The Benefits of Aiming for Healthy Balance Over Perfection
When you enter a fitness setting—be it a gym, a yoga studio, or any other area where people come to exercise—you may notice a common theme. You’ll likely see beginners who are trying to build lasting wellness habits, and at the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll see the intense, extremely fit (looking) individuals. Somewhere in the middle, you will find people who probably teeter between intense fitness phases and not working out at all.
For some reason, part of our human nature seems to be the struggle with balance. We are inclined to become obsessed, whether working out, counting macros and calories, or actively avoiding all these things, which is the opposite of a healthy balance. We have difficulty blending wellness habits with feel-good habits, too.
Why Does a Balanced Lifestyle Matter?
When we can’t balance the things we enjoy with the responsibilities we have, it can lead to a host of issues that leave you feeling really crummy and, in the worst cases, lead to extreme burnout. When people feel too restricted or overworked with their fitness and wellness habits, they face burnout and often end up binge eating and refusing to exercise altogether. Then come feelings of extreme guilt and shame, so they punish themselves by reentering the restrictive phase. Repeat. Forever.
Symptoms of a lack of balance can include:
- feeling out of control
- feelings of guilt and shame
- poor mental health—stress, anxiety, depression, lack of confidence
- difficulty concentrating, leading to under-performing
- negatively affecting our moods, demeanor, and relationships
These symptoms apply to all aspects of your life—work, food, fitness, caring for children, caring for elderly parents, etc. Even those people that seem perfectly disciplined and “healthy” may not be living in a way that makes them happiest. Being unbalanced doesn’t just apply to cycling in and out of fitness and wellness habits. It can also apply to those that are extremely fit due to their restrictive eating and excessive exercising.
We are certainly not trying to say that every person who appears super fit struggles with a healthy balance. Still, it is clear that finding that healthy balance between all factors is the path to happiness and, therefore, optimal wellness. So, why is it so difficult?
Why Can’t We Find a Healthy Balance?
There are some influencing cultural factors at play that impact our daily lives. According to Psychology Today, our high-speed, high-pressure, high-stress world is partially to blame for the lack of healthy balance. Even children are struggling to find an equilibrium, which is incredibly sad for humans as a whole.
We live in a culture that praises working till you break, but you’re weak if you break. So, we take on too many obligations, and soon we’ve filled every waking minute with “stuff” to do. This leads to those symptoms listed above and more. Ultimately, we’re tired and miserable.
Some people might even recognize the issue. Yet, they don’t know how to achieve a balanced lifestyle and end up searching the web. A search, mind you, that yields 1,660,000,000 results. So, how do we do it? How do we achieve this allusive balanced lifestyle? It starts with recognizing the balance in finding balance – sort of an Inception of a balanced lifestyle.
How to Create a Balanced Lifestyle
First, recognize that a healthy balance in life is an imperfect balancing act in and of itself. It is a continual journey that we must work on every day. Nothing is going to just click and then suddenly you have healthy balance every single day. Because the truth of it is, we still live in a world where even the happiest people likely take on too many obligations.
It’s normal to have days where you fell a little too hard into old obsessive habits. That is part of the balance over your life landscape. Some days you will lean too hard into your enjoyable, self-care habits. However, if it all evens out in the end, then you’re on the right path.
If you are ready to stop feeling guilty about the foods you eat (or don’t eat), stop using exercising to punish yourself, and start making a balanced lifestyle a priority, consider these first steps.
Steps to Find Balance
Take time to meditate.
Meditation is something you nearly always hear experts mention when they talk about wellness and a healthy balance, and there’s a reason for that. Meditation has serious mental and physical wellness benefits, and it’s free and easy to get started. The only tricky thing about meditation is a beginner’s anxiety and actually getting started. For one week, dedicate five to ten minutes a day for simple meditation and watch your life begin to change. You will feel happier, and you will begin to feel like a healthy balance is within reach.
Find an exercise program you enjoy.
Exercise is not a punishment. It’s essential for your wellness and a balanced lifestyle, but it is not a punishment for eating “bad” or not getting your steps in that day. If you have not already found an exercise program you enjoy, start trying new things. Consider yoga, any other fitness class, walking, running, weightlifting, or a sport. Don’t stop until you find something you genuinely enjoy doing and make that a part of your life.
Say no when you want to say no.
Healthy boundaries are a critical piece of the wellness puzzle. You need to learn to stand up for yourself and say no when you want to say no. You are not obligated to over-extend yourself in the name of politeness. Make this phase of your life about committing when you want to commit and politely declining when it does not suit your schedule, wants, or needs.
Get clear about your priorities.
What genuinely matters to you? Your wellness, your family, and hopefully, a balanced lifestyle? When you get clear about your priorities, it is much easier to set those healthy boundaries and move one step closer to a balanced lifestyle.
Spend time with your loved ones, including yourself.
Depending on your personality, you might need to set a schedule for yourself. Be sure to include adequate quality time with loved ones, and that includes time away from others! We need time to be alone with our thoughts, recharge, and reconnect. Hint: combine meditating with your alone time!
Finally, remember, you will be actively trying to maintain a balanced lifestyle for the rest of your life. It doesn’t come naturally to humans, so we must continuously work on it. It’s also vital to our wellness that we give ourselves grace. Another part of our human nature is our imperfections. We won’t get it right every day, but it’s essential to be patient and not get down about our “failure.” It is only a failure if you quit trying.
You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to be happy, and an essential piece to happiness is finding a healthy balance of responsibilities and pleasures in life. In your work, in your wellness efforts, and in your diet, you deserve to live a life free from guilt and shame. Plus, you deserve to prioritize things that make you genuinely happy! Take care of yourself!