The Art of Balance

We’re all works in progress.

We’re all students of life.

And we’re all just doing our best.

I find it so entertaining to read thoughts I wrote down less than 2 months ago and reflect on how much my opinion on (insert literally anything) has changed since truly dissecting the subject.

Today’s subject: B A L A N C E. I’m really hoping to read some of your takes on balance and how you maintain sanity while juggling everything you’ve set yourself to accomplish/practice.

I completed a post in August, following my training for the wellness center. Since then I’ve been working on additional projects all while trying to foster new and old relationships and enhance my physical, mental, & spiritual health. Sounds simple, right? It didn’t seem like such an undertaking when I was in it.

My projects, as mentioned in my previous post, include becoming a holistic health coach (and everything that goes alongside that), running a women’s group aka world and documenting the journey via this blog. To be quite frank, I wasn’t really thinking of all of the work and time that would go into each when mentally signing up for all of it.

With my current position requiring much more stamina than I predicted, as the hours are different than I’m used to and it’s a completely new field for me, I am 100% whooped, mentally and physically, by the end of my shifts. This has required a m a j o r adjustment in my plans to wake up early, map out my day, exercise, accomplish as much as possible, work, then study. Why wasn’t this possible? WHALE. I wasn’t thinking about how I’ll be going through a plethora of side effects from quitting the pill as I try to reduce the amount of chemicals in my body. I wasn’t considering that despite how well I’ve been mentally dealing with stress, my subconscious self and body are still present and BOY, does that stress show up as a debilitating force in my upper back, creating an obstacle for my overall positivity, work performance, sleep and exercise. I also wasn’t considering all of the time and energy it takes for me to properly plan out my trips to the grocery stores/farmers market and making all of the soups and stews this season has us craving. Speaking of seasons, I also wasn’t considering the change of daylight still affecting me, despite all of the effective habits I had incorporated into my daily lifestyle.

Fast forward to this past Monday at my bi-weekly therapy sesh with my psychologist. She gives it to me straight, as I’ve been seeing her for several years, and knows I can get slightly in over my head. Oh, and as most of the ones probably reading this knows, I am o b s e s s e d with Christmas, which adds a whole additional level of energy needed for this time of year, considering the start date of the Christmas season is November 1st. My therapist reminded me of my end goals and prioritization, which I knew she would after I told her how my anxiety was manifesting itself through my sleep, which was broken and limited. She also reminded me of the spinning plates.

The spinning plates, you wonder? You may or may not be familiar with this analogy, as it’s closely related to juggling. Focus on one plate. When the 1st plate is perfectly spinning, ONLY THEN can I attempt to spin plate 2. Plate 3 and so on. She also reminded me that despite my perception of time, the hours in a day are not flexible, therefore I need to eliminate a few plates. In conclusion, it was decided that despite my eagerness to get the ball rolling with the women’s group, I need to postpone it until closer to my completed coaching program. I need to keep it simple with Christmas, which I interpret differently than the average person, so I’m okay with that. She also reminded me about my original plan to map out my meals similarly each week, simultaneously saving time and energy.

I won’t lie. I was annoyed and disappointed. I went home and instead of taking the advice in a positive way, I sulked, binge watched recorded shows from the previous week and ate 2/3 of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy Peanut-Butter Half Baked, which I highly recommend to all of the ice cream lovers- dairy-free and not. And I followed all of that with a big ol’ bag of popcorn, which isn’t super unusual for me. Popcorn = life. I talked about it with my mom (after some stubbornness to keep it to myself and let it fester for a while) and a friend, which of course helped, and went to sleep earlier than usual. I woke up feeling 78% percent better and lighter.

Sometimes we just need those days. And I’m 128% okay with that. I know that I’ll never have a stamina like Rachel Hollis, who, to be real, is not even a real human being. She’s a darn machine with emotions- welcome to our future, folks #amiright? As I was saying, sometimes we need those days to let that sh*t sink in and settle to feel all of the emotions. But not too often! I don’t let the same thing that I would 6 months ago bring me down anymore. I choose how I’m going to react. I choose to take the time to reflect and feel the feels. And I choose to brush off the same things that would have left me in the same sulk 6 months ago. The time period seems short, but when you’re putting all of your energy into self-transformation, 6 months is an eternity.

So with all of that said, I learned that balance isn’t just about our day-to-day doings that exist in effort to accomplish our goals. It’s about how we balance the unknown WITH those undertakings, which I didn’t initially make room for- even after learning what I did following my month of training (keep reading for those details).

As stated earlier, I wrote the following entry in August while reflecting on balance:

::: Upon entering this month, maintaining balance was one of my greatest concerns with all that I was planning to juggle. I’m just beginning classes at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, which will unsurprisingly be taking up a major chunk of my time. I accepted a new position as a supervisor at a soon-to-be wellness center for … wait for it… our most beloved family members… all of our furry children! You can easily compare it to an urgent care for animals. Super cool concept if I do say so myself. While I’m excited for this new endeavor, it involved 4 weeks of formal training, with two of those being around 3.5 hours away, in Cleveland. With my eagerness to get this ball rolling, I quickly became overwhelmed by the possible setbacks in the routines I’ve worked hard to establish over the last few months.

 I aim to exercise at least 4x a week, 2-3 of those being at my favorite local studio, BeMoved Fitness, with all others at home, often led by Melissa Wood(Health). With so much progress in my nutritional journey, I was concerned I wouldn’t be as diligent with my balanced meals, drinking all of the water, and enjoying my almost daily green smoothie. It was mentioned that breakfast, lunch and dinner would be provided so I was naturally concerned that these meals wouldn’t align with the guidelines I work to follow everyday. With the above mentioned along with some additional routines and an incomparable positive attitude, I’ve been feeling great. Considering all of this, I naturally had some thoughts to explore about the next month.

