I Challenge Myself to Practice Balance

In continuation of my New Year’s Resolution for 2017 of a new 30 day challenge each month, for the month of March I decided to work on my balance. I’m not talking about a zen-like balance of juggling all things on my plate and finding life’s balance. I mean physical balance.

All my life, I’ve struggled with balance — balancing on one leg, playing hopscotch, doing lunges, hamstring stretches, walking in a straight line. I have a vivid memory of when I was five years old getting ready to go into Kindergarten. For some reason, part of the test of getting into Kindergarten was to balance on one leg. This task proved to be very difficult for me. I don’t remember ever having to do that prior to this one instance, nor was there a need for me to. As I was stumbling about trying to balance, the teacher peered over at me and said, “Is there something wrong with her?”, suggesting that I go to a special school for my “issues”. My mother had to convince her that I was a normal child that could fit in with a normal Kindergarten class, all because I couldn’t stand on one leg! Over the years, my balance has never improved. In fact, I never caught onto riding a bike (there, I’m admitting to the world that I, at 33 years old, don’t know how to ride a bike! Laugh if you will!) because I couldn’t get the whole balance thing down. I also get very nervous near the edge of cliffs and buildings and mountains because, coupled with my fear of heights, I know how bad my balance is and have an image of me losing my balance and tumbling over the edge. I can even be walking normally and somehow lose my balance and stumble a little. At times, it can be very embarrassing. Let’s not even get into me wearing heels! So, for the month of March, I decided to once and for all, take my balance bull by the horns and try to get better at it.

The balance challenge I followed (http://darebee.com/challenges/balance-challenge.html?utm_content=buffer38833&utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest.com&utm_campaign=buffer) started with balancing on each leg for a minute and a half and worked up to balancing on each leg for five minutes total by the end of the month. On alternating days instead of balancing on each leg, the challenge was to do side leg raises, starting with 80 and working up to 200 by the end of the month. I didn’t understand why the challenge included side leg raises too until about halfway through when it occurred to me that it was to build strength in your legs for the balance holds. In addition to the balance challenge template, I decided to also do Cossack squats (https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/cossack-squat-variations-for-improved-strength-and-mobility) which are good for helping with balance and building leg strength, not to mention great for trimming your inner thighs. I decided to start with ten per day and increase by ten everyday thereafter. I quickly learned that I had vastly underestimated how difficult it is to do a Cossack squat! First of all, I could not get all the way down to the ground so I found myself doing a modified version which got looser and looser each day to accommodate how many I had to do. I think I made it to 150 Cossack squats before I gave up. As much as I would have liked to complete the challenge that I had set out to complete at the beginning of the month, I definitely failed with this one. Maybe Cossack squats can be a challenge one month all their own, but in combination with the other balance exercises, it was too much for me to keep up with.

So, I bet you’re wondering if my balance got better after working on it for 30 days. Well, let’s just say I’m not going near any cliffs any time soon. Some days I thought I had nailed the whole balance thing. I was able to skillfully balance on one leg for a few minutes at a time without having to hold onto anything or put my other leg down at all. But the last day of the challenge, it was like my pre-Kindergarten test. I couldn’t balance on one leg for 30 seconds let alone 5 minutes total. I had to keep putting my other foot down and starting again. I felt like a complete failure. But when I thought about it, I realized that it’s going to take a lot more than 30 days to perfect my balance. Doing something for 30 days isn’t going to make me an expert in it or make me perfect at doing that thing; it’s just a start to it. I had to remind myself that my 30 day challenges aren’t to perfect something, but to try something every day for thirty days and to stick with it. I may not have achieved perfect balance this month, but I’m determined to keep working at it and eventually I will be “stable as a table” and less like Lucille 2 from “Arrested Development”. (https://www.tumblr.com/search/lucille+2#)