Everybody says balance is good for you. Every article tells you to exercise, eat, and sleep a certain amount that is not too little but not too much. That is the problem. “Everybody says.” It is time that you say it. As a society, we are used to following prescriptions in life–from school rules, to doctor’s prescriptions, to recipes. But once in a while, we need to stop following what others say and write our own prescription. We need to listen to ourselves. When it comes to balance, we need to find the right formula that works for us.
Adults have a lot of competing pressures. We want to be perfect at everything. We want to do what all those articles tell us. The articles tend to give great advice. But we should give ourselves a reality check when we adopt that advice. Will it be a healthy life habit that we will be able to maintain? Or will it throw our other habits out of balance just to keep up with the new one?
I recommend that you adopt a new habit gradually. Make sure that it fits neatly within your life so that it does not disturb established desirable habits. For example, if you are going to sign up for yoga classes, don’t do it instead of a healthy breakfast or lunch. And don’t take more classes in the first week than the amount you could truly take on a realistic schedule.
Many people think that if they exercise extra, they can eat extra junk. That does not help with keeping your life in balance. Instead, replenish your body with healthy nutrients, and don’t over-exercise. Another common mistake is to start to eat too much of one healthy food, and leave out many of the other healthy eating habits as well. As with exercise, add a healthy food habit gradually and within a realistic schedule/habit that you can maintain.
For children and young adults, finding the right balance is even more difficult than for those of us who have been around for awhile. Young people’s body changes daily. Just when they figure out how much they should eat, they grow and they need some more. On top of that, almost everything is a new experience. It is very tough not to maintain consistent habits and keep life in balance when a young person is constantly trying new things.
Here are some suggestions:
The best way to determine your own balance is to listen to your body. Make a HeartMark, take a deep breath, and take time to listen. Do not judge what you’re feeling. You have a right to feel what you feel. Your job is to take care of yourself using positive, healthy choices. Visualize in advance the options to try them on mentally to know if they will make you feel good. You will find your own solutions and your own balance.
If you are still growing, or if you live with someone who is still growing, remember that your body is allowed to change. Don’t panic with each additional pound for example. Don’t panic if you are hungry when you think you shouldn’t be. Allow your body to feel what it feels and listen to it. If you are hungry then that’s exactly what you should be feeling. Give your body solutions that are healthy. For every pain, craving, or impulse, there is a healthy choice that will work. Your job is to find it. Make a HeartMark, breathe, and think before you act.
If you have stopped growing, remember that your body still experiences monthly cycles. It is allowed to be consistently inconsistent. It is allowed to be ridiculously hungrier for two weeks (or more), and less hungry for two weeks. Two weeks is not an exact number. If you listen to the body and feed the hunger, (and swallow omega 3’s,) you will actually minimize the dramatic monthly fluctuations. Remember, fluctuations are normal. At the end of a cycle, if you don’t panic, you will naturally return to what you think is your “normal”—for that part of the cycle.
When you feel that you are overdoing something and that you cannot stop but you wish to, try to switch to something else. This works really well when it comes to eating. If you cannot stop eating chips, switch to another snack. (Carrots, or any other option.) Pay attention to why you might be drawn to what you’re overdoing. Substitute it with something that matches your goals, that will satisfy you just the same. Look for a healthier option. I did a study in UC Berkeley 16 years ago that proved that it really works to substitute a habit with another that matches the most salient qualities about the habit, which change for each individual. If you think about what really drives you and find a healthy equivalent, you will remain satisfied. You will not feel deprived. It really works.
Love your body. Love yourself. Adopt new habits without guilt, without judgment, and without stress.
Any new good habit is tough to adopt. It takes time. You are allowed to miss days. You are allowed to “cheat.”
It is your body.
You make choices. Even if you choose to cheat, it is your choice to cheat. And it’s a great choice.
Visualize the cheating to decide how much you can get away with in advance. Visualize the amount that you are comfortable with that will keep you guilt free. Visualize when you will stop. Visualize how you will feel when you are done.
New habits are tough to adopt. People tend to overdo. Recognize that as part of the process and again, continue guilt-free.
The only prescription is the one you write for yourself. If you receive advice, consider it, but stay open- minded. Labels, articles, and blogs need to be considered under the context that they were written. They may have partial truths that you can adopt. Nothing is 100% accurate. People tend to get handed down information whose original source is often outdated. It’s rare that people recognize that they are passing on outdated material. People often gain new insights based on accepted beliefs. That’s why it takes so many years to change information.
Keeping a written log helps recognize cause and effect connections between your habits and cravings that follow. HeartMark Health recognizes Craving Chain Reactions, called CCR’s, in which one habit or food item leads to craving another. When you become mindful of your habits, such as by writing them down or using the HeartMark, you can identify these CCR’s and redirect them to a balanced lifestyle.
Balance your acids with your bases, your spicy with your sweet, your smooth with your texture, and so on. Balance your extrovert time with your introvert time. Balance party time with rest.
True balance is not somewhere 50:50. It is a personal place that is true for you. If you don’t feel like going out, then that’s what you need to do. Do it guilt free. If you stress that you need to clean up and don’t do it, then that’s okay. (As long as you clean up at some point!) If you don’t feel like studying, that’s okay. Don’t panic. Your body is saying something else to you. If you listen, you will end up doing well. You will study later. You will do well where you belong. (I’m an overachiever. This is something overachievers need to say for balance.)
Follow talilehavi on Twitter to hear frequent suggestions for life habits, products that are practical and healthy, and inspiring messages. HeartMark Health is good for your heart!
Tali Lehavi Hamer has published several books on finding a balance nutritionally and psychologically. The HeartMark Method to Nutrition teaches people how to condition themselves to like healthy food, to listen to their own hunger, and how to decide their own quantities based on their body’s cues and new food groupings. The Heart Mandala series exercise the two brain hemispheres to find balance. Additionally, Lehavi Hamer keeps a blog in which her two brain hemispheres converse and assert themselves because both want mutual respect.