Balancing Life & Jiu-jitsu

image of flat stone stacked on each other on the beach

When I first started jiu-jitsu, I went on Tuesday and Thursday and lived 45 minutes away. I also worked in the middle of town, which meant running to the south edge of town to the daycare, then back north for practice. Life was chaotic. Factor in things like dinner, homework, preparing for the next day and getting to bed at a decent time, and life is just miserable… unless you have a plan.

As a project manager, you have to plan for the best and worst case scenarios. I also like a little routine so I never have to wonder “did we pack that? What are we eating tonight? So I took the skills I learned at work and applied them to our standard day.


I maintain the schedule for the family. It is easier for me to do it since I also keep track of the school schedule for our daughter. When our school district made a change to their start times, our jiu-jitsu school also changed class times to allow students time to get to practice. My husband and I had to sit down and decide which days worked best for him since his job also changed which day he is scheduled for a double; he also teaches the kids class at jiu-jitsu. We decided that Monday – Wednesday, and Saturday worked best.

Now, not all of us are attending all 4 days. I attend the Monday and Tuesday class, sometimes Saturday. My daughter goes on Monday and Wednesday and my husband goes all four days. Of course, there are some weeks that we don’t make all four days and some weeks, we can’t make it at all, so we stay flexible. Communication is key here.

Every afternoon I ask my husband if he’s going to class (some days he’s out of work late and I have to let the other instructors know). If he is, great, business as usual. If not, then I make sure I leave work on time to get our daughter to practice (he usually takes her).


Obviously, we attend class fairly often, but the times are different on some days and my daughter and I have a horseback riding lesson on Thursdays when my husband works his double shift. I also meet up with friends on Wednesday when I’m not at practice.

To help track this, I like using the time block method, but in a more structured sense (if you’re new to time blocking, check out the video below).

Time blocking is often used to give you a general idea of how you’re spending your time, not exact times to start something. I use it for blocking out exactly what we’re doing, including drive time in the block. This helps me see at a glance what is going on for the day.

As for software or apps, I just use google calendar and have events set to repeat every week. This was the easiest way to plan our week, and I did it in about 5 minutes.

Personally, I only block out what’s happening after work: practice, meetups, friends, horses, etc. Any open space around that is free time.

We also maintain flexibility in our schedule. If I can’t make it on Monday, for example, I’ll attend the Wednesday class instead. I don’t always attend on Saturdays because I prefer the kick-boxing class over wrestling, and they alternate weekends. If my daughter can’t make Tuesday, we make sure she’s there on Saturday. It’s all about flexibility and being okay with yourself if you just can’t make it this week.

Meal Planning

I don’t know why this was so difficult for me to figure out. At first, we ate out every night we had practice (yeah, we put on weight, as you would expect). To save money (and our waist line) I started meal planning and doing slow cooker meals on practice nights (we were only going Tuesday and Thursday at the time). Then we moved into town putting us two blocks from both the school and jiu-jitsu. This was fantastic, more time to cook.


I’d plan slow cooker meals and schedule them for our practice days, but the days in between I thought “no problem, I’ll cook”. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Slowly, we were eating through our backup meals and then, eating out altogether, mainly because I was too tired to cook after class. All that changed when I received an instant pot for Christmas.

The day before I shop, I plan our dinner meals for the week and what day to cook them on. Then, on the weekend, I prep everything and freeze the Monday – Friday meals. This allows me to take them out the night before and toss them into the instant pot before practice. Just like that, no more eating out.

Now, we save the eating out nights for special occasions when my husband and I can have a night to ourselves.

Meal Prep

As I mentioned above, I prepare a week’s worth of meals, usually on Saturday. It takes me 45 minutes to an hour. Not bad for a full week of healthy dinners.

I also wanted to provide a few helpful tips that I’ve learned over the years.

The instant pot is your best friend. I take our meal out the night before and toss them in before I leave for practice. The trick here is the container size. I have a 6 quart instant pot, so I purchased five 72oz round containers from the dollar and they fit perfectly into my instant pot. I also don’t include the meat in the container. Instead, I put that at the bottom if the instant pot, then pour everything on top.

The slow cooker is also your best friend, especially if you don’t have time to go home before practice. I use this on the weekend and less so during the week, but, this was my go-to for about 3 years. Just toss everything in, set the length of time and you’re done. I have found that the 28oz containers for the instant pot also work in my slow cooker. You can also use the slow cooker setting on your instant pot is you don’t have a slow cooker.

Have a backup meal. Occasionally, I’ll double a recipe, cook it, then freeze half. This allows me to have a backup meal for emergencies when we’re running late or we’re out of leftovers. Just pull it out of the freezer, reheat and you’re all set.

It’s all about the balance

For me, I like knowing what’s going on each day and not have to think about what we’re eating. After a stressful day at work, the last thing anyone wants is more stress. By finding the balance between work and life, we’ve been able to establish a smooth routine, without the stress.

I try to apply the same balance to my jiu-jitsu game. I mean, if a girl can’t find her balance, how will she grow?