Why I Promote Balance
When I started this blog, I was devoted to the concept of “moderation.” I believed all foods were created equal as long as they were consumed in moderation. This also applied to exercise and sacrificing sleep for night life, to vegging out all day on the couch and eating out versus eating in. But what I didn’t- and couldn’t- realize at the time, was that moderation felt restrictive. Who judged what was considered to be a moderate version? Not me- I sure as heck didn’t know. Was the FDA in charge? After all, they were the ones who on every single label had control over how much we were “supposed” to consume. Was this the definition of moderation?
Yet I couldn’t see my own confusion pertaining to this definition because I was trying so hard to be anything other than restrictive. I didn’t want to see myself anymore as a girl with an eating disorder. I didn’t want to be the girl that obsessively measured her food and kept her calories counted on three different apps across her iPhone just to make sure they were all on track. I didn’t want to be the girl that praised herself for working out for 2 hours one day and shamed herself for only working out 1 hour the next. I wanted to make progress, and because I was so absorbed in this goal, I didn’t see that I was covering up the issues at hand.
Now, don’t get me wrong- the fact that I was acknowledging a problem and taking what I thought were steps to correct it is a huge accomplishment in of itself. And who knows? Without this interim period, I may never have progressed to where I am today. But to get here, I had to acknowledge that moderation is just another restrictive term with no individuality taken into consideration. I had to find my way to balance, a term that- at least in my mind- truly calls for the individual to determine what works best for them.
When we think about balance, oftentimes the image of a scale comes to mind. The goal with this scale is to load enough onto both sides to ensure the platforms are always hanging at the same level. However, this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, we overthink or we overact and our left platform dips a bit deeper than our right. Sometimes our right sinks below, maybe if we haven’t spent enough time with friends or if we haven’t allowed ourselves to eat that piece of chocolate we have been craving for the past three days. What is key to this analogy is that YOU make up the body of the scale. You are the one holding these platforms, which on one side contain your physical health and on the other your mental health. These cannot exist without each other and balance takes both of these and your PERSONAL relationship into consideration. No two scales are equal, I guess you could say.
However, these scales are not a measure of you. They are not here to scare you. Rather, they are here to guide you, to remind you to take a minute and think about why the right might be slightly higher than the left right now. What is it that you need to mentally feel your best. Maybe it is that piece of chocolate and hopefully if it is, you can give yourself permission to enjoy it to the fullest extent.
When I discovered balance, I began to view my actions differently. Nobody, no organization, no person, could tell me “as long as you do this or do that you’ll be okay.” Instead, I began to acknowledge that my body knew what was best for itself. Yes, of course doctors are a whole other story. But sometimes, oftentimes, it is best for us to listen and to acknowledge what is going on inside of us.
But how did I find this balance? How did I take a step away from the noise of calorie listings and magazine covers that told me to eat xyz to be skinny or ripped or grow a big butt? How did I silence the sound of my peers saying so and so was so thin she shouldn’t have posted a picture on Instagram?
I began to focus on myself. Selfish, I know. Say what you will, but being selfish is one of the most important things we can do. It has its time and place, but at the end of the day, if you aren’t caring for yourself, you can’t care for others.
I began writing down what I loved about myself. What I loved to eat. What I told myself I loved to eat but in reality actually despised. I began experimenting with various foods, figuring out what were things I really craved and felt satisfied with. What textures, consistencies, flavors stood out to me. What workouts motivated me the most and which were I performing simply because I had been told they burned the most calories. What were my favorite times of the day to be outside and be active and when did I feel like I needed to be alone and have me time.
I assessed everything, and in doing so I began to learn what went on my scales. I began to see what the most important factors of my mental and physical health were and what my body needed to eventually find its way back to balance.
This period is still continuing. Every day I make note of something I tried that I did and didn’t like. I no longer force myself through workouts if I end up hating them mid way. Instead, I change what I am doing or if I am simply unmotivated, I may stop altogether. I don’t force myself to eat a huge salad that I ordered if it is making me feel sick. I don’t force myself to stay out late if I would rather be in bed, sound asleep.
Every day, my scales’ needs change. Every day, what is considered to be “balance” is altered. All I can do, and all we can do for each of our own selves, is trust the process and trust that our bodies know what we want. You just have to listen a little more carefully to hear its voice and to help it speak up.
Today, balance for me is eating ice cream and savoring every single bite even though I know my stomach is going to feel like absolute crap afterwards. Balance is waking up at five am to have a great sweat session at the gym. Balance means going to bed at 9 and spending my weekends relaxing, winding down, and indulging in some hours of self care. Balance is talking to my parents every day on the phone, singing old Taylor Swift songs at the top of my lungs in the car, and reading a few pages of my current book before closing my eyes and rolling over to sleep. But in a month, this may be completely different. And that’s the beauty of balance: there are a million different combinations that will make those little scales align.