Finding a new balance

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It’s been a month of me being back at work full time and what a month it has been! Lots of opportunity for growth, both professionally and personally; lots of moments of ‘aha’ realizing how easy it was for me to fall back into old patterns of emotions and behaviours that affected my healthy habits (and that I had thought I had overcome); lots of places of resistance with my yoga practice (and discovering a blindspot when it comes to my own health); lots of awareness and conscious working on my emotional thinking around myself, my body and my healthy habits to maintain a good standard with my healthy habits without setting myself up for failure due to unrealistic expectations…. I could go on. It’s been a great month, yet also tiring and intense.

Let me share my wins, the expected downfalls and the unexpected one’s (a.k.a. amazing opportunities for growth) when it comes to my healthy habits with you.

My wins:

  • I aimed and successfully managed to maintain my 90% clean eating practices each week for all main meals (for those of you who don’t know me that well yet: I don’t believe in 100% perfection because it is unattainable in the long run – sometimes we just have to be open to what live throws at us; you can read more about this here).
  • I successfully planned my meals in advance and cooked up or part prepared for the planned lunches and dinners on the weekend or on a designated week day evening.
  • I maintained a consistent yoga practice and kept connecting with myself to assess what intensity of practice my body required.
  • I kept my focus on what was doable or not by consistently checking in with myself physically, emotionally and mentally several times a day, usually by centering myself with four to five deep breaths that rooted me in the present and grounded me in my body. This helped me to check in on what I needed: do I need to move a bit (yes, I totally do yoga stretches in my office), is my energy flagging (do I need to grab some water or tea or a healthy snack or even make sure I go to bed earlier tonight?), what are my thoughts doing (am I starting to attack myself in thought when it comes to my eating habits)?
  • I love my new colleagues and the opportunity this job gives me. It’s absolutely amazing how much energy I receive when I think about how much my health coaching and my service to you benefits from this!

The expected downfalls:

Before I started with the new job, I knew that I would have to make compromises occasionally, particularly in the initial period as I was figuring out where my ‘new’ balance was. I knew from previous experience that I may fall back into old patterns that may not be beneficial, but also knew that I needed to allow myself some slack. I knew I could not expect to completely maintain all the healthy habits I have started integrating into my life over the last couple of years completely and radically, particularly with such an extreme change of going into a full time job as a new time commitment from one week to the other! I very consciously made this decision to allow myself this slack, to not set myself up for failure by setting unrealistic expectations… it was a matter of being gentle and compassionate with myself as I can be my own worst enemy in what I expect of myself! I also knew that over time, I can slowly make changes again (it all comes down to baby steps after all – you can read more about it here). So, here are those expected downfalls:

  • Grabbing those highly processed, high in refined sugar, really super unhealthy biscuits at 4pm to get me through the afternoon slump. Baby steps to success: if you are in my Facebook group (you can sign up for access here), you know I have already started addressing this by preparing healthy snacks for the afternoon on the weekends on top of lunches and dinners, too!
  • A certain reliance on caffeine to get going in the morning (I have not had caffeine in months) which also comes down to the fact that they have a proper coffee machine at work. Oh my, I love my coffee 🙂 ! Baby steps to success: next week’s goal is to reduce it down to one cup of coffee per day and the week after will see me going back to fully herbal teas or potentially the occasional matcha latte!
  • Some resistance going up for my yoga practice in the morning due to me not having been up so early in the day in quite a while and because it brought up lots of emotions. The reason why going up so early brought up lots of resistance when it came to my yoga practice is because yoga has the power to really face you with the truth about yourself… and sometimes there are a lot of things we would rather not acknowledge about ourselves. Baby steps to success: I made sure to be with those feelings and emotions and be accepting, loving and non-judgemental about them all. I would not turn from a friend because she is not the epitome of moral and ethical perfection, so why would I turn from myself?
  • Increased tiredness, especially during the initial phase whilst I am still adapting to a new routine. Baby steps to success: I have been trying to make sure I go to bed by 9 pm (I need a lot of sleep and seeing that I go up at 6 am to practice yoga, this is realistic for me), but this was and is often not feasible due to various commitments in the evening I have until June. For now, I am just working on being mindful of this and staying with everything that comes up in my body until I can actively change the situation later on next month. It is super important to focus in a non-judgemental, loving and accepting way on all the emotional, mental and physical effects tiredness has on us, as it can be detrimental for our health and wellbeing. Keep your eyes peeled, I am planning another blog post for next week on the effects of sleep on our eating habits and the way we think about ourselves so that you understand where I am coming from.
  • Lots of negative thoughts about myself (‘I just don’t have any discipline when it comes to sugary foods’, ‘my thighs look fat’, ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I am not lovable’…) that also affected the way and how I ate and the way I interacted with my partner (because of tiredness). Feelings of guilt and shame around my eating behaviour, but also my words and actions towards myself and my partner. Baby steps to success: I am consciously bringing awareness to those thoughts and emotions that evolve and be with them. I know that they are not true, so I am focussing on finding examples that prove the opposite!

The fails a.k.a. unexpected opportunities for growth:

  • Fatigue beyond tiredness causing me to sleep for several hours in the afternoon on weekends and really struggling in the week. I have been struggling with fatigue for several years now. Then it hit me: my iron levels had plummeted again to unsustainable levels. I have been low in iron for several years. I consciously eat vegetarian sources of iron, however, this nor supplementation appears to bring my levels up sustainably. My iron levels are a real blind spot for me as my first thought is always adrenal fatigue when I feel like this: after all, with adrenal fatigue I feel I can blame external circumstances on how I feel rather than having to take responsibility myself. This, of course, is not true, but this is just an example on how our mind can work in working against us. For me, having to acknowledge that my iron has gone so low again, makes me question myself a lot. How can I who is so health conscious fail so miserably when it comes to looking after myself? Baby steps to success: I am currently taking a plant-based iron supplement to see whether this helps me with my fatigue. I have made a note in my diary to consult a doctor or other health therapist to help me get back on track. Sometimes, we just need someone else’s help to move forward. There is no shame in admitting to that!
  • As I was often tired, but wired when I finally got home in the evenings after my after work commitments, my meditation practice suffered greatly because I could just not focus, not even sit still due to tiredness. The reason why this development hit me so unexpectedly was because I felt really comfortable, safe and good in the meditation routine I had built up since the start of the year. Just shows you that safety is an illusion, right?! Baby steps to success: I went back to just sitting physically still for five minutes and observing my thoughts objectively rather than attempting to meditate for longer and actively controlling my mind.

Last month has gone by super quick and it really hit me over the last week. So, yesterday I took some time out consciously to reflect back on how things have been going, where I still need to tweak my approach to healthy habits and how I can actively move forward. I am sharing this with you because it hopefully gives you some inspiration on how to approach the challenges you face yourself, it gives you a small glimpse into how I would work with clients myself and to remind you that it is all about balance. There is no perfect balance… what is perfect for you today, may literally need adaptation for you to be just right another day. So with all of your healthy habits, all your thoughts about yourself and your body, keep in mind that balance is transitory and nothing fixed at all!

Remember: there is no failure, only feedback on this journey to better health and wellbeing. By improving your relationship with your body and food, you will find better health and wellbeing one baby step at a time!

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