When you think of a balanced lifestyle, what comes to mind? A balanced lifestyle is multifaceted, there are different areas of our lives we may be trying to balance effectively, and it will be different for each person. If we are thinking in terms of balance scale: too much on one side and the balance is off, too much on the other side, again the balance is off.
For me, a lifestyle of balance is one where I schedule and prioritize exercise, but not so much focus on exercise that it is obsessive. I enjoy working out, but if my workout schedule has to change due to life, I am able to be flexible. Also, in regards to working out, balance means working out with intensity, while also taking rest days, or including complementary workouts, such as yoga to let your body recover.
Another area of our lifestyle is nutrition! Following an eating regime too obsessively and it can turn into a prison. Anything to an extreme can be unhealthy and also lacks balance. For me, balance in nutrition is eating healthy most of the time, say 80% of the time, and allowing room and flexibility for going out to eat, eating indulgent treats here and there, say 20% of the time. I follow an eating regime with vegetables, fruits, smart carbs, lean proteins, and healthy fats most of the week, and I am also flexible for the times I go out to eat with friends and would like to have ice cream or a cinnamon roll. It is okay and even beneficial to eat something less than healthy now and then. Balance in our nutrition also involves a balanced diet of each food group i.e. vegetables, fruits, smart carbs, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Our body needs all of the above. Eliminating entire food groups is not necessary or beneficial.
Work is another part of our lifestyle to consider. The reason I say this is because what matters most in life is the relationships around us, with our family and friends. Work is important in our lives because we were made to work, and work gives us some purpose in life, but working being our sole priority takes away from relationships. Being intentional about balancing how much time you spend working, with how much time you spend with those important to you is a good mindset to have. We live in a world that is focused on the hustle and grind, but is that being productive in light of eternity?
If we think about fitness goals in our lives, we may not be looking at them from a balanced, maintainable viewpoint. Often times we go after goals in a sprint fashion, with all-out efforts. We can fail to look at is what happens after reaching goals. Some get so focused on the result of that goal, that they forget what it would take to maintain that once they reach it. Maintaining said the goal is actually a lot harder than working toward the goal. Many think of it in terms of reaching the goal, then they can chill out, which isn't the case, the same lifestyle needs to be adhered to maintain, which is why reaching said goal in a sustainable way is beneficial, considering what it would look like to have a balanced lifestyle in the future and what methods to get there would make the most sense to be able to maintain that, looking at the entire journey from a 1000 foot view rather than the one piece, the goal.
Balance is also important with how and what we spend our time doing. It is said that you can tell a person's priorities and what is important to them based on how they spend their time. So how are you spending your time? Is it balanced between activities or do you spend a considerable amount of time on one certain thing? This can also be considered when it comes to social media, are you spending hours scrolling on Instagram and Facebook, versus how much time are you spending being present with what is right in front of you?
Balance is also important in regards to self-care! It is important to balance your life and routine with time to take care of yourself, time to spend refreshing and restoring yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
What about spiritual balance? How much time do we spend with God, getting to know him and be with him, talking with him?
One key to living a balanced life is awareness. Awareness of what you value, and what you believe is most important is a good start. “What is most important, what truly matters?” is a good question to determine the next step in your life, and this can help you live a balanced and purpose-driven, meaningful life. Also, mindfulness of directing your schedule and priorities in your day to day life. Be intentional about how you spend your time, and how you live your life, be intentional about keeping it balanced and putting effort and focus on what truly matters.
Balance is more or less living a lifestyle that is maintainable long term, sustainable, one that you can follow and stick to with some ease, some effort, but not STRIVING. It is one that you can adhere to and follow, when you are busy, and when your life is slow. When it comes to living a healthy maintainable lifestyle, slow and steady wins the race.
Charissa Sutliff is an Online Fitness & Nutrition Development Coach, a Competition Prep Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and holds a B.S. in Kinesiology. She also holds an M.A. in Higher Education Administration. She is enthusiastic about faith, working out, healthy nutrition, meditating, learning, growing and coffee!