If you’ve been reading my blog for the past several posts, you might notice that my post on January 19 staying that I will never do the Whole 30 while traveling again and my post on January 12 stating that making healthy decisions is difficult, but they do get easier are somewhat contradictory. Let me explain why both of these statements are still true for me.
If you’re a marathon traveler like I am, it’s helpful to know when a meal will make you feel energized or when it will make you crash. Making healthier decisions while traveling was, in fact, easier this time compared to previous times that I’ve traveled. While dining at a Brazilian restaurant, I wasn’t afraid to ask for vegetables instead of rice with a meal. And, as you can imagine, after consuming that meal, I felt pleasantly full, my energy levels stayed even, and I didn’t sugar crash.
Once you are armed with the knowledge of which foods energize you and which make you crash, you can consciously decide when it is worth it to deviate from your chosen lifestyle. I find that the main utility in programs like the Whole 30 and the Primal Challenge is that you finally learn how to really listen to your body. You can pinpoint how specific foods make you feel, and once you associate how bad some of those foods make you feel, it makes it much, much easier to avoid eating them regularly.
For me, knowing how foods affect me is the first step in achieving balance. But what is balance? Balance is making healthy decisions most of the time but not always. Balance is choosing to eat an everything bagel with cream cheese and lox while traveling in New York City, but then eating a meal of fish and vegetables for dinner because taking a detour from your healthy lifestyle for one fantastic meal while traveling has not derailed you in perpetuity. Balance is knowing when a splurge is worth it (hint: if it’s junk food that’s constantly around, it’s probably not worth it). Balance is refusing to feel guilty for the rare splurge because it’s just wasted energy. Most importantly, balance is what you’re aiming for all along. It’s that comfortable spot between truly feeling like you live a healthy lifestyle and knowing when to make choices outside of your usual wellness paradigm.
The Whole 30 challenge and all of the social media resources associated with it have been immensely helpful in helping me to focus on my well-being. Finding balance requires mindfulness and conscious decisions every day. To find balance, you have to look at the whole picture over the course of a week, a month, a year, or even a lifetime. I know a lot of people scoff at 30 day or 3-week challenges, but I find that they really do help me to re-center in a way that I can’t usually do on my own. I find that when I tell myself that something is okay “in moderation,” that something becomes a daily occurrence, and my well-being suffers for it. So, my final thought on what defines balance is truly distinguishing between moderation and excess.
How do you define balance?