Monday, July 13, 2009

Balancing Acts

Why is balance so hard? I have always struggled with having finding and keeping balance in my life – I feel like it can be a rollercoaster that doesn't let you off! Doing those things

that I need to do like cleaning and running errands seem to always be in competition with the things I love to do like reading and spending time with friends. Eating well, being active and having your spiritual and emotional needs met can lose their sense of urgency when things or events around you start to demand more

and more of your attention. Balance is key to a person's overall health and this past week it has become clear to me more than ever! Here are a few areas where I feel I am always playing duck, duck, goose in my own life:

1) Sleep

I need sleep. And when I don't get it, things begin to unravel at the seams. I forget words and my life becomes a streaming game of charades, I forgo other healthy habits like drinking water because I am drinking jet-fueled espresso drinks, and I get crabby. Life is never good, for anyone when I am crabby. In my early 20's (not going to age myself here) I grappled with mornings. A few taps on the snooze button and my whole morning would domino: forgetting important papers, missing breakfast and running late to work. I thought that I simply needed more discipline to get up so I started setting my alarm boot camp style and tried for endless mornings to just bully myself out of bed. Didn't work. I blamed my upbringing, I blamed my alarm clock, I blamed my metabolism, and I blamed my rowdy cats. Till one day my mother, the beautifully wise woman she is told me that what I needed was discipline to get to bed earlier, not get up earlier. A light bulb went on and I tried it: Success!! Here are some of my tips to keep you’re trip to dream land delish!

  • Don’t drink alcohol before bed
  • Don’t drink excess water before bed
  • Set a sleep/wake routine and stick to it
  • Don't work out before hitting the hay and even up to 3 hours before bed
  • Don’t watch TV, eat or do other things in bed. Bed is for sleep and one other entertaining nighttime activity.

For more information click here!

2) Eating simple, eating healthy

When I talk about things unraveling, one of the first to go when I am lacking balance is my eating habits. When I am under stress I tend to eat through it and often times I find that I am not eating healthy when eating under stress. Junk food, fast food, an entire package of chocolate 100 calorie cakes …all of these are danger zones for me and can send my healthy eating habits out the window. Having good healthy food in the house and not keeping junk around is the best place to start. Writing out your meals and sticking to that can reduce grazing and stress eating. Know how you feel, and ask yourself why you are eating what you are. By keeping tabs on your own triggers (tired, stressed, sad, boy probs) can reduce the chances of eating for the wrong reasons. After all many these behaviors are intertwined: if I am tired I tend to over eat, eating junk food will send me on a sugar high and then a caloric crash landing which can bum me out, so I have a cookie or 3. Vicious cycle!


  • Plan out your meals: write out a weekly menu and shop only for that, sticking to it!
  • Give your self a break: if you have a bad eating day or two, just remember every second is a chance to get back on track
  • Hungry? Drink a glass of water and wait 20 min to eat what your craving
  • There will always be food. You don’t have to have X, Y or Z today, that cake, bar or muffin will be there tomorrow
  • Don’t substitute a craving: eating a little of what you want instead of a lot of what you don’t. A small square of dark chocolate is better than 3 100-calorie packs of Oreos.

3) Hobbies

This has always been a tricky one for me. Having a hobby or two is a great outlet to be creative, reduce stress and do something you love!! But if you get too many irons in the fire, it can be a hot mess!! You don’t want to commit your precious free time to hobbies, committees and leading groups that will overwhelm you with work or leave hoards of unfinished projects that clutter your house and your head. Pick a few things that are important to you and that you really value doing and do those. Having more than 3 hobbies can really take a toll on a person. Knitting, creative writing and working as a volunteer more than fill my free time and they fulfill more than one need also! The hobbies you chose should be based on your values. (if you haven’t clearly defined your values I suggest making a list of them, and this book is an excellent source for walking you through that.) With my hobbies, I am helping other people, doing something I love and am good at and creating things which helps me feel like an artist of sorts…all things that I value.


  • Create a sense of urgency around your hobbies and other activities you love. Don’t let calendars, schedules and errands rob you of doing the things you enjoy!
  • Pick 2-3 things you really love and things that help create balance and focus on those, better to do a few things well than many things poorly
  • Action precedes motivation – sometimes you have to act on something before you feel truly motivated! Give it a shot, go for a run, pick up that dusty book or unfinished sweater and start enjoying your life!

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