How do you find “balance” in your life?

Do you consider yourself a balanced person? Or is it an ideal you’re constantly chasing — or one you’ve abandoned all hope of achieving?

I think the answer depends on your definition of “balanced.”

I used to think that balance was all about finding the sweet spot and staying there. I thought that if I chose my convictions carefully then I could fearlessly hold to them, never caving or yielding too far to temptation, never shirking and slacking off so as to lose my footing. Balance, I believed, was also about cultivating a zen-like aura so that no matter how fiercely the winds of chaos beat about me, I could maintain my sense of calm and persevere through the storm.

What a load of crap.

Look, I’m not saying this isn’t possible; for all I know it is and I just wasn’t the kind of person who could achieve and maintain that definition of balance. But the more I get to know the world and the people in it, the more I realize I’m not alone in rejecting it. I don’t mean giving up and thinking I can’t achieve my dreams — I mean staring this ideal in the face and saying, “This is not the life I want. I choose a different path.”

When I started this blog I had just begun exploring a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. And I loved it. I believed that not only was this the diet for me, but it was the ideal way of life I had been searching for. And for a while, it was. But then I started to realize that maybe it wasn’t. And that scared me.

For the first time in my life I was passionate about something. I had known passion before, but never had I been so inspired and consumed by something so completely, so lit up from within. To then begin to question the foundation of my passion could have been heartbreaking — were it not for my revised definition of “balance.”

I know now that balance is not about standing still, firmly, unwavering. Balance is about being able to guide yourself back when you’ve gone too far one way or the other. It’s about being flexible, yes, but more importantly it’s about being forgiving — being able to say to yourself that it’s OK if you don’t know the answer, and it’s OK to change your mind.

Balance is about letting judgement roll off your back, whether it comes from those around you or from inside. It’s about letting go of pride and accepting help when you need it, just as much as it’s about silencing the voices around you and being brave enough to follow your own inner guidance. It’s about seeking the calm amid the chaos and being patient if it doesn’t come when you call.

Balance is not about keeping your footing no matter what; it’s about finding your footing again when you’ve lost it for the hundredth time, keeping courage and faith all along the way.

Image via wellinla.com

This kind of balance is not only something to strive for, it’s something worth achieving.

My food philosophy is changing as I keep walking this path, and I’m OK with that. In fact I’m more than OK with it — I welcome the changes. I’m realizing that I’ll never stop learning, never stop seeking truth and wellness and health and happiness — and I’m learning that the way I achieved balance yesterday may not be the way I achieve it today.

Because sometimes you need a freaking donut. Sometimes you order a pizza or take the kids to McDonalds (again) or refuse to cook for a week or more because you can’t bear the thought of taking on such a monumental responsibility as nourishing your family, not when you feel so under-qualified and depleted and unappreciated and completely in over your head.

And that’s OK. You don’t have to have all the answers right now or ever. You don’t always have to have a game plan and you don’t always have to keep to the path. Life is hard. It’s messy and it’s exhausting and sometimes it just plain sucks.

So forget about perfection. When you’re confused or exhausted or any time at all, it’s OK to forget about ideals or goals and just be. And when it comes to your healthy eating habits, most of all be forgiving. Know that you’re not the only one questioning yourself and wondering if you have what it takes to meet your goals. You’re not the only one giving in to cravings or falling victim to food addictions. It’s OK. You haven’t “blown it”; you’ve just gone a bit too far one way, and it’s time to gently guide yourself back.

What’s your idea of balance? How do you find it and how can you stay there? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share your wisdom in a comment below.

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4 thoughts on “How do you find “balance” in your life?

  1. Dianna says:

    Changing the whole way you eat is hard. Really hard. I’ve been grumpy for the past few months and I think this is why—it’s incredibly stressful to upend all your old traditions, which are always interlaced with food, and to abandon the last ten years of hard work you did learning how to cook the “normal” way.

    I fail too. I eat things I shouldn’t and I regret it later. I wish I could take a more balanced approach, but my health went downhill this summer and now eating this way is my only hope. Also we recently figured out my son is allergic to dairy.

    So here I am, grumpy. I am not withstanding this storm with calm from within. I’m plodding along even though I don’t always want to be doing it, and it makes me grumpy. Grumpy grumpy grumpy. Change is hard. So is having confidence in your changes.

    I hope you find the balance you’re looking for.

    Like

    • Lindsay Maxfield says:

      Yes, it’s so incredibly hard, Dianna. Especially if you feel almost forced to change your habits instead of choosing to because you’re eager to try something new. But you can still eat this way and seek the kind of balance I’ve enjoyed. Yes, you will need to be more strict about your diet than others, due to your health issues. But you don’t have to feel the guilt and regret when you eat something you shouldn’t. Just be ready to try again next time to make better choices. You can do this. And it’s worth it. You’ll move past the grumpy and find happiness. I know it.

      Like

  2. Becca says:

    This post came at an ideal time. But I waited until now to read it, because I knew I wasn’t quite ready yet. I, too, have been dealing with a lot of change and have struggled with EXACTLY what this post is talking about. I was so excited about converting to completely WFPB, then as circumstances have changed is just hasn’t been the right time for me. I tried so hard to hold on to what I had just become so passionate about, but it was sacrificing other more important things. Not to say that my health isn’t important, but like you Lindsay, I have been learning to find balance in other ways, and I’m learning that it’s ok to change my mind. And it’s ok to have a freaking donut!!

    I personally am overcoming stress eating, and there are times when it is much much worse than others. It’s the absolute worst feeling in the world to feel so out of control. But I love this post, because balance really is about steering myself back to where I need to be, and not beating myself up for messing up. I’m learning to simply listen to my body and give it what it needs, instead of trying to force it into submission and depriving it of things it really needs. I’m learning to be my body’s friend 🙂 We don’t have to be so hard on it to keep it happy.

    Anyway thanks a lot for this post. It rings very very true to me right now. I feel you!!

    Like

    • Lindsay Maxfield says:

      Becca, thank you so much for your comment! I am moved to hear about your journey, because it sounds like we’re on very similar paths and we can relate. I am thrilled to know that this post resonated with you because I am honored whenever I get to play a small part in another’s journey. Blessings to you!

      Like

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