Hey y’all! Today I wanted to talk about something that’s been on my mind lately and that is the idea of “balance.” Particulary balance when it comes to the way we eat and exercise. Finding that balance between “healthy foods” and “not healthy food” or tracking your macros and intuitive eating or working out and taking rest days… it can ben hard. It can be especially hard for those of us who come from a past with body image issues, disordered eating, or the fear of losing control. I can say that I have found a balance that works for me, but I am by no means perfect and still have days I find myself struggling to feel balanced at all.
First of all, “balance” is going to mean something different to everyone. We are all unique individuals with different mental and physical needs, we should not judge others on their idea of balance.
“Balance: a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.”
When I think of “balance” with food I think of eating in a way that nourishes your body, is health consious (not obsessed), and you enjoy other things in moderation just because you want to. Theres no guilt attached to indulging and no feeling reward attached to eating “healthy.” It’s simply how you eat and you make choices based on how you feel at that point in time.
On social media, I see alot of talk about finding balance. And for many they look to flexible dieting to do that, or… they’ve become too obsessed with flexible dieting and they want to find balance through more intuitive eating. I think for alot of people that I see, flexible dieting has really helped them overcome restrictive eating. It did so for me. I realized that there are no “good foods” and “bad foods” and that I could eat what I wanted and reach my fitness goals. It also helped me understand how the body uses different amounts of each macro nutrient: protein, carbs, and fats. Learning about macro counting really helped me when recovering from my eating disorders, because I was afraid of so many foods. White bread, rice, sugar, oils, artificial sweetners, and anything that I thought was “bad.” Flexible dieting helped me to find more of a “balance” when it came to food choice.
For someone that is competing in body building, tracking your macros and following a strict diet is not because they have an eating disorder. It’s because it takes precision to reach that goal. But if you’re not competing, tracking every bite of food you eat may not be healthy. It can turn into an obsession. Counting macros is an amazing tool, and allows you to eat a wide variety of food, but when your My Fitness Pal app turns into something you can’t live without – it becomes its own type of eating disorder.
Looking back, before I started prep I was way too strict with myself. I would still track my macros almost every day but listened to my body. I ate more if I needed too. I did enjoy the occasional “cheat meal” (I’ll make another post on why this actually is not a good term to use) with friends, but usually felt guilty afterwards. I was still worried about what I ate. I felt like I “couldn’t” eat the pizza or cake in my school caf because it couldn’t fit in my macros. I know I was keeping my fitness goals in mind, but I could have been more balanced.
Moving forward, after my next show, I plan to use macro counting simply as a guide and tool for me to check in on how I’m fueling my body. I’ve been doing it long enough that I should feel confident in just choosing some grilled chicken, rice, and veggies and know approximately how much I’m consuming without feeling the need to always weight it out and track it in an app.
I will be reverse dieting to build my metabolism, so I will need to track for a while so my coach can know what’s going on and what he needs to change. But once I get to a place that I feel my metabolism is running very efficiently, I want to challenge myself to intuitive eating and not track for a while. I think it’s good for anyone to take a break once in a while and it will be really good for me mentally. Of course I’ll still be eating nutrient dense foods, but it won’t be so meticulous. I also want to be able to just enjoy college and go out for spontaneous pizza and ice cream.
Pizza is not what’s unhealthy, its worring that it’s going to make you fat is what’s unhealthy. Having a perfect diet is not what’s healthy, but being at peace with food is healthy.
Let me know what you think of balance.