Balance is the most difficult part of eating clean. Even more frustrating? People talk about “balance” as if it’s the easiest thing ever. “Just balance the healthy with the unhealthy and you’ll be great” but no one talks about how incredibly difficult that is. It can be hard to judge your own ways objectively, and it can be even harder to make the right decision when you allow temptation. This is why so many people forget the whole concept of balance and choose to do 100% healthy or just don’t care about it at all.
I want to talk about how I make balance work for me, as a non expert of course. This is coming from someone who has been stuck at both ends and often teeters off of the balanced middle quite often.
There are limits you have to set for yourself in order to stay balanced. With that being said, balance is a spectrum. It’s not a perfect ratio of good to bad. Again, it’s not easy.
We all have cravings, but I stifle those cravings with the 24 hour test. If I’m still craving it after 24 hours, I eat it. Otherwise I’ll never stop thinking about it. A lot of cravings are just hunger, and by eating anything, it’ll pass. Those aren’t true cravings.
I approach balance with a cost benefit analysis, like a true nerd would. What will I gain by eating this tempting food? What will I lose? Am I sacrificing my happiness because I want to be healthy? Am I giving in to something I don’t even truly want? I don’t impulsively teach for the donuts because someone brought them to the office and I want one. I really think about the decision. We tend to make decisions based on food rather impulsively when compared to other life decisions, when their effects are equally if not more important.
Balance takes practice. It took a long time of not giving into temptation to figure out how to make it work. Again, I mess up sometimes. Some months are more stressful than others, and I decide to let my mental health overrule the physical. Those are very carb heavy months. But during the summer, I have less temptation and more time to prepare myself. I can make healthy pizza and ignore when my friends Instagram their drool- worthy unhealthy pizza.
This also goes for my fitness philosophy. During the summer, I work out about 5 times a week. This winter, I never stepped into my gym once. I did at home workouts maybe once a week, and relied on walking across campus for the rest. Again, while physical health is so important, you can not neglect mental health. Balance didn’t work so well for me this winter, and that’s fine. Tomorrow will be better.
Don’t expect perfection. Being healthy and eating clean isn’t simple, and it doesn’t look the same for everyone. Some times are easier than others, and you just have to go with it and let your body have what it wants at times. Other times, you need to tell it to shut up and stop trying to sabotage your health streak. Listen to your body, and do what’s right at the moment.