Hi. I'm a mess.
Somewhere along the line, I slumped into a lazy pattern where I eat poorly, skip the workouts, neglect goals and chores, and waste time playing online. It's like I simply float through life and accomplish nothing. How did I get so off-balance?
After due consideration, I've decided I could restore my balance by doing these three (seemingly simple) things:
- Stay offline until noon;
- Eat healthier plant-based foods for two meals a day;
- Walk at least 30 minutes every day.
I wake up and within seconds reach for my phone. Scroll, scroll, scroll. It takes me a minute to remember my new rule, then I immediately put it down...after...I...just...look...at...that...one...thing. Okay! Get up! I can't have a snafu like this again, so I take the extra step of logging out of my social media accounts. Now, every time I want to feed my addiction, the log-in screen reminds me: "Get off the phone, and nobody gets hurt!"
On the food front, there are always delicious treats circling around the office. (I pretend not to see those brownies, even though they definitely see me.) I make up a rule that I can snack on chocolate chip cookies — my biggest weakness — without guilt. So, any other treat I come across is off limits.
I quickly learn I need constant entertainment. Instead of poking the phone, I get out of bed early because I'm bored enough to — GASP — clean. Luckily, my hot-mess lifestyle means there is no shortage of chores at my place to distract me. Win?!
It's way too early in the week to break and eat cookies all day. So, I opt for a salad for lunch. Expecting a rabbit-food experience, the Wendy's Parmesan Caesar Chicken Salad is actually a great-tasting and sensible choice. The grilled chicken filled me up, and the crispy Parmesan appealed to my tongue. Balance made easy.
To kick off the day, I go for a walk in the park. This serves as a great way to relax before work, and I get some quality phone time with my grandma. She tells me about her plans to eat delicious, caloric-rich food. Sigh. However, adding a phone call to my walk makes it go by faster, and I begin to catch up on my long list of "people who I neglect but shouldn't."
Today's eating challenge comes when I meet up with a friend for dinner. Usually this is my time to "be bad," but I decide to behave myself — of course only if she's going to be good along with me. This actually works for both of us.
Work is only a 40-minute walk from my place, so I plan to walk there and home. Yes, I know, I know — I should be doing this every day, but this is a new challenge for me!
By lunch, tacos, tacos, tacos are all I can think about. After a bit of arguing with myself, I compromise and go for Wendy's Taco Salad. No guilt plus all the flavor. I start to understand balance even more. I don't have to deprive myself of what I want.
Balance is getting easier! It's either that or guilt from my mistakes has kept me in line. That's until I get to work... It's a tricky food morning because it's "Bagel Friday." Or as I call it, "Cream Cheese Friday." I cave.
I tell myself it's okay because I have two more meals left. I make my coworkers tell me as well.
I realize I didn't plan my walk accordingly! Now it's dark out. Today's walk score: F.
My need to lie in bed for an extended amount of time on the weekend makes this no-phone challenge exceptionally difficult. Should I stare blankly at a wall like our ancestors did way back in the '90s? Nah, I pick up a book. Balance: I am idle in bed and also following the new rules.
With a calm walk to start my day, I'm able to focus on the positive: nature in Los Angeles. I've heard about it, but I thought it was an urban legend.
This is the smoothest day yet! When it comes to a walk, the weekends are simple because I have the time. Weekdays? That's a different story. To fix that, I have walks on the calendar for next week that work around my schedule so there's no, "Oops! I forgot."
This is a considerable start toward a balanced life, but I have more work to do. I've learned that balance isn't begrudgingly gnawing on carrots nor blissfully gorging on brownies. It's not cardio every morning at 6 a.m. nor (hypothetically) giving up on working out for two whole years. It's that happy medium.
By making quality time in my life, I'm surprised to see how positive things naturally follow: catching up with loved ones, having "me" time, influencing those around me, cleaning, eating great food, and finding that squirrel who was practically begging to be my friend.
I've found ways to cheat myself into better balance, and it surprisingly worked. Because of that, I've even added calendar reminders over the next several weeks to develop more habits. These baby steps might make me a completely balanced person...by next year.
All photos by Eileen Connors and Sergio Guerra.