Balancing Act is my wellness story for those struggling to find their health balance. It is possible to achieve health balance but not until we are honest with ourselves.
Each time I would step on the scale, I was silently praying, “Don’t be heavier.” At this point, I had battled my thoughts from “Girl! This is enough!” to “Girl, you’re still beautiful!”
With a full-time job and in pursuit of career advancement, a part-time college enrollment, a family of five children of my own and my nephew who lives with us, I decided to add a second part-time job to my evenings.
A juggler juggling is the perfect visual for my life! I should probably make it my logo. I like doing all the things! Although the part-time job had many benefits for my career, it was not helping my health. In fact, my health was truly suffering because I added one more thing to the juggling act.
Believe me, I tried to make it all work.
I started the second job at the beginning of the year but by Summer I knew things were getting out of balance. Instead of maintaining my weight, I was gaining. Instead of sticking to my prepped meals, I was snacking late in the day to keep awake. To make matters worse, I was eating again after getting home at 11:15 pm just to stay awake to study through the night.
If that wasn’t bad enough, all those extra calories found a nice comfy home in me because I wasn’t physically active. I work from home at a desk job during the day. Then I’d sit at my second job which was also the same type of work although at an office. Then I’d come back home to sit and study at night. I was sitting so much I would get physical pains in my abdomen, pelvis, hips, calves, and feet! You would think, with all this inactivity that I couldn’t possibly be tired. But I had never felt so exhausted!
I did have bouts of physical activity and getting my act together. I just couldn’t remain consistent because I was valuing my career over my health. Once I admitted that to myself, I made the right choice and stepped down from my second job. I got a health check-up with my primary doctor and was so relieved to find no serious health conditions had formed. “Move more,” she said. I took that as a doctor’s order.
When our life is out of balance, it is because we are placing more value over other activities, people, things, etc. Which actually happens all the time in life. Sometimes that imbalance is temporary. Sometimes our lives adjust to these changes and we carry on. However, my imbalance was causing more harm than health. When I began to make changes, I did feel good. Then unfortunately, I found myself reverting back to old habits; working too much, studying late, eating late night snacks, and sitting too much again. This time, I don’t want to revert back to old habits. I learned something about this process which may help.
The cycle of decision making and reverting back to old habits
Who can relate to making decisions then reverting back to old habits? Don’t beat yourself up over it! Did you know it’s a part of normal human behavior? Psychotherapists have developed a model to help us understand the process we go through when making changes to our behaviors. It’s call the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change. Each stage can take 6 months or longer to advance through because at each stage there is a risk of relapse. Which stage are you at today? On the left side are the terms and on the right side are thoughts in our minds. If you’re in the Precontemplation stage, you’re thinking, “No, I’m not ready” or “No, I can’t because…” If you’re in the Maintenance stage, you’re thinking of ways to continue your new behavior.
While studying the Transtheoretical Model, I learned that an important element to changing behavior can be your environment. Using my weight loss as an example, if I want to give myself the best chance at sticking to behavioral changes, then I should completely change my health “environment”; where I chose to workout, what time of the day I chose to workout, and whether I chose to workout on my own or with someone else, and even who that someone else is could be influential. This change will break subconscious habits that are triggered by the previous environment.
A juggler learns when to add and when to take away pieces. They learn how to maintain their flow and balance through these transitions. I’m happy to be working on my transitions. How about you? Does this information help you to understand how we make decisions and how we can best stick with them? Stay in touch with me as I work hard to stay in the Action and Maintenance stages. Keep me updated on your progress too!