Updated: Jun 14
I am fascinated by an article I read recently in National Geographic (1) that said 40,000 tons of stardust fall to the Earth every year. That is 80,000,000 pounds. That strikes me as, well, astronomical (pun intended), and reminds me how connected we are with the Earth, the planets, and the stars.
The fall equinox (which occurs annually around September 21st) is when the sun moves north across the equator, and daytime and nighttime are equally balanced. We can simultaneously celebrate this special occurrence and honor our cosmological connection by taking stock of balance within our own lives.
As a fitness instructor for the Levitation Nation Aerial Studio in Kalispell, Montana, I always encourage my clients to carefully balance lifestyle factors that affect physical health, such as sleep, nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction. I suggest looking at your quantity and quality of sleep first and foremost, since it is challenging (if not downright impossible) to get the other three factors to fall into place if you are not getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation impacts nutrition because it causes the hunger hormone ghrelin to elevate, making it difficult to stick with good food choices. Also, you can expect your workouts to suffer when you are sleep deprived, because how can you be expected to kick ass in the gym when you are exhausted?
Of course, balance in wellness does not stop at physical health. It is much bigger, and it can be a real challenge to find a balance for all things. As a professional dancer, I am often torn between many demands with limited time. I need to train for my dance and acrobatics, stretch, and cross-train on top of that. I also spend time each week doing food prep, and that is on top of running the studio and spending time with my husband. It can be a real challenge to fit it all in. And while I don’t have children myself, I work with enough moms to know how overloaded they can get too. But we must work to strike a balance that includes “me-time” on top of being in service to our goals and our family.
Parents also have the additional challenge of finding balance when it comes to eating for nutrition versus feeding a small army quickly and on a shoestring budget. Don’t get hung up on wellness absolutes here; absolutes like “avoid all processed foods” or “cut out all carbs.” It’s okay to occasionally serve pizza as long as that is not your daily go-to. Think in moderation and know that health can be found in the balance.
On wellness absolutes, there is one that I always stick to, and that is “no sugar;” simply because I personally can never have a “little bit” of sugar. Once I break the seal for “just one” cookie, I have ten. Maybe the same is true for you, maybe not. What is important is that you pay attention to the conversation your body is constantly trying to have with you, and you do what’s right for you.
It’s important to acknowledge that physical health is just one component of wellness. Comprehensive wellness is optimized through the synergy of all the dimensions of wellness ranging from physical, emotional, and intellectual to spiritual, social, and financial. With so many demands on limited time, you have to prioritize to fit it all in. For example, for the physical health dimension, you must prioritize:
· Sleep, by setting a bedtime for yourself and sticking to it.
· Nutrition, by picking a meal-prep day; so that you have healthy ready-to-eat meals when hunger strikes.
· Stress reduction and exercise, by scheduling in your “me-time” and exercise. These might be one-in-the-same, but if not, schedule both separately.
And, consider where you might be able to reclaim some time. One place I always look to when I need to reclaim time is reducing the amount of time I spend surfing on my phone. Identify where time may be lost unnecessarily, reclaim it, and use it to work towards your priorities.
One other type of balance which definitely deserves a mention is the energy balance, sometimes stated as “calories in versus calories out.” For those looking to maintain or hold their current weight, the calories consumed from food should equal the calories burned by daily activities and exercise. To create weight loss, you have to create an energy deficit by consuming fewer calories than you burn. Unfortunately for dieters, once your body gets accustomed to the lower caloric intake, it adapts by slowing down your metabolism so you burn fewer calories, resulting in less weight loss. It can be a vicious cycle. So, what is the magic formula? According to “Mindless Eating” by food psychologist Brian Wansink, it seems we can lose half a pound per week without triggering a metabolism slowdown. Since there are 3,500 calories per pound, that means those working on weight loss should be reducing calories by or increasing activity to burn 1,750 calories per week. The other important takeaway here is that sustained weight loss takes time and patience as well as trial and error.
Unlike the equinox, balance in wellness does not happen on its own. Use these tips to help you on your pathway to your best and healthiest self. Happy Balancing!
Article by Mindy Cochran. Mindy is a columnist for "Montana Woman Magazine." Her column "The Real Levitation Experience" shares expertise for elevating health & wellness that she has acquired through her certifications as a personal trainer and life coach. Mindy is also founder of Kalispell’s Levitation Nation Aerial Studio, where the catchphrase “fitness is fun” is embodied alongside a culture of movement & women empowerment. For more about Mindy, please visit: https://www.levitationnation.org/mindy.
(1) - https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/150128-big-bang-universe-supernova-astrophysics-health-space-ngbooktalk