Alea Suarez – 7 Tips To ‘Fitting It All In’

Alea Suarez stops by with two weeks left in her Arnold prep. She shares the challenges of traveling, sick children, managing a business and more. How does she do it all? Check out her tips on fitting it all in and why she says “forget balance”.


Fitting It All In
By Alea Suarez

Hey Hardbodies! Wow! Prepping for the Arnold has definitely had its challenges for me this past month. I traveled to San Francisco to see family for a birthday party, my youngest son got the H2N3 God awful flu and somehow the rest of the family managed to avoid it, thank God! My business is picking up, which I am grateful for, but a little hard to manage while Hubby had to travel for work for a week and in the height of our oldest son’s basketball season.

People tell me, “I don’t know how you do it all.” Honestly, some days I don’t know either but I do have some competition survival guidelines I try to stick to in order to get it done. Mind you, this HAS to be flexible which is sometimes difficult for me, but here it is:

• Make a L.O.P. (List of Priorities) I write down what HAS to get done that day in order of importance & try my best to knock them out in that order when I have any time.

• Make a POA. (Plan of Action) My schedule is different every day so I go through everyday of the week & make an hour by hour schedule “booking appointments” for my “To Do tasks” where I don’t have a client scheduled. I try to time everything out from cardio & returning e-mails to an hour of laundry & returning text messages. I often fine there are not enough hours in the day & that’s where the LOP comes into play & can shift & change as clients schedule or cancel. That drives me a little crazy because once I get set, I don’t like to have to adjust. But I’ve learned it just goes with having your own business. Whioch leads me to #3…

• Forget balance. Balance is BS, especially for business owners who work from home part-time & homeschool part-time. When you’re trying to meet deadlines with children around, it’s laughable to think that you can somehow neatly schedule your life into “work” “family” and “me” time. Instead, I TRY to embrace the idea that sometimes your life is going to be crazy and hectic, and at other times, the pace will be a little slower.

My rule? Whatever your focus is at the moment, be present. When work is crazy, work hard to keep up. (This includes final couple of months of competition prep ;-)) Those are the weeks you’ll make a weekly meal plan for the family too so you can shop ahead & know what you’re going to make for the family. When work is slow, catch up on your LOP & enjoy your family time whenever you can, even if you have to schedule “Family time” in. Take time for your partner. Don’t worry about creating “balance” every single day; instead, look for a sense of accomplishment over the long haul.

• Do it when you can. I mean this literally “Whenever Possible.” This for me, includes: When a client cancels, waiting in line, during my warm-up or cool down on the treadmill, on the stairmill, at my son’s basketball practice, at my daughter’s gymnastics class, etc.

• Be brutally honest with yourself about time-wasters. 
I’ve talked to so many people who swear they “don’t have time” for something they really want to do, but then I watch them chatting instead of working out; partying instead of prepping their meals or working on their career goals. Of course we all need downtime, but since most people have to be on the computer anyway, it’s easy to fool ourselves that we’re “working” or “networking” when really, we’re spending about five minutes of every hour working and the rest, Tweeting our Instagram self-portrait (BSP) in the bathroom mirror and then engaging in long discussions about others’ BSP. Some multi-tasking makes my day more interesting, and it’s always possible that I’ll stumble across an amazing business idea & get inspired by someone’s quote or update pic while reading my Facebook feed…but at some point it just becomes time wasted. If you constantly feel behind, ask yourself if you really don’t have enough time – or if you’re filling the time you do have with activities that aren’t moving you toward your goals.

• Let work and life blend.
I assume you’re competing (or aspire to) for a reason: you want to compete, but you also don’t know how it would be possible. Am I close? We all want to make sure our loved ones (not just kids, friends, family, partners) aren’t getting shorted because of our competition, but in my 4 years of being self-employed & competing, I’ve found that the advice to completely separate work and home is just unrealistic. Instead, I’ve learned to embrace the fact that my work and home lives do blend for much of the day. 
That might mean I’m scheduling clients while taking my kids to run errands or checking my email from the playground bench while my eight-year-old plays. It also means that I’m careful to set aside at least 2 hours every night of focused, “totally available” time to devote to home and family. I also get up before the kids get up to do my cardio and/or train clients most days. That way, I feel like my family is getting both “quantity” and “quality” time…and I feel a lot better about the time I spend in the gym and the multi-tasking I sometimes must do.

• Do it your way.
 While I have my ways, everyone & family situation is unique. Reading about how other competing parents manage their time and energy can be inspiring, encouraging, and also gives you lots of helpful ideas you might be able to modify for your own life. The key word is modify. We all have different circumstances, goals, and work styles that can affect everything from whether you’re the get-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn-before-kids-or-work, or the burn-the-midnight-oil type, to whether you do best leaving the office or house on a much needed lunch break. 
Be flexible, and realize that what works during one season of your life might not work during another. But most of all, get to know yourself: there are lots of ways to be a successful competitor, working (or whatever your juggling) parent, so create the life and career that works for you.

That’s Hardbody!

Alea Suarez

Follow Alea on twitter at @AleaTigress and like her facebook page. You can see her competition photos on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Disclaimer: Reader discretion advised, please consult your physician before beginning any exercise or diet program.