I’m still reflecting over the past whirl wind of a year and there is one lesson that keeps coming to mind. It’s about that balance thing that everyone talks about. A part of the reason why I began the journey that lead me to becoming a Nutrition Coach was because I was looking for more of that elusive “balance” in my life. I could no longer go every day to a job and field that not only took more than a third of my life every week to accomplish, but also wasn’t anything that I was excited about. I didn’t want to have my kids continue to grow up with a parent who was gone for 11 of their 14 awake hours every weekday and who was too exhausted and stressed out on the weekends to be of any use to them. If only I could find a better balance, then it would all be ok, right?
I’ve come to learn that this “balance” thing that is sold to us via social media, “me time” memes, and time management articles doesn’t exist. It’s a myth, a unicorn that some people like to pretend that they have. This whole illusion of the mom-who-has-it-all is so damaging; it sucks the joy right out of our lives. We are bombarded with this idea that we should and could be that pinterest crafting mom, who is also an E-Suite employee with a perfectly cleaned and organized house. Oh and you also run literal marathons on the weekend, while taking fun, yet educational trips with your kids and accomplishing every to-do task on the list, so that you have enough time for that luxurious massage and bubble bath on Sunday night. After all, you should recharge so that you can crush the upcoming week, right? If you were balanced, then this could be you!
The illusion of balance drives us to stress, to drink, to wonder “Why am I broken? Why am I the only one who can’t do this right?”
My study of nutrition over the past year has put a spot light on how ridiculous this premise is. This whole balance thing is also sold by the food and dieting industry, under the brand “All Things in Moderation.” But once you start to learn about how certain things that we disguise as food affect the human body, you realize that this moderation thing just isn’t true. All things in moderation is something that is said by people trying too sell you on the things that are NOT good for you. (I’m looking at you diet soda…)
On the flip side of All Things in Moderation, there is the “do-this-every-day-to-be-healthy” crowd, which also echoes the mom-who-has-it-all illusion. The laundry list of superfoods and spices that you need to have in your diet to be healthy is a mile long. Trying to follow this list religiously will eventually induce similar stresses as trying to be the perfect, “balanced,” parent described above.
So what is the actual solution to all of this? Well, when it comes to food and nutrition, I know that there isn’t balance day to day. There isn’t enough time to do every single healthy thing that you can possibly do in a day. The amount of time, resources, and energy to craft a perfectly balanced diet for 24 hours, and for every 24 hours for the rest of your life just doesn’t exist. You can get a lot closer to that balance over the course of a week. You get ever closer of you remain consistent over a month.
Our diets are meant to ebb and flow, with foods rotating into and out of them as they came available in nature. This is why in the summer you prefer to eat lighter foods and in the winter we love a hearty stew. Great nutrition is something that you give your body over the course of a year, not necessarily in a day. Now that doesn’t mean that there wont be some days where you have an abundance of superfoods, but it won’t be every day and that’s ok. The balance occurs over the course of a year.
In addition to this, when it comes to nutrition it is important that we avoid the things that don’t help out health. It’s not all things in moderation, there are certainly foods that we eat that damage our health and that we should not eat at all. It can be terrifying to acknowledge that no, you really shouldn’t ever have a diet soda again. Realizing this can bring a sense of loss and a sense of identity crisis.
But ultimately, there is freedom in no longer being a slave to this or that food or addiction. Happiness means letting go of the things that do not serve you. And this remains true when it comes to foods that we should not eat or those lifestyle choices that are ultimately toxic to our health.
It’s time for me to let go of this idea that “if I only balanced things better, my life would be better.” What will make my life better is to let go of the activities that are equivalent to the diet sodas in my life, to start the activities that are equivalent to superfoods, and to know that these superfood activities do not all have to be accomplished in one day. If we are having a good amount of those superfood activities over a week or month, then we are on the right track.
It turns out that while I started last year trying to obtain the balance illusion, I found something much better. Instead of this balance, I’ve learned what “junk foods” I need to stop spending my time on. I realized that it wasn’t so much the time that I was putting into the old job that was the issue, it was that for me, the old job is like some form of nutritionally deficient microwave dinner. It keeps you alive but slowly destroys your body, your health, and your happiness. By taking the steps to become a Nutrition Coach, I’m switching out these microwave dinners for whole foods which restores the life destroyed by a poor diet.
And the added bonus is, it tastes delicious.