I wanted to write an article in the hope that someone who needs to read this does, and at the very least, makes them think about the following topic more carefully and how it affects every single aspect of your life. I am talking about BALANCE. Oh no.. not another blog post on “balance”? Yep! You know why? Because I STILL don’t think its been said enough how important a balanced life is. I am talking balance in your work, your relationship, your friendships and your down time.
So many people go through life unfulfilled because they don’t stop and think about what it is they REALLY want or crave. And the worst ones are the ones who KNOW what they want, but ignore it or are too fearful to go and change it. As you may be aware, my fitness journey started when I decided I wanted to compete in a body building fitness model competition. If you know someone who has done this, it can be the most selfish and self absorbed sport if that person becomes too obsessed with it. Well.. That was me. Because I give EVERYTHING 100%. I put everything into my bikini competitions. Training twice per day for my first competition, 20 weeks of preparation with only ONE cheat meal… Yep you heard right, one in 5 months. I followed my meal plan to a T! I lived and breathed everything competition until it literally drove everyone bonkers. I stood on stage for the very first time, anyone would think I would have been happy and proud to get up there. But I wasn’t. All I did was look at myself and pick myself to absolute pieces. Instead of enjoying the journey, I rushed through it and wished it away. I think scolded myself for not having big enough glutes, or a lean enough mid section. I look back now and think I am completely insane for ever thinking that! But that’s what the obsessive behaviour did to me.
I continued on to do one more season after that with a different coach. Both coaches were amazing in different ways, but I was the same obsessed person through both that when I came out on the other end I was left feeling deflated, with no direction. After the second season, I gained 6kg in a matter of 3 weeks and although that doesn’t seem like a lot to some, the difference in the look of my body was crazy! I decided I didn’t want to compete anymore as it made me more unhappy and I could see the balance was out in my life, but I became lost, I felt lost in the gym, I wasn’t training for anything in particular, I became really depressed, I felt fat (believe me I wasn’t) and I felt worthless because I didn’t come home with a trophy...
That is when I decided to focus on an overall balance of my life, something I could focus my attention on instead of one thing. Since doing that, my life has become much more pleasant, I am not as hard on myself (this is always a work in progress) and I am able to relatively quickly figure out what is lacking in my life and how to fix it. I like to look at my life in a pie graph! Each piece of the pie is a portion of my life. It is built up into a number of categories – Family, Friends, Romance, Health, Work, Recreation, Personal Growth and Finances. Each of these categories have an importance or meaning to our life and if each portion is not tended to enough, our balance falls out of place. Some people don’t think of balance in this way but since learning this, I constantly do a self check to stop and think about my life balance, where its at,what needs more work and or what is lacking.
Below I have pasted an image of a wheel – It’s called the SMART recovery wheel by Jim Braastad that I use on a regular basis. I put all of my categories in each section, and then I score each section between 1 & 10 ( 1 being low and 10 being high) and this tells me where I need to work on. This is great to do every 3 months or even every 6 months. Lets face it, the wheel falls out of balance all of the time. No one is perfect, but the idea behind this is being proactive with where you are at and being honest with where you are at.
Once you have completed the wheel, ask yourself some questions around this.
• Am I living a balanced life?
• Are my true values and priorities reflected here?
• If I had one month left to live, is this the way I would be spending my time?
• Am I involved in too many activities? Is there too much on my plate?
• How much of my time is spent caring for others? For myself?
• Are there areas of my life that need more of my attention?
• Is there a dream or desire that keeps getting put off that I’d like to focus on?
• What area(s) needs more attention? Where is less attention needed?
• What changes do I want to make? What can I do to “round out” my life?
Trust me when I say that balance is HARD. Just like anything else, you have to work at it every day. I still struggle with balance sometimes, but having people around you that know you and can remind you to slow down is awesome.