Will there be a studio close by to fit in a class each day? I noticed there is a very small gym inside the hotel but how busy would it be first thing in the morning? What will the structure of the day look like while in Cleveland? Will it be weird to bring my ninja and smoothie ingredients with me to the hotel? Will the fridge be big enough? What will the provided meals look like? What time would we be eating? I aim to eat 3 solid meals a day, with plenty of space in between to properly digest the food, while avoiding hunger with the occasional healthy snack to hold me over until the next meal. I should probably mention that I have a history of an unhealthy relationship and can quickly lose control when tempted by gross food that tastes great but serves my body no purpose.

With it being a newer training program, the timeline and plans weren’t 100% established and set in stone just yet, giving me butt loads of anxiety over the unknown. Deeply believing that variety is the spice of life, I hesitate to plan my exercises and meals too far in advance, with concern of not being in the mood for that same activity or meal I was feeling a week ago because, well, that’s unfortunately just how I roll. With all of this anxiety building, I knew it was time to take action. I became “that person” to reach out and inquire about the meals being provided. I asked my nutritionist if it would be practical to bring my ninja and more. I came up with a plan for when the meals didn’t quite meet my requirements, and began to feel pretty optimistic about the next few weeks. I looked into local studios for classes, looked into the weather forecast in case I wanted to walk or run outside, and brought my yoga mat to do my Melissa Wood workouts. “I got this!” was repeatedly going through my head as I packed several grocery bags and way more than ever in the past for a week away from home.

It’s now a little over halfway through the month and I’ll admit that things didn’t go quite as planned. With that said, I can confidently say that sometimes it is A-OK to not achieve that perceived idea of balance.

My very first dinner in Cleveland took place at a lovely venue that’s unique to Ohio named Melt Bar and Grilled, whose mission is to “provide the world’s best gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and the largest variety of quality craft beer in a cool and comfortable environment.” While I had the option to stick with a salad, I couldn’t just not try their vegan Good Burger, which was 100% comparable to a (vegan) Big Mac and brought me 100% joy. I paired it with a salad instead of fries but still felt the gloom and doom of my decision within an hour of dinner as my stomach turned. With that said, I loved it and would highly recommend the place to anyone that has never been and very thankful I got that gluttonous experience out of my way on the first day of the trip. From that day forward, though those planning and organizing the meals did their best to adhere to everyone’s preferences and dietary restrictions, they normally didn’t align with my meal guidelines. I found I needed to be comfortable with going with the flow and just doing my best to be as healthy as possible. I reminded myself that stressing over it wouldn’t add any nutritional value to the meal (insert chuckle) and it’s only two total weeks of being off track a bit.

The gym was quite small indeed, with a glass wall between the equipment and the entire lobby, and I wasn’t in love the possibility of my new peers witnessing the sweaty, catastrophic sight that is I while exercising. The time slots of the classes at local studios unfortunately didn’t align with my training schedule so it was Melissa Wood videos for the win. Even with the variety in length of time, intensity, and muscle groups that her workouts offer, I struggled to get in more than 2 sessions. The mental strain of learning all of this new information alongside the need to be “on” while socializing during breaks and dinners throughout training whooped me to the core. I took advantage of our hour-long lunch breaks to walk for about 20-30 minutes, which provided relief knowing that even if I didn’t end up doing more later in the evening, I spent time intentionally moving this bod each day.

Fast forward to now, following the 4 weeks of training, I’ve come to find that once in a while it’s okay to not always achieve this picture-perfect idea of balance, and some days, weeks or months we all just have to find ways that will keep our heads above water with a smile, or grin (you choose) on our faces. Smile because we’re cuter when we’re doing it and it naturally promotes positivity within and around us.

I’ve exercised a little less than usual, ate unhealthier than I have in a long time and slept much more than usual yet feel absolutely incredible. I was graceful with myself and still provided my body with more movement and better nutrition than I would have a year ago.

With all of this said, I’ve come to realize that we all have our own definition of balance and to me, it’s doing what feels right for my overall health during whichever season of life I’m currently living. It’s feeling good about what I’m putting in my body, with the occasional indulgence of mood food. It’s taking an unplanned nap and not beating myself over it, knowing I’ll still get my fitness on and feel great about it. It’s spontaneous get-togethers with friends because, as a single, childless 32 year-old I am privileged enough to be able to drop whatever I’m doing, spend a few quality hours with some of my favorite humans and pick up wherever I left off when I return. :::

In conclusion, I haven’t been to BeMoved as often as I like. I haven’t perfected my meditation and breath work routine, as I had hoped to by now. I haven’t done more for others, which is something that really lights my fire. My vehicle isn’t as tidy as I’d like. Sometimes I eat like I’m in a nasty fight with my bod. What I have done? I’ve worked on my morning and evening routine, successful setting myself up for a quality day and smoothly sailing into a (usually) restful evening.

I’ve become more graceful and forgiving of my self when I don’t accomplish everything on my list. I move when I can, fitting in workouts and walks whenever works best for my day. Lastly, I grow excitement every single day, knowing that it’s a journey not a destination, and balance isn’t some golden ticket at the end of the road. It’s constantly evolving to fit my needs at any given time.

Now and all throughout the new year, choose kindness and forgiveness. When searching for your answer, I suggest you find a quiet moment and place and listen to your self, for only there is where you’ll discover what is truly best for you at any given moment. (I also suggest you pray to whichever God or source brings you light and energy, as you’ll get way more support than you thought was possible).

Happy season of life to you!

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