Living a Healthy Balanced Lifestyle
Lately I have been really motivated to get my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self in tip top shape. In the past I have focused on one or two of these areas at a time, but I am realizing that in order to maintain a balanced life I need to keep all four in good working order. Doing this takes effort, which is why I have started implementing daily/weekly/monthly practices to make consistency in these areas more attainable. I know I can't just will myself to be a certain way, and I don't want to rely on my circumstances to make me happy. I am a big believer in having an internal locus of control (read more about that here).
The key for me in staying consistent was figuring out why I wanted to live a healthier, balanced life and let that motivate me (not just because it's a new year or the book I'm reading tells me to). My true motivators come from the fact that I have a daughter to be a role model for, a husband to keep up with (he is always trying to better himself), and a life I want to enjoy to the fullest. Keep reading to see how I keep these four areas in check!
I take care of my physical self by staying on top of my nutrition, fitness and sleep. See some of the habits below that work for me. If you are in a rut right now and need a change, try implementing some of these things. If it seems overwhelming or you don't know where to start, send me a message through my contact page and I would love to give you some small steps to get started!
What I eat is basically the number one determiner of how I will feel physically. I have a natural bend towards healthy foods, but I also have a major sweet tooth. The key for me is in finding balance, as I'm not a fan of cutting anything out all together. Here are a few things I do daily:
Make vegetables the largest serving on my plate.
Meal prep at the beginning of the week (roast veggies, cook protein, make hummus, etc).
Incorporate smoothies when I am in a rush instead of grabbing something quick that's processed (see my post on 5 superfood smoothies).
Cook most meals from scratch to avoid excess salt, additives, GMO and other fillers (if you don't have time for this, there are lots of quick ways to still eat good meals. Maybe that'll be a future post?)
I get that finding motivation to work out can be hard. When Everly keeps me up at night, or Jason is on the road, it would be so easy to throw in the towel. You don't have to work out 7 days a week though, or even at a gym. There are tons of studies that show even a few short intense workouts a week can make a huge difference, including workouts at home with no equipment! Decide how many days are realistic for you and stick to it. Here are a few tips I implement to make sure I get my workouts in.
Have someone keep you accountable (for me this is Jason). If you have a friend with a membership at your gym, plan to go together. You're less likely to ditch.
Find motivation. I follow @linnlowes on Instagram who has a killer bod and posts fun easy workouts. Figuring out what to do at the gym is half the battle, if you have a workout in mind before you go I promise it'll be easier getting out the door!
Set goals. It could be anything - how far I want to run, how much weight I want to bench press, how many squats I want to do. Once I reach those goals, I set new ones.
Keep track of my workouts. I just started doing this and I love it. I bought a $1 journal and after every workout I write down what I did. This also helps with keeping track of my goals.
Sometimes this means workouts from home and doing squats and sit-ups using your daughter :)
This one is harder since having a baby, but I try and go to bed early each night so that I can get at least 8 hours of sleep. Everly sleeps 12-13 hours at night so I have no excuse. Jason and I also always go to bed together so we keep each other accountable to an early bed time!
Staying sharp mentally is harder now that I am a stay at home - singing the ABC's just isn't that challenging. For me I find reading (non-fiction) books, listening to podcasts and setting goals help keep my brain engaged. Jason and I have our goals written out on a cork board in our bedroom so we see them every morning when we wake up and every night before we go to bed. It's a good reminder to know what we are working towards!
This area is more of a work-in-progress than the others. I've always been a bit emotional and reactionary, and will likely continue to tame this beast until the day I die. I literally googled Emotional Intelligence because in order to work on it I have to fully understand it first. Here is the definition from Mind Tools, "EI is the ability to recognize your emotions, understand what they're telling you, and realize how your emotions affect people around you. It also involves your perception of others: when you understand how they feel, this allows you to manage relationships more effectively." Knowing this, a few things I am trying to implement to become more emotionally intelligent are these:
Confront issues while they are small (I have a tendency to bottle things up until they grow into big ugly monsters and then explode, as I do not like confrontation).
Not be easily offended. It only hurts you when you're offended, not the other person (as my husband always reminds me, most people have good intentions).
THINK before I speak or react.
Engage with people from all walks of life so that I can understand where they are coming from. Being narrow-minded, ignorant or judgmental because someone is different is unacceptable.
Remove negative people from my close circle. They say you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Use Jason as a sounding board for things I say or how I act (I don't always have a proper view of how I come across).
This is the glue that keeps it all together for me. For those of you that don't know, I am a Christian, which means I believe in Jesus and aim to live a life like He did. In short, love God and love others. I will obviously fall short of this, but including God in my life on the daily makes it much more attainable. Staying in tune with God makes realizing my purpose a whole lot easier, and makes walking through this life a lot more fulfilling. Here are a few ways I keep my spiritual walk strong:
Listen to messages online (I like Church of the Rock, Willow Creek, The Chapel, Grace Fellowship or Hillsong). You can also search these on your Podcast app on your iPhone, which is great if you have a commute or need to kill time.
Read the bible. Jason and I usually do this before dinner or once Everly is in bed so we can focus.
Go to church. I think it's important to be in community and spend time with other believers.
Pray. Always and about everything. One of my fave verses: Philippians 4:6-7.
Have a plan going on the Bible App.
Join a bible study if you can. We don't have one in Elmira, but I just started going through The Battle Plan for Prayer with my friend who lives in DC. It is inspired by the film War Room. If you haven't seen it I HIGHLY recommend it.
I would love to hear how you guys strengthen these four areas of your life and the habits you have. Comment below and let me know!