Balance sounds simple enough.
Heck I balance on one foot while doing a single leg deadlift just fine. Or how about balancing your coffee as you open a door? Warrior 2 pose anyone?
Yet when it comes to obtaining balance in life between work, family, health goals and any of the other things that make up our crazy schedules, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
I know how it feels to be buried in stress. I started my fitness journey while working in Corporate America (read my story here) and have figured out, because I had to, that you really can change your body, your habits and your lifestyle, without losing everything else.
Yes, it can be difficult. But it can be done.
Here are 8 ways to find AND keep balance from someone who walks her talk. I hope at least one will help you. Integrate a few into your life, and before you know it, you will be better at balance than a tight ropewalker.
1 KISS. The best advice for finding balance is not to become overwhelmed in the first place. It’s an oldie but a goodie: Keep it Simple Silly (ok so that is my less insulting version). If your nutrition plan sounds like this: “I am practicing intermittent fasting, carb cycling, while eating Gluten Free and consuming 4.2 ounces of protein every 2.7 hours”, you may be making things harder than necessary.
There are a lot of different diets and methods and rules out there for getting healthy or in the best shape of your life, but that doesn’t mean they are all right for you. Just like every body is different, so is everyone’s schedule, eating habits, likes and dislikes. It is important to find what works for you and do it consistently over time: Because, to be real, effort and consistency are the keys to success- not finding the world’s best diet. (Besides, the easier it is for you to balance healthy eating with your lifestyle, the better the chances of you sticking with it for long enough to see results)
So relax, focus on eating real, whole, minimally processed foods until satisfied and implement tricks or stricter measures only as your goals dictate. Personally, I have tried a ketogenic diet, low carb, low fat, high protein, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, intermittent fasting and carb cycling diets and the changes in my physique were minimal. What was the common denominator? I made healthful food decisions on a daily basis. Remember, it’s not as much about the rules as it is about the habits.
2 Everything in moderation. Living by this one simple rule will make all others insignificant. No need to stress about a cheat meal or cheat day if you just enjoy certain indulgences in moderation. If you aren’t into calorie counting or weighing and portioning out food just consume healthy foods in moderation. If you still want to have a social life and hang out with friends, have some wine (you guessed it) in moderation.
It’s virtually impossible (and not always healthy) to follow a diet perfectly to plan for every day of your life, so don’t set yourself up for failure. Which is better: 100% compliance to a diet for 30 days or 80% compliance to healthy eating for a year? I would bet the latter would yield better results. And would keep you more sane (err balanced).
3 Say ‘Hell yes’ or No. It’s a fact that if your life is really packed you will never be able to achieve balance and accomplish it all. It just won’t happen. Learn to say no to anything that doesn’t make you want to say ‘Hell yes!’ You can’t make everyone happy or commit to every invite, and trying to do it all will only leave one person unhappy and drained- YOU! Spend your time doing things that excite and fulfill you and cut the rest of it out. You will be happier and more calm, and your loved ones will appreciate a more relaxed and joyful you.
4 Let me check my calendar. Calendars aren’t just for birthdays and dentist appointments anymore. Most of us have a calendar at our fingertips now (thanks smartphone), so you should use it.
When I was training for competitions, working an 8 to 5, fitness modeling, dieting, etc etc, the calendar kept me on track and kept me out of overwhelm city. Put your workouts in your calendar, block off an hour or two for prepping food on Sunday, schedule ‘me time’ or times to call so and so, work hours, heck, you can even schedule your meals if you want to get real organized.
For one, you are more likely to stick to your sweat session if a nifty reminder pops up when you were supposed to be working out. And even better, you will still be seen as a reliable person no matter how busy you get, and have time to balance everything you want, because you know what your week looks like at all times.
It might feel obsessive and silly at first, but take it from me: I never miss an appointment, an audition, a workout, a hike with a friend or a phone call when I said I would, because I manage my schedule and never commit to more than I can.
5 Don’t blame the cookies. Food is a noun. Cookies, cupcakes and chips are inanimate, perishable things that do not compel you, control you, tempt you or make you. Stop giving your power away to food that makes you go ‘yuuummm’. The more you idolize it and focus on your inability to eat it, the harder you make this healthy lifestyle you awesomely chose for yourself.
Try this: Next time you find yourself at a bakery and see that red velvet cupcake you long for, change your self talk from “I wish I could have one, but I can’t” to “I could eat one if I want to, but I choose not to, I’d rather be healthy”. Take back the power, and next time you actually decide to get one, it won’t be a failure to feel guilty about, just a choice you can enjoy.
6 Prioritize and be REAL about it. Do you spend an hour or more on Facebook or Instagram? I’ll bet you do. 10 minutes procrastinating or surfing the web for every 20 minutes of actual work? Take an honest look at your schedule and trim the fat (pun intended) before uttering ‘I’m too busy’.
We are all so busy. We can list one hundred things we have to do every week and after this week, next week will be better. (Promise!) Except it never is. The perfect time to lose weight or eat healthier will never come. Now is the perfect time. Busy is not an excuse. Everything you have on your plate is there because you said ‘yes’ to it in some way at some point.
Try this: Wake up in the morning and immediately write a page of everything on your mind: chores to run, things to do today, things you have been putting off, etc. Whatever comes to mind is fine. Then put it away and get up and start your day. You will be amazed that just getting it out on paper will help clear your head and allow you to focus on a few priorities for the day. Pick 3 from your journal: 1) something time sensitive (it was due, like, last year), 2) something small and easy to complete (Yay You!), but it’s been on your list for a while, and 3) something big (will take the most effort), and DO THEM. No excuses.
7 Don’t forget to have fun. Hi, my name is Courtney and I’m a dietaholic. I’ve been there, and maybe you have too: where competition plans or impending wedding or beach plans has turned you into a food-measuring-Tupperware-carrying-antisocial-gym rat. Dedication is great. Heck ‘obsessed’ is what lazy people call the dedicated, right?
Sort of. Following your plan and sticking to your goals is commendable. Becoming a hermit and losing relationships because you can’t do anything but eat, sleep and train? Not so much…besides, what’s the point of looking so great if you don’t have any fun.
Try this: Plan game nights with friends and offer to host so you can stock the party with healthy munchies, get creative and schedule dates with your significant other that don’t center around food (dance lessons, paint ball, hikes or beach days, anyone?) and head to happy hour every once in a while (it’s not a crime to order sparking water with lime-no one will know!). Make the effort to keep the balance with fitness and life and people you care about won’t care about how dedicated you are every other day.
8 Keep things in perspective. Not much in life requires a one word answer or simple solution. But that doesn’t mean everything should overwhelm you and bring your world to a halt either. Everyone is dealing with something (difficult boss, kids, loss, new job, new relationship, no money, no car, no time) and you have to do whatever it takes to deal with it. Some things require more attention and some less, but the secret to keeping the peace (and balance) in your world is to keep things in perspective.
Will this thing matter in a month, a year, 5 years? If nay, then move on. Acknowledge and thank your subconscious for stressing about it, and then refocus on something more positive or productive. If by chance this stressor is a big deal, then let it affect you, feel it, sit with it for a bit. Find a solution or best course of action to deal with this challenge, and don’t just bury it. Take it personally enough to inspire action but not so personally it leaves you stuck in your head and slumped on the floor in defeat.
Remember, nothing makes you stressed/angry/sad/unmotivated unless you give it permission to.
Sound off! Let me know in the comments what you struggle with in finding balance and how you overcome the challenge…Till next time XOX