Balance: it’s the thing we strive for in all aspects of life, between work and home, discipline and unstructure, love lives and friendships.
But what most don’t understand about balance is that, at least in my eyes, its never in stasis—it’s a constant push and pull. We’re always testing our realities, assessing, and recalibrating based on the results. We give and take. It’s a constant, beautiful fluctuation that challenges our awareness and investment in living stable, healthful lives.
But when it comes to health, we’re in an impossibly difficult state. For those with open eyes and ears, we become privy daily to harm and dangers lurking in everything we touch, breathe and eat. Its one of those overwhelming truths that makes many of us sigh heavily and say
“well, we’re all gonna die anyway,” or
“I don’t bother buying organic apples because the air we breathe is toxic,” or
“if I’m supposed to get sick, I’m gonna get sick no matter what”
If you’ve heard or said any of these things before... I feel you. This “all of nothing” affect is a natural response to the outpouring of information thrown on us, swearing that everything we know is a lie. It’s a lot to take in, a lot to process, and many of us don’t know what to do with it. I’m here to share with you my personal take on it.
Since my high school days, I have struggled with weight loss and a learned unhealthy relationship with food. Because of familial and community heritage, weight for me was always tied to self-worth, value, and social acceptance. I have literally seen every nutritionist in the borough, and have joined weight watchers abut 6 times. I have gone completely vegan, I have written my food down for weeks on end, I weighed myself pre-shower, post-shower, morning and night, I counted points, I counted proteins, starches, and vegetables, I measured food, weighted food, portioned food, I’ve cried every Saturday night for the last ten years because of what I’d eaten all day, I chewed gum to stave off hunger.
I tried this one, too.
Any weight loss I’d incurred had always come back.
So, I tried eating healthy for the sake of eating healthy. Although I was always an exerciser, I started lifting weights 4-5 days a week, and focused my eating habits on the quality of the food—organic produce, huge leafy salads, grass-fed butters and cheese, meats and poultry, sprouted nuts and seeds, and the like. I told everyone I saw about the different additives in food, the benefits of better quality proteins, and how the human body runs on good fats. For a while, I felt great—strong and energetic. Never thin, but strong.
After having a baby, nearly a year has passed since I lifted a weight. In my first trimester, bread and cheese became the new staple—to this day in can’t imagine a meal without either. My priorities shifted, and eating healthfully became a chore. More than a chore—the mere thought of trying to eat healthy for the sake of eating healthy brings me right back to those anxiety-ridden single-girl days, where I would lie to myself about being happy with the way I looked and mentally battle the brownies in front of me, knowing that if I didn’t lose weight, I wasn’t good enough- to get married, to have a life, to be happy.
Two jobs and a baby later, I just do not have the mental space or desire to feel that way anymore. Peace of mind is as good as any drug. Being able to go a day without pinching my stomach or lamenting my extra pounds is a huge gift that I’ve given myself. After hours of (continuing) therapy, I am finally able to go through my days without once thinking about my weight. Hopefully, soon I’ll be able to pursue a healthy diet for the sake of my health, without subconsciously tying those thoughts to deeper ones having to do with my self-worth.
If I’m anything, its passionate, and unyieldingly at that. So where did my talk of health go? I steered it- to skin. Researching toxins in creams and changing the products I use on my body is empowering for me-- not anxiety-inducing. I know that I am making such a huge difference for my body every time I swap a harsh, harmful something with a non-toxic one. I make these changes every day. I care about my body, my health, and my family’s, but I have a ways to go when it comes to my food. Heck, I bet my Macy’s couch and cheap Ikea furniture is chock full of flame retardants, and the lime green paint on my wall just bursting with Volatile Organic Compounds. But such is life. You live and you learn. Every change you make makes a change back. Don’t go out and undo your whole makeup drawer—when you run out of your old mascara, make a smarter purchase (like this one). Next time you finish a bottle of laundry detergent, make a better choice (click here!). You’re not a fake or a phony for wanting to make small changes.. you’re a growing and evolving human, and that’s what counts. It isn’t all or nothing. Its never all or nothing.
Right now, I want to keep my beauty junk free. And (I hope) my fridge is soon to follow.