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Balance is a simple concept but difficult to develop in real life. There’s always something getting in the way of plans to exercise and eat right. However, part of the difficulty may be in our definition of what balance means. Here are some thoughts on redefining balance, as well as developing and maintaining it.
First, we need to realize that our whole being, our mind, body and soul, needs nourishment. Our flesh and blood need air, food and water, and our spirit needs nourishment, too. Sometimes when we’re focusing on the former, we forget the latter.
Exercise can be a form of enrichment for the soul, as we learn to listen to our body and give it what it needs and avoid what it doesn’t. For instance, you might think you need french fries, and occasionally you might, but your body will tell you whether it feels good or not. Just as exercise needs a recovery period to build muscle, your soul and spirit need rejuvenation periods as well.
If you’re so busy doing everything you’re “supposed” to do that you don’t get enough sleep or relaxation -- “me time” -- then you’ll be just as burned out.
Like night follows day, we need rejuvenation following activity. This world encourages working and excelling while overlooking being, relaxing and recovering. But we can’t have one without the other. Even too much exercise is unhealthy. The point of balance is having both activity (exercise, eating healthy foods) and relaxation (down time, occasional comfort foods). Moderation is key. Somewhere in our rush to be all that we can be, we forgot that it’s not just bigger, better, faster. The rhythm of life demands slow as well as fast.
So what’s the answer? I say it’s in listening. Listen to what others suggest, yes, but also do what our body is telling us. Do we feel good after eating a huge meal, or are we lethargic? Does exercise make us feel better? If not, let’s try another. Maybe yoga or tai chi is more your thing than Zumba. As long as you’re moving your body and strengthening muscles, you’re moving in the right direction. If it makes you feel good, do it. If not, try something else. Your body is a well-built machine that will let you know what it needs, if only you listen to the signals it’s sending.
If you are recovering from addiction, your ability to listen to your body has been compromised and will need readjustment. It will take awhile before you feel like yourself again, but eating right and exercising can help in the healing process. Your body was subjected to chemical stimulation or depression, so your normal rhythms were masked.
You need to relearn how to feel what you’re feeling and respond to it. Make exercise part of your routine. Exercise releases endorphins that elevate your mood. If you can exercise outside, all the better as you flood your body with healing vitamin D. Find a friend and go for a walk; socialize while working out. You will be healing your body and your spirit. Slowly, surely, you can get better and stay sober. Replace bad habits with good ones that will make you stronger, physically and emotionally.
Caring for yourself and finding balance are a daily pursuit based on your lifestyle, family and friends, and your definition of what balance means to you. Every day you decide what you’re going to do to be healthy, and every day you weigh those choices against your schedule, things that come up unexpectedly, and the importance of knowing what can control and what you can’t. You can’t control a work meeting that runs late, but you control whether you eat that doughnut. Maybe a margarita with friends after work is important, because you’re supporting each other and building relationships. But maybe it’s a weekly or monthly activity, not a daily one. Going home and reading a good book or dancing around your living room with the kids is important, too.
You need all these things in your life, but only you can decide when and how much. Balance is elusive but not impossible. It’s determined by you as you choose each day how you spend your time. Do what’s “good for you” and what’s good for you. Only you can determine which is which.
Author: Sheila Olson (www.fitsheila.com)