“Balance” is one of those buzz words that we hear all the time in the health and fitness world. It’s often recommended to eat balanced meals, to balance our running with strength training, and to keep our muscles balanced. These recommendations are all intended to be useful, but it seems that more often than not we may be left wondering what exactly that balance should look like?
The truth is, it’s different for everyone. Not only that, but it changes for each individual in different circumstances. A balanced routine right now might not provide you with the same level of balance 6 months from now. As I was doing my long run last week, I began thinking about this and what balance means to me in different areas of my life. How do I know when I have found that “balance” that everyone speaks of? How will I know when I have done too much in one direction or another and need to make a change? I think these are some of the most difficult questions to answer. I’m not here to tell you how to find balance, but to tell you that while it’s something to work for, it may not be easy to identify or maintain.
Let’s start by looking at some ways that we may be told to “seek balance”:
Nutrition: Eat mostly “healthy” foods but indulge occasionally as well
Running: Balance hard running with easy running
Recovery: Take enough rest days, but not too many, and get enough sleep, but not too much
Injury prevention: Find a way to do core work, yoga, strength training, cross-training, foam rolling but also find time to actually run
Muscles balance: Strengthen all the key muscle areas but also keep them flexible
Life: Work hard, but also find time to enjoy yourself
I could probably go on, but you get the point. Most of these are so arbitrary, although some have general guidelines but may need to be personalized to meet one’s individual needs!
So what are some ways to know if what you are doing is working for you? I don’t think there is a magic answer, but I think it comes down to intuition and experience. You need to know yourself, and know when things aren’t going well. Just because you could get away with 6 hours of sleep a few years ago doesn’t mean that you don’t need more than that now. Maybe during your last marathon training season you were able run 50 miles a week, but this time around you just feel like something is off and need to cut back.
In most of these cases, we need to make decisions for ourselves. Professionals can help, but again, they are usually basing recommendations off of generalizations.
Balance is a wonderful goal, but it’s not realistic to be 100% in balance all the time. Those of us who have Type A personalities may find this difficult to wrap our brains around, and we are the ones who really need to let go of this idea and think of balance as more of a “range” in most cases, or an intention that is very fluid. We need to constantly be adjusting and reevaluating to find where we need to be!
While this sounds overwhelming, it should really be pretty simple. Do what you think will work best for you, and if it stops working, try doing things a little bit differently.
On a sidenote, I am a Libra and we are known for trying to find balance!
What do you think about the search for “balance”?
What is one area where you struggle to find a good balance for you?
What is your zodiac sign? Does its description fit your personality?
I’ll also be adding this to Amanda’s Thinking Out Loud link-up!