Why? Searching for Healthy Balance!

There’s a lot of good eating in CLE, dear readers. As you’ve seen chronicled here and on other CLE blogs, we have some world-class chefs, cool restaurants, and fun events centered around food. We also have weather that, to put it mildly, doesn’t always inspire me to go outside. Searching for a healthy balance between dining out as often as I do and staying fit and healthy is something I find myself working on fairly often. I thought I’d share my story, in case you find yourself searching for the same sort of balance.

For most of my life, I was overweight. I wasn’t an overly athletic or coordinated person. In high school, I was on the Speech and Debate team, not the Volleyball team. I didn’t find a balance between being involved in more sedentary extracurriculars and my love of Oreos. The balance just kept tipping further toward unhealthiness. I was completely unhappy with how I looked, but the problem seemed insurmountable. I tried to make up for it – I worked hard to be the funniest or the smartest – but all the while the balance just kept tipping.

Me (on the left) just before my 21st Birthday

In grad school, I finally decided I had enough. I wanted to find balance. I joined Weight Watchers, stuck to the program, started working out religiously, and the weight started coming off. It was like my body wanted to balance itself. I hit my goal weight nine months after starting the program. And then, I kept going. It felt so good to finally buy the clothes I wanted, to get attention I hadn’t gotten before, to feel – dare I say – skinny. And so I tipped the balance back to unhealthy, just at the opposite end of the weight spectrum. Weight Watchers told me I’d have to stop coming to weigh-ins, as my weight had gotten lower than they were comfortable acknowledging and encouraging. Friends kept trying to feed me cookies. I didn’t understand why – I thought I looked the best I had ever looked, despite still not feeling all that great.

At my lowest weight in May 2005

I look at pictures now and realize I looked a little like a bobblehead doll. Belated thanks to those who mentioned I may have taken things a little too far…I didn’t want to listen at the time, but you were right. Less is not always more.

So, eventually I returned to my search for balance. I put on a bit of weight and realized that it’s not about the number on the scale being small, it’s about the number on the scale being right. I’m at a point now where I can eat at L’Albatros and still feel good about myself. It’s a challenge to stay at that point and it’s not at all easy.

Me on my 30th birthday

One of my biggest difficulties in the search for balance is finding a fun and engaging way to stay in shape. As I said, I’m not super athletic or overly coordinated. By nature, I default to being more sedentary. So, how do I keep myself in a healthy balance? I’ve tried a lot of new things and found inspiration and ideas from folks like Hungry in Cleveland, Poise in Parma, MojaMala2, Healthy Heddleston, and Finishing Firsts.

I did the Couch to 5K program this past winter and, while I ultimately decided running isn’t the right fit for me, I completed the program and ran 2 (and a half) 5K’s. I went to my first yoga class ever and fell in love. This is definitely a part of my healthy (physical and mental) balance. I want to try spinning and Zumba and whatever else comes along. I’m open to ideas and new things – all in the name of maintaining the balance.

My point is that it’s tough for all of us to stay in balance. I know there are times where I tip out of balance. But having been at both ends of an unhealthy spectrum, I’m committed to staying at a good middle ground. I’m not giving up my cupcakes or my skinny jeans. I hope you all have that balance in your life too. And if you’re ever looking for someone to help find it with, let me know. I’ll be right next to you in that Zumba class.

***I never, ever thought I’d write this post. And I never, ever thought I’d share “old” pictures of myself. Much love and appreciation for making me feel like I could.***

14 Responses

  1. This is an awesome post and I think you are the most inspirational kind of example there is! You lost weight, but you don’t let that define you! You don’t shake people’s hand and say “I used to be xxx pounds”. You seem to have found a very good balance – so cