The Art of Balance

Balance is a tricky concept. What exactly does balance mean, anyway? A quick Google search brings up some definitions including: “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady,” or “the stability of one’s mind or feelings.” Another definition I really like is “the ability of a boat to stay on course without adjustment of the rudder.”

In my view, balance is a state of being where no one thing is given too much weight or importance. It’s something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember, as I tend to get super passionate about one thing at the expense of all other things in my life. Sometimes it works out well for me: this blog is an example. I created it in a random state of excitement and passion, and somehow have managed to sustain it as my excitement about nutrition has ebbed and flowed. Other times my passion leads me to spend way too much energy on something to the point where I’ve lost the other parts of myself. Not so good for me.

I’m writing this post today because I had a serious soul-searching weekend. Not to go into too much detail, but I was blindsided by the loss of a relationship, the first one I had ever felt was progressing normally (which it wasn’t). At first I was stunned, and then I was heartbroken. Now, after talking to friends and family, I’m in a state of awareness.

I realize that I have to learn how to cultivate balance in my life, and not give too much of myself to anything: relationships, my career, my fitness, whatever. I tend to throw myself into everything I do with 100% effort, which is not only unnecessary but unhealthy as well. I can’t be spreading myself so thinly all the time. I can’t do everything perfectly all the time.

It’s ok to be good enough.

I have to keep telling myself that as I move on into the next stage of my life. I’ve spent so much time focusing on making my life perfect that I haven’t even enjoyed all the amazing blessings I’ve been given. I deserve to enjoy my hard work and not beat myself up over things that haven’t gone as planned.

It’s funny, I do yoga sometimes and have noticed that I struggle with certain poses more than others. It’s not that I’m not strong enough, or flexible enough, but I believe that my sense of balance is under-developed. In tree pose, one of the most balance-heavy poses, you can’t try too hard to maintain the posture, because too many adjustments cause you to wobble and fall. You have to get into a position that feels good and then just relax your whole body so that you can stay there. Oh yeah… I kind of suck at tree pose.

I think my struggle with tree pose is a good metaphor for my life, since I constantly am trying to micromanage every detail to the point where I end up messing things up because I was trying too hard to control the outcome. I need to just get into a comfortable position and maintain it, and not worry so much about where things are going or if I’m doing everything the right way. Things will happen as they’re meant to, and it’s not a reflection on my performance or my effort. I want to learn how to be okay with the outcome of things, no matter what happens.

Part of my plan to help me on this journey is to get more involved in a faith organization. I come from a Christian family but have not had much opportunity to explore my beliefs, and I’ve been afraid to do so on my own. But I think working on strengthening my relationship with God, and learning to trust that He will lead me in the right direction, will really help me with my anxieties about the future and fear of failure. I know I don’t really speak about religion on this blog, but honestly I do believe in God but struggle with understanding how to bring Him into my life. I guess nothing important is ever easy, right?

I know this was a personal (and pretty heavy) post that has nothing to do with nutrition, but I just felt like writing it. I hope it spoke to some of you – I know there are a lot of people in the Paleo community who want to do everything perfectly and feel like a failure if they don’t. I hope my words help you think about your own personal state of balance, and whether or not you’re letting yourself be happy with being “good enough”. Are you putting in too much effort into your quest for perfect health? Or for a perfect life?

In the end, no one is perfect, and striving towards perfection is a recipe for disaster and unhappiness. I had to have my heart get rattled this weekend to come to this realization.  ButI plan to use this experience as a way to re-evaluate my priorities and my overall mindset when it comes to pursuing my goals, dreams, and ideas of happiness. I’m going to try to learn how to relinquish some of the control to “the universe”, and not get so stressed about making my life fit perfectly into my high expectations.

It’s going to be tough, but I’m going to work on it. In the meantime, I hope to stay passionate about nutrition and health without going overboard. Might be easier said than done, but my own health depends on it!

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  1. Hi Laura,
    I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience. Personal relationships are risky things. There can be much joy but also much potential for pain. But we always learn things from these experiences and it sounds like you are already (it’s only Monday!) seeing the big picture and putting it all into perspective. It’s times like these that test our faith. I pray this experience helps bring you closer to God – I’m sure He will use it for good. As a fellow perfectionist, what you wrote really speaks to me and reminds me to be a little easier on myself. I think a lot of us get overwhelmed with trying to do too much and BE too much. Finding balance, as you point out, is key. As a Christian who practices yoga I have found that to be a great time for recentering and even worship of God.
    Thanks for your thoughtful post.

  2. Wow – I needed this today! Thanks for sharing and being so honest! It is often so hard to just let go and allow things to settle the way they should – this is a good reminder that sometimes that is all we can do!

  3. In every situation where your heart gets broken, broken for whatever reason, you should use it as a chance to learn a different facet of “yourself”. I’ve found that I learn more and more about my “true” self whenever I decide to take those big, beautiful risks in life!!! 🙂

  4. What a wonderful (and personally timely) post! So sad that you had a major upset in your life, but I am impressed that you were able to turn it inwards and reflect so quickly…I think it shows alot about your personal strength! I am sure that I Speak for many of your devoted readers when I say Thanks for sharing!

  5. I learned long ago not to give relationship advice (not that you were asking for any :))), but I will guide you to a solid tree pose. It’s best to start off in Mountain pose. Stand comfortably w/your feet about sitting bone distance apart. Engage your quads, make your spine long by curling your tailbone under and bringing your navel in. Now you have a solid base. Inhale and roll your shoulder up and back to place your shoulder blades in the center of your back and open the heart.Gaze straight ahead hands are resting at your side; take a few breaths here. Now, for Tree. Starting with your left foot, lift up just your toes and set them down one at a time starting with the pinkytoe to give you a solid base. (Visualize roots come out your foot into the earth) Now, bring the right heel to rest on the inside of the left ankle. (Keep that tail bone under, navel pulled in and left quad engaged. Bring your hands to hearts center. Take a few breaths here. Stay here or if you want more of a challenge, take you foot to the inside of you calf or above you knee (NEVER ON THE INSIDE OF THE KNEE). Listen to your body, You don’t have to take your foot higher just because everyone else does. You have to find the balance that’s right for you. It’s all about a solid base and listening to your what you need. Now repeat on the other side. What you do to one side you must do to the other….to keep in balance…. Namaste’

    1. Thanks Barbara! Will try out those tips next time. Sometimes I think I just rush it because everyone else is moving farther along than me. (and not just in yoga ;-))

  6. Loved this post. We are the same age and seem to have similar backgrounds education-wise, so I can definitely relate to a lot of what you write about about striving for perfection, trying to control things, etc. I also throw myself into things 100%, which isn’t always a good idea. Love your blog; keep writing!

  7. Thank you for this post. I am on a similar journey right now and am also looking for balance and perspective and trying not to focus on perfection. It’s a struggle every day…glad to know there are others constantly working towards these goals too.

    Best of luck in regaining balance and contentment. 🙂

  8. I think we can all benefit from learning the art of balance. I have the same perfectionist tendencies that you do and have to constantly be reminded to “slow my roll” (it’s a Queens expression 🙂

    You’re a smart, self-aware woman and that makes all the difference. Thanks for sharing!

  9. This really spoke to me Laura! How wise you are to see blessings as they are…so frequently disguised. Here’s to more balance and enjoying the fruits of your all-or-nothing personality!

  10. I gotta tell ya, this is my first time checking out your blog and I really enjoyed this post! (not because of the heartbreak…. sorry about that) I am back in school to become an RD and have a hard time giving 110% and fizzling out about half way through things because I over do it. Keep the good posts coming, nice to find someone on here I share a lot in common with! 🙂