July was a slippery tightrope on which I could not get a firm grip despite my efforts. Obligations battled for attention, sickness sidelined me, pressures built, and schedules filled. As so often happens when I’m overwhelmed, a critical component of my well being suffered: my health. But rather than write off an entire month, I’m trying something different. I’m giving myself credit where it’s due, identifying areas for improvement, and most importantly, examining where I lost my balance in life so I can maintain it next time a strong wind blows.
Where I Lost My Balance
It’s a shame that the first thing to suffer when life gets hectic is most often ourselves. I can count on one hand the number of times I exercised in July. I barely meditated. I hardly cooked. I bought lunch and takeout when I didn’t need to, spending money I didn’t want to and consuming food I hadn’t planned to.
One day in the middle of the month I felt an urgent need to reset. I was inspired and energized, so I wrote “How to Reset Body and Mind to Feel Better Instantly.”
My reset lasted one day.
I was unable to follow my own formula, which has worked countless times. And so I struggled two more weeks, hopping on and falling off the tightrope until I was exhausted and defeated.
Coincidentally, the winds have died just in time for a new month. I am firmly planted on my rope and feel balanced. Before I take a step, however, I think it is important to examine where I lost my balance. I have my friend, Robin Renee to thank for that. You see, she commented on my post about resetting with words of wisdom that resonated with me:
“I try to notice, gently, what led me off the path. When I notice consciously that I am overeating out of nervousness or emotional upset, it’s a little easier to stop and make a better choice. If I find I am being reactionary out of anger directed at self or other, I might take the first steps toward looking at the underlying issue rather than punishing myself by being inactive or something similar. To do that kind of self-reflection, while being kind to myself regardless of what I find, is a practice that has seen me through a lot in recent years.”
I didn’t manage to do this in the throes of July’s chaos. But since stress and life is certain to keep happening, Robin has helped me to realize that the best way to prevent losing balance in the future is to “notice, gently” what led me off my rope. Did I stumble for the sake of stumbling? Am I weak and undisciplined? Am I a failure?
First of all, June depleted me physically, emotionally and mentally as I was consumed with achieving my weight loss goal. I needed some time to recuperate and take it easy and so I allowed that for myself.
But then I got sick with an upper respiratory infection. I was so miserable that my cravings for comfort in the form of food came out in full force. I was not strong or well enough to resist them. And so for nearly an entire week I slept, binge-watched Vikings, and ate whatever I wanted.
After that, things were just… full… and I struggled to gain my footing since so many things required my attention. Keep in mind that not everything was necessarily bad. In addition to the tough stuff a lot of significant and positive things happened. It was just a lot. The rest of the month felt like one long uphill climb. Each obligation, social event, and appointment was a checkpoint I was relieved to cross. Time off was hard to come by, and so I used it to sit and rest (and eat) rather than reset.
Areas For Improvement
I do not say any of this to make excuses. I’m simply “noticing.” There is a learning opportunity here, which is why I’m reflecting. The first step to doing better is to understand where I went wrong.
I see now that next time I do something particularly taxing, I need to plan close-ended recovery time. Next time I get sick, I must remember to stock up with “healthy” comfort food since even sickness is no deterrent to my appetite. And if my schedule gets too full, I need to find windows for rest, but also windows for self-care, even if that means rescheduling some things.
Clearly, I still have work to do understanding and prioritizing my priorities. My health is a high priority, yet my actions don’t reflect that when life gets full. I must prioritize my diet, exercise and well-being regardless of the winds life kicks up.
Giving Credit Where It’s Due
I struggled this past July and I lost my balance in life. But with that being said, I see great progress in how I handled a difficult month. Despite falling off my rope, I continued to step back on even if I only held my balance a few hours before stumbling again. Three years ago I would have cut the rope and burned it.
Throughout it all, I didn’t smoke a cigarette and celebrated my one-year cigarette-free-versary on July 23. Although my eating was poor, I made better bad choices. And although this past month affected my relationship with my self, it didn’t spread farther than that. It didn’t leave me emotionally erratic or cause tension in any of my other relationships. This is a tremendous victory.
I am a work in progress and like everyone else, I’m doing the best I can. My performance this past July was my best. But now after reflecting on where I stumbled, I feel confident that with practice I will continue to improve my balancing skills.