to follow even if it’s tweaked a bit along the way. Training when I feel like it or when I’m in the mood makes it too easy to ignore and make excuses. More often than not it just doesn’t get done.

2. Sleep more

It’s well and good making out a plan and time schedule but I need to be able to physically implement that plan. In Dubai, if you teach at a public boys school, which I do, you begin work at 7am. I’ve got by, so far, on about five hours sleep each night, just enough to get through work but it has left me craving a nap by the time I get home. A specific workout plan for the following day should be enough to get my ass to bed early. Work just hasn’t done it up to now.

As I prepare (or try) to get the show on the road again I’d love to hear:

How you deal with big periods of change?  

How easy or difficult is it for you to get back into your training routine?

How you manage your overall life balance?

Author: Gaelic Guy Abroad

Mark is an ESL teacher currently living and teaching in Dubai. He spends his time trying to make good life decisions, keep fit and battle his cheesecake addiction.

7 thoughts on “Finding a Balance”

  1. I’m a huge planner! I have to write my goals etc down and so it pushes me more to complete them. But I do set fluid goals so for example like with training, I’ll write up a few different exercises to do daily but then choose which one(s) to do on the day so it doesn’t feel so boring and rigid.
    It is hard finding that ideal life balance but I think routine is good for everyone so breaking down your day and setting goals of what you want to achieve but also plan B in the event you don’t meet that goal how can you go about it another way – so you’re not just dismissing any goals you don’t meet but setting new deadlines for them! I hope that makes sense LOL!

    1. Hey thanks for your comment. Yep that does make sense. I try to make sure I’m not doing the same thing every day and mix it up as much as i can.
      I usually have my weekly goals in terms of what workouts I want to get done and these are split into different days. So if something comes up then I can still move it to a free morning or evening some other day. Usually anyway lol

  2. I think getting back into routine is difficult , especially exercise even after a long holiday let alone a big transition into a new country and new job . I think the first thing to do is prioritize! That’s how I manage my hectic life , we grow , we change and so do our prioritize . Perhaps getting comfortable and getting used to this new city is more important than getting your workout , don’t be hard on yourself and Goodluck !

    1. Yep that’s true. I agree that over time priorities do change. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the city so far and don’t actually regret putting exercise on the back burner for a while. It’s allowed me to focus on other things and still be content. Maybe that’s a kind of balance in itself.

  3. Getting back into a workout routine can definitely be difficult. Especially in the UAE where ones social life seems to take precedent over everything else. And the accessibility of ordering in doesn’t help. Check out La Farine at the JW Marriott Marquis in business bay for that cheesecake. But on another note I know what you mean about not having a plan. Dubai has some great races and obstacle courses you can train for. Maybe check out Desert Warrior it might be something to plan and train for!

      1. Haha you’ve made my day. JW Marriott sounds like a plan. The search continues😃 Some great advice though thanks. Some of those races do sound cool. Will definitely check out your post for more info 🙂

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