BALANCE, REST & LIFE

I was once asked the question: “What is a life well — lived?” Now, there is no one answer to the aforementioned question, but to me, a life well — lived is a life of balance. Balance is certainly the key to my life. I use to be the textbook definition of “Type A Perfectionist.” It took me a thousand upsets later, long hours dwelling on trivial occurrences, and hours spent harping on minute details. Soon enough, I realized that my own health and happiness are truly more important to me than seemingly “appearing” to have my life together, when truly no one is even looking or caring. Whatever I do in life, whether it be in the realms of academics, health or even social factors, I now strive for balance.

As a health conscious person and avid gym-goer, I often forget about the importance of balance. Maybe this mentally of “all or nothing” stems from my perfectionistic nature. I sometimes let my passion for health and fitness consume myself and my thoughts. Everyday is a constant journey to seek and incorporate balance in my life. It has not been easy, but I can honestly say each day I only improve. The most overlooked and arguably the most important word in health is “balance.” In a society that is blooming with fitness fads, health media and nutritious stores, the constant reminder of living a life of health and wellness constantly surrounds us. Although I can certainly attest to living a healthy life, I cannot reiterate enough the importance of balance. We tend to underestimate how much maintaining balance contributes to living life successfully and productively. Sometimes we take on the frantic mindset that we must workout everyday. We joke about the overused phrase “No days off”; however, excessive exercise can actually be detrimental to not only your physical health, but also your mental health. We forget that one of the most important parts of exercising is giving our bodies adequate time to recover. In order to function at our maximum capacity, we must take care of ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually. Whenever you overdo any aspect of your life whether it be academically, socially or physically, you begin to lose perspective and balance. You begin to focus on one more than the other and begin to loose sight of the larger picture: living a wholesome life. This is unfortunately seen in the health-crazed society we live in. As the great philosopher and thinker Aristotle once said, “Everything in Moderation.” Balance is the key to life. Balance is the key to fitness.

I, like any other health-crazed person, tend to become obsessed with the latest workouts, healthy eats or anything fitness related. Every day is a constant reminder to stay balanced. It is truly easier said than done. Listen, I know how extremely hard this can be. I am someone who considers a five-mile run to be a short run. I have probably eaten more kale that is equivalent to wiping out a farm. I have tried all the latest workout classes. Soulcycle? Did it. Orange Theory? Love it. Barre Class? My fave. HIIT? Every week. Yoga? My rest day. I have probably tried every smoothie combination possible. I am constantly refreshing the lists of the greatest superfood. I continuously look up new weight exercises and strategically come up with a hard workout to undergo. Okay, I can keep going, but I think you get the point. Hey, maybe you even find yourself smiling because you can relate. When health and fitness is something you are truly passionate about, it is often hard for it not to become the center of your life.

Life is a current work in progress. Each day is a constant reminder that we can only become stronger than yesterday both physically and mentally. Wellness and fitness involve being aware and making healthy choices about diet, exercise, and staying positive. So often we hear about the important health benefits of exercise, but we must always remember we need to allow our bodies some time to rest. In order to grow and get stronger in mind and spirit, one must keep in mind the importance of proper nutrition and rest. It is rest that makes you stronger, because it is the rest that allows the muscles that you have broken down to heal and recover.

Many “fitness freaks” find the idea of taking a day off as a sin. By taking a day off, people who are ingrained in living a healthy life become anxious and fearful that a day off will cause a person to fall off track. But exercise is not supposed to be like this. There is nothing I dislike more than when someone says to me “I do not know why you exercise. You do not need to.” To me, exercising is not about burning calories to see a result. Exercising encompasses so much more than that. I exercise because it is my escape. I do not find exercising as a chore rather, it is in exercise that I find myself in tune with my thoughts. It is through exercise that I begin each day with an intention or end each day with ultimate appreciation. I have learned to love my body for the movement it is capable of and for pushing it to the ultimate limit. Exercise is supposed to be fun. It is not supposed to be a chore nor is it supposed to be focal point of one’s life. This is where I find the importance of rest days in exercise. Rest days should be implemented to allow the body to recuperate. I cannot reiterate enough the importance of eating well, eating right and drinking a lot of water. The same is true with eating right. I hear again and again: “You do not need to watch what you eat. You can eat anything.” Yes, I can eat anything and so can any person; however, I choose to nourish my body with the nutrients it is deserving of in order to fully energize and replenish the overworked muscles, tendons and limbs. But sometimes, whether it be in exercise or healthy eating. I tend to forget the importance of balance. The importance of completely letting loose: eating that ice cream and feeling no guilt for taking a rest day! Because life is supposed to be enjoyable, life is supposed to be lived well, life is supposed to be of balance. It is never okay to go extreme in any aspect in life. Whether it be in exercising or in eating, do not be hard on your body nor impatient. It is okay not to see immediate results. You must constantly remind yourself that you are stronger today and tomorrow than you were yesterday and the day before.

Our bodies are deserving of not only love but also of attention. Regular exercise is necessary for physical fitness and good health. Taking a day of rest is just as important in order to reflect on how far you have already come and to acknowledge and be grateful. Rest days benefit your mind by helping you get excited to jump back into the “grind”. It is important to understand that physiologically, when you exercise, you are causing a bit of trauma to the body. If you are not allowing your body to recover, you are causing yourself more harm than good. In turn, whether you are aware of it or not, this can also lead to detrimental effects to the mind. You can begin to spiral into a self-defeatist attitude, a negative conception and even a willingness to give up. The idea of exercising and eating right begin to consume and eat away your thoughts. You become “obsessed”. Therefore, incorporating rest days and “cheat days” can honestly be one of the most important parts of exercising. I have to admit it took me a long time to appreciate the beauty of rest days and cheat days. I used to consider taking a yoga class a rest day. Now, I have come to fully appreciate rest days dedicated to nothing but a day for reflection and appreciation for how far I have come. As a result, I have become not only a better athlete but also a more balanced individual. I find myself serene and satisfied. Oh, and on cheat days, I find myself indulging on the craziest burger you can think off with a pint of ice cream (NOT Halo!) on the side.

I will attest that becoming health and fitness conscious was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It has truly changed me for the better. Although I do believe I am in the best shape of my life, I do not mean that it has changed me for the purpose of physical results. By becoming health conscious and living an active life, I have become a more caring, loving and considerate person. I have found inspiration from other people and continuously want to not only better myself but to help others. While sometimes it is hard to stick true to yourself when others do not have the same mentality as you, you must remind yourself that everyone is different and it okay to be completely passionate and crazy about something.

Something that is equally important to me as health and fitness is the idea of balance. To me, rest is as important as exercise when it comes to living and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. As with anything in life, taking a break is essential. Your body always needs time to recover. Balance is the key in everything you do. Some days you eat salads and go to the gym, some days you eat a gallon of ice cream and refuse to get out of bed. It is called balance. Life is all about balance. In order to be physically and emotionally connected, one must be in perfect balance. In turn, every day you will grow stronger and more relaxed in mind and spirit. It is time to take a rest! You are deserving to appreciate how far you have come and what the future holds. Why do you exercise? What is your intention? To health and fitness. To a better you and to a balanced life.