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Freedom from Extremes - The Quest for Balance

athenaHEALTHRachel CoxComment

It seems that everywhere we turn there is a new fad in the fitness world. Whether it is some variation of an elimination diet, a cool new workout regimen, or a company that offers some product promising to make all your fat disappear without you changing one thing about your diet or lifestyle, extremes seem to be every you look. 

Sometimes the right kind of fitness extreme can serve as a swift kick in the pants and can be exactly what we need to help motivate up physically. Recently, my husband and I tried out a very popular elimination diet. We cut out all sugar, grains, processed foods, alcohol, etc. for an allotted amount of time. And let me tell you what, it was hard, but exactly what we both needed to help open our eyes to the way food impacts our bodies. Extremes can be the kick-start of really great habits sometimes, and that is healthy and fine if you ask me.

Healthy living is all about listening to your own body, and because my body is different from your body this process is different for every person. I know for me it is easy to follow fitness accounts, read fitness blogs, and even eat healthy food but get discouraged when the weight doesn't come off for me like it did for so and so on Instagram. Can you relate? Well let's stop this cycle of extremes and shame spiraling. Here are some tips I have found really help me to maintain balance and freedom in my fitness journey. 

SET GOALS - BUT GIVE YOURSELF GRACE. 

One of my mantra's for life is "Be Kind To Yourself", I love this and remind myself of it often. Goal setting is huge when it comes to a successful fitness journey, but learning when to set it all aside and give yourself a break is just as significant. Learning the discipline of rest is just as important as learning the discipline of exercise and fitness. Some ways I give myself grace...

  • Establish a designated rest day, stick with it, and refrain from working out on these days. 
  • Allow yourself small indulgences such as a full fat latte every other week, one bowl of ice cream, or an order of fries on occasion. 
  • When I slip up and eat all the bad things, I try to avoid piling on the guilt that leads to shame spiraling, rather I set my eyes ahead for a fresh start tomorrow. Progress not perfection!

80 / 20 IS YOUR FRIEND! 

Like I mentioned earlier, elimination diets can be super helpful from time to time for an allotted amount of time, but on the average week the 80/20 rule is what I try to go by and it helps me maintain such a healthy balance in my eating. I eat healthy things 80% of the time, and allow myself those sweet indulgences 20% of the time or less. This keeps my cravings down, my sanity in tact, and it helps me to feel as though I am still enjoying life and not letting all of the simple pleasures found in sugar/carb/grease rich foods pass me by. 

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. 

This is really a habit that has to be cultivated, it is not natural for us in today's culture to say no to things. We are trained to eat impulsively, and to eat in line with our emotions. We have to work to really get in sync with the rhythms of our body. But once you finally allow yourself to slow down, be kind to yourself, listening to what your body really needs...this is when the true success of any fitness journey is found. So breathe deep, learn the power that can be found in both the words yes and no, and allow yourself the freedom to use both in order to find that perfect balance for your healthiest self. 

The bottom line is that fitness is a journey, and journeys are on going, ever changing, always moving forward. So rather than beating yourself up with rules, and lists, and unrealistic expectations, why not try seeking to find a healthy balance. We at athenafit believe this is where you will find your happiest and most healthy version of yourself. Work to find yourself in a place of thriving, physically, mentally, emotionally, and all of the rest will follow.