Over the holidays, I ate gluten free pizza, chocolate, frozen yogurt, peanut butter, and Panera salads to my heart's content. I visited my family, played with my baby niece, and hung out with my dear friends. As my winter break from teaching came to a close, I was feeling a little guilty for indulging to the point that all I could wear was elastic pants. But then I watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love with my parents (probably while eating frozen yogurt), on my comfy couch, in my ever-present stretchy pants. After the movie I had an Oprah "ah-ha" moment...
Now, the movie was not an academy-award winner, but the message of the movie really struck me. **If you don't want to know the ending, stop reading.** Julia Roberts finds herself in a marriage and a lifestyle that is no longer satisfying. She has essentially melded her life with her husband's life and has, in turn, lost herself. She takes a year long trip to 3 different countries to "find herself" and to find balance. Cheesy storyline, I know. But, in the end, she finds a man in Bali that she is starting to fall in love with. After weeks and weeks together he is ready for some kind of commitment and wants to begin a long-distance relationship with her as she is returning to the states very soon. She momentarily freaks out and says no because she doesn't want to lose the balance that she has found in her life...she has become independent, she has found hobbies, interests, and friends that are hers, and she seems happy. But what she realizes after she says no to her lova' man, is that balance looks different in everyone's life and it's OK if a balanced life doesn't really look balanced. Her new balance is more heavily weighted with love and relationship, but that is the balance that keeps her healthy and makes her happy.
She realized that denoting a bigger portion of her life to her new lover and their relationship didn't make her any less independent or any weaker. It just meant that her balance of life's priorities would be different than other people's and if it worked for her, and her lova, that was OK.
I know this seems a little deep for a movie that lasted approximately 3 days in theaters...but it was a message that I needed to hear right at that time. I needed to hear, if only from a cheesy movie, that my lifestyle since the competition was, in a sense, OK.
After my competition I was busy but I was also burnt out. I was tired of thinking about every bite I put in my mouth. I was exhausted from work and and tutoring for 2 hours after work, so that gave me an awesome excuse to skip going to the gym. I just...didn't feel like putting in the time and effort I needed to at the gym. I also wanted to make sure I kept up with my friends and visiting my family. Weekly dinner dates with friends, and weekend trips to see other friends and family, kept me busy...and happy. Most of the time I threw caution to the wind and went out to eat, had a few drinks with friends, ordered take-out food...and loved every minute of it. I didn't eat terribly, and I still exercised sometimes, but the balance of my life had completely shifted. And, post-chick-flick, I realized that this was OK. I didn't have to have the balance of everyone else, and I didn't have to have the balance that I had had for the past 6 months. This new balance, for the time being, made me happy. I was still healthy and I was extremely happy.
I think that people get side-tracked in their weight and fitness goals because they think that they have to be perfectly balanced (the balance that the proverbial "they" says we should have) all of the time. We are told to eat 6 small meals every 2-3 hours, exercise 5-6 times a week, have a balance of weight training, cardio, and interval training. We are told a cheat every now and then is OK And that time with friends and family is important. And don't forget that being happy at your full-time job is good for weight loss as well as a perfect 8 hours of sleep every night. Almost every fitness magazine talks about the perfect balance that we should all have. In an ideal world, this balance would be wonderful...if we all had the time, energy, motivation, money, and resources to keep up this kind of balance all the time...and remain happy. Sometimes it's overwhelming to think of all the things that "they" say we should be doing all the time to stay healthy and be successful, especially at something extreme like a figure competition. And I don't think it's possible to keep that perfect balance for very long, if ever.
I guess my point is...at different times in people's lives, their balance can be, and sometimes has to be, different. And as long as people remain healthy (maybe not competition material, but healthy), different balances can be OK. My balance over break was not 25% work, 25% family, 25% exercise, and 25% friends and Greg :). While this may look like the perfect balance, it wasn't the perfect balance for me at that time. It was more like 75% family, friends, and Greg, 20% eating, and 5% exercising. My balance during my training was about 70% exercising/preparing food, 20% Greg, 5% family, 5% friends. That balance, such that it was, worked for that time in my life.
Starting now, at the beginning of the new year, I am going to begin training for competition #2 and my balance will again shift. To what, exactly, I'm not sure. But I do know that, while my body may not be that of a super model at the moment, I am damn OK with what my balance in life has been since competition #1. I had a great time with my friends, my family, my boyfriend, and my food. I gained some weight but not an unhealthy amount, and I was able to direct my attention to aspects of my life that I had been neglecting. We'll see what the balance of this training cycle involves!