SELFCARE SUNDAY: BALANCE

15:17:00

Balance has become somewhat of a buzzword, especially in the #fitfam of Instagram. But it can be quite difficult to fill this word with actual meaning. For years I personally did not feel like I understood the concept of balance at all. I am pretty extreme in everything I do, I have extreme highs and intense lows, I need to see people 24/7 or not at all, I love you with all my heart or dislike you with a passion... let´s just say balance sounds very cool to me, but just like doing any type of ball sports it is highly unlikely for me to ever be good at it.


While I may never really have balanced emotions and in a way am really happy about being able to feel everything so intensely, I have always longed for balance with food and exercise. I. have talked about my struggles with food and the gym multiple times on here, but in a way I feel like this year it finally clicked for me. I have always been able to push myself for a clear goal for a limited time. I have done the Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines religiously for a few weeks to then just completely fall of the bandwaggon. I managed to eat extremely "clean" for a week or two. But then I would just give up on the gym all together or end up bingeing on the foods I restricted. I never managed to understand how people kept it together so well for so long, how they managed to live their life without fucking up, where they took all of this discipline from and I felt like a massive failure. I had this idea inside of my head, that there are foods which are good (quinoa, veggies and fruits) and foods, which are bad (fries, chocolate, candy). In my head every time I would eat "bad" foods I lost on some type of cosmic score board and was a weak and lazy human being. I also used to look at exercise the same way. Good people exercise every day except for one rest day, they push themselves, stick to a plan and never miss a workout.
This year for maybe the first time ever I decided to look at "fitness" in a different way. I was tired of the continuous fight against my own body, I was done with looking at exercise as punishment and food as categories. I am not going to tell you I was able to just push the ideas, that have been engrained into me away by myself. One of the main reasons I was able to approach food and exercising in a new way was changing the way I consumed social media. I unfollowed so many influencers in the last year and shifted my focus to accounts, that promote a realistic, holistic way of living. There is probably not enough credit I can give to the @fashionfitnessfoodie but I can honestly say her content has changed my life.
I think we all cannot begin to grasp the amount of lies and deception that go into fitness Instagram accounts, the amount of illegal drugs, extreme restriction and disordered eating behind so many of these accounts. I personally have never suffered from an eating disorder, but I truly don´t think if you ever had a deeply unhealthy relationship with food and exercise you should surround yourself with only these topics or make a living from it. I don´t think eating eating a raw diet or living off of protein shakes and chicken and working out six times a week is a way to heal your eating disorder, I think you are still struggling with your addiction just dressed up in a more acceptable way. Consistently presenting your body and your workout schedule as the one thing you base your self and monetary worth on, after supposedly recovering from an eating disorder is like being an alcoholic, who works in a liquor store. And that may be detrimental to you on a personal level, but if you dress this obsession up as a way to cure an eating disorder on social media and push that idea on other people you can possibly hurt but thousand of others.
So many of the fitspo accounts tell us about how they don´t restrict foods, but we never ever see them eating chocolate. Or they have a breakdown over "overeating" and skip meals and overexercise to make up for their terrible mistake. They claim they just lost the weight super easily while clearly eating miniscule portions and intense restrictions. They say they don´t use any supplements to then take drugs in secret and selling you meal replacement shakes or skinny teas.
It is not normal to only eat chicken breast and broccoli. It is not normal or attainable to exercise six times a week with a full-time job and it is incredibly easy to lie and hide unhealthy or extreme habits on social media. We often feel like we know the influencers we follow, like we are part of their daily life, but even if they upload Insta stories and content that takes up an hour everyday, that still is only five per cent of their lives. Becoming fit and having an amazing body or a six pack or growing a booty takes time. It takes effort, it is not a linear development and it is not a clear-cut formula for everyone. Anybody, who says they reached their goal weight in 10 weeks or lost 15 kilos in 5 weeks is lying or damaging their bodies to the extreme. This is one thing, that took ages for me to really understand: fitness and weightloss take a lot of time if done correctly.


Another thing that was crucial for me to learn was that there is no black and white to fitness. You are not a terrible person for eating chocolate, you are not a fuck-up for skipping a workout. You do not need to be "perfect" or work out every single day, you don´t have to completely ban tasty foods and you are not a bad person if you choose less nutrient dense foods or need to rest after an eight hour work day: you are human.
You may be able to fit in six workouts a week for a limited time or not eat chocolate or cake, but it is not something that is realistic for the rest of your life - unless you want it to be pretty sad. Being extremely strict with diet and exercise may work for four weeks, but not a year and we need to stop beating ourselves up or thinking we have fallen of some artificial band-waggon. THERE IS NO BANDWAGGON: There is you and the hope to feel good in your body. It is a marathon not a race, you will have rest periods and periods, where you do amazing.
For so long I demonized certain foods or taking more than one rest day. That attitude was sold to me for years. I thought I was simply too weak or not disciplined enough to spend all my free time at the gym or skip out on cake and chips. But at the end of the day it does not really matter if you eat a 100 calorie apple or a 100 calorie chocolate bar. Obviously we should all aim to nourish our bodies, but having cake or chips at times does not kill you. It does not immediately lead to weight-gain. Your body does not make a difference in what kind of calories it takes in. So you are not ruining your day by eating tasty foods and allowing yourself chocolate or candy or a glass of wine, it does not mean you messed up, it means you lived. And if you allow yourself these types of food whenever you want them you do not need to binge them and excessively overeat.
The same goes for exercise. Your body does not immediately bloat up after missing one session. If you do a workout guide your body does not know if you were supposed to do four or three sessions a week: you can miss a workout and still be fit, feel good and achieve your goals.
I think many of us struggle with the ideal or goal of a "perfect" life. A life, where you work out, eat healthy, meet friends, have an exciting lovelife five years into your relationship and nail it at work. And straying from this ideal is somehow automatically messing up or failing. But you can have both. You can have a happy fulfilled life and mainly focus on nutrient-dense foods and still eat cake or too much candy when watching the Bachelor with your girlfriends. You will not want a salad after a night out and I for one cannot be bothered to skip out on Aperol Spritz in favour of wodka soda, because it is lower in calories.
By taking out this intense pressure I got in the best shape of my life. I am stronger and more flexible than I ever was. Despite living all across Germany, despite travelling for two months this year I managed to fit in some form of excercise in almost all of my weeks. I don´t mind missing a week of excercise, I don´t think I have to fit in a HIIT session on vacation, I don´t care if I don´t work out for a week or just eat fun foods for a while. I don´t restrict my calories after a holiday or the weekend. Because this is not a 12 week programme. It is my life. 
I also don´t need to stick to a strict programme. Now that it is warmer I enjoy running outside loads. I loved the intense HIIT workouts I did in Australia and while travelling, but three months in I got extremely tired of jumping around all the time. I want to be healthy and strong and fit, but I also want to enjoy it. In an ideal world I aim for five workouts a week, but if I don´t manage to fit that in I don´t beat myself up. I simply have other priorities in my life during that time. My health and fitness is important to me, but so are so many other things in my life and I am not willing to sacrifice time with my family or friends or just for myself to head to the gym. Because I shifted my mindset from being perfect to feeling good. And that seems a pretty good way of living a balanced life for me.


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Thanks so much for your lovely comments, constructive criticism and suggestions. I will try to answer all of you!

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