What is balance, exactly? I know we’re all capable of defining it, but I wanted a clear definition. Google gave me two:
1.) ‘An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady’
2.) ‘A situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions’
Balance is something that we all seem to seek, but it’s also something that we often seem to struggle to achieve. I’m applying this definition of balance to a healthy lifestyle, mainly focusing on fitness and food. I speak from experience when I say that I know how hard it can be to find a form of balance with healthy eating. At some stage you have to accept that you won’t be able to eat perfectly 100% of the time. I’m not talking about unhealthy cravings, as I genuinely don’t ever crave junk food or refined sugars since I changed my approach to eating. I’m talking about those days when I perhaps have one spoonful too many of nut butter, or one piece too much fruit, or slightly too much dark chocolate. Yes, by most people’s standards, these are ‘healthy mistakes’, but it can still be easy to feel fed-up with yourself and in some extreme cases, punish yourself. It’s when people start to feel this way so strongly that it interferes with their daily lives and leads to deeply negative thoughts, that it can develop into something more serious, like orthorexia.
I’m pretty sure that everyone has had a time when they beat themselves up for a little overindulgence, and I think that’s normal. In some ways, a slight feeling of guilt can be good, and will encourage you not to fall off the healthy bandwagon in the future. However, the problem occurs when someone is unable to move on from these thoughts. I think the key saying to remember is ‘everything in moderation’, or as my Grandpa likes to say; “One swallow doesn’t make a summer”.
I think the same can be applied to exercise. I completely understand that not everyone enjoys exercise, or struggles to find the motivation to workout. That’s why I think it’s so important to find something you love. Personally I prefer to do classes rather than exercise on my own, as I love to chat and meet new people, and to be in an atmosphere full of like-minded fitness-lovers. But if exercise becomes a chore, and you’re forcing yourself to do huge amounts of it, this is never good. It’s likely that at some stage you’ll give up, or you’ll spend so much time feeling miserable that it’s negatively impacting your life. By finding something you enjoy, or including a variety of exercise in your lifestyle, you might find it easier. I think it’s also important to realise that your body is much more than a machine. If your body is trying to tell you something, listen to it. I know this can be hard – for example I hate not being able to take part in activities due to an injury, but I’ve learnt that by listening to your body you’ll increase the rate at which your body is recovering.
I don’t feel that I can give any advice on finding balance, because I believe that balance is different for everyone, and I’m constantly striving to find my own balance. I do however think that the turning point is accepting that you are only human, you can’t be ‘perfect’ all of the time, becoming able to view things in the ‘big picture’ and learning to move on. Finding balance is a journey, not something that can be achieved instantly. If you do have that extra spoonful of nut butter, then acknowledge this, and forgive yourself. After all, it’s one day out of many, many others. And you’re not perfect.
I speak in complete honesty when I say that I feel the most balanced that I have ever felt in my life, and I’m learning more about myself and my body all the time. I know that I’m lucky to love fitness and that I enjoy eating healthily. I look forward to exercise, I forgive myself if I visit the peanut butter jar again, and I am much more accepting of myself. After all, I am only human. And I’m not perfect.