Last weekend I spent my time with an amazing group of women in a wonderful location near the Lake District on our very first reTREAT. I think it’s safe to say the weekend was an absolute success, we ate amazing healthy food which just happened to include lots of chocolate, and talked about all kinds of different aspects of health and wellbeing.
Some of the main themes that came out for me, were around self acceptance and believing you’re enough no matter what changes you might like to make in your life, the power of mindset and how much self care is needed – because as women we are incredibly good at beating ourselves mentally with a stick and carrying round a big backpack full of guilt and shame.
We spoke about the landscape we exist in now as women – everything from the media’s portrayal of ideal bodies, the impact of our experiences as children and young people, confused messages about what is a healthy diet, the BMI system of measuring health, the diet culture and much, much more. It’s pretty obvious that we are living in a time where there’s a truckload of B*S being thrown about relating to how we live our lives, how our bodies look and function and even our feelings.
The message that is being sent to us in obvious, and sometimes more sneaky subconscious, ways is that we are not enough unless we look like a model, have a diet that would rival Deliciously Ella’s, have sky high energy levels all the time and think only the purest of thoughts. If you don’t measure up to that, then here is this diet / product / amazing thing you can buy for £££ that will help you get closer to that ideal.
The tricky thing is you can know that and understand it, but still be a victim to feeling like you aren’t enough. Often that can manifest as feelings of guilt, envy, anger and other negativity, which FYI, is totally a-ok to be feeling because when you try and suppress those, that’s when emotional eating, bingeing and more can start to show up. See the vicious circle there?
For me, balance is the opposite of all of that.
Balance can be thought of as an overarching term for practices like self care and self love. When self care and self love are the priorities, things like finding balance with food and exercise come along much more easily. When you see health and wellbeing through the window of self care and self love, you can be more forgiving of yourself, you stop being a victim of your behaviours and instead you are in the driving seat. You see eating well as nourishment not punishment, you don’t restrict and go hungry, you start feeling those uncomfortable feelings and dealing with them in the right way rather than numbing them with food. All of those things help to create balance in your life and develop that inner knowing that right now in all your human, messy glory YOU ARE ENOUGH.
At the same time, it’s ok if you want to work on achieving better health which might also mean losing weight if you feel you’d genuinely benefit from losing it. The difference is that it’s driven from a place of self worth, rather than a place of feeling like you aren’t enough when you try and measure yourself up against society’s unrealistic ideal.
And news flash for anyone thinking life is automatically better when you’re thin, take it from someone who knows, it’s not.
When balance is there, you’re not waiting on the weight. You’re buying the clothes, going to the party, wearing the swimsuit, taking the selfie, living life!
When balance is there, food isn’t such a huge issue, and other than practical barriers like recipe ideas, time to plan and fussy partners, you’re almost there.
When balance is there, you do exercise because you enjoy it. If you miss a planned workout that’s ok. If actually working out isn’t your thing, that’s ok too, because you can be active in other ways.
When balance is there, you regularly reflect on what’s working and what’s not working. You understand the ebbs and flows of life and don’t beat yourself up when you have a dip.
In a world where so much absolute bollocks exists around women’s health and wellbeing, this is why I’ve turned towards balance. But balance is a practice, and what’s balanced for you this month might not be right for you next month. Balance is something you do actively all of the time, and because of that it can sometimes need some support.
This is why I created The Balance Club. It’s a monthly membership programme that is priced super low (£9 a month!) which is designed to support you to find your unique balance, and to continue being balanced for life. Just like I found with the reTREAT, the magic really does happen when you get together with other women who are working towards the same goal, even when their balance is completely different to yours. The Balance Club includes a super supportive Facebook Group for that added magic.
Obviously I’m incredibly passionate about finding balance and I really do feel that The Balance Club has immense value in supporting you to do that, but remember, even if you feel totally unbalanced right now, you are enough as you are, even without this or anything else.
Have you ever been on a retreat? What do you think balance looks like for you? In what ways do you currently struggle to be balanced?
The retreat sounded (and looked) awesome. Glad it went so well :) I think you’re a fantastically inspiring and uplifting person. You’re so relatable and down to earth. It’s why you’re one of the few blogs I’ve consistently stuck with over the years. I can’t get on board with more mainstream blogs that spew out all this mumbo jumbo women magazine-style stuff.
Thanks Anna, that means a lot. The whole blogging world has changed so much I was just reading an article about it, I feel like a right blogging old timer!
The retreat looked beautiful and sounds lovely, glad it all went so well for you.
I think there are just bandwagon after bandwagon that people jump on and it’s just so frustrating- it’s why I don’t buy magazines very often (I might buy one for a flight and then remember why I get fed up with them). I think I am fairly balanced with regard to eating and exercise, but my main problem is work taking over in term time, and no matter how efficient I can be, sometimes the hours are just huge and there’s nothing that can be taken away, but at least I know there is a half term coming up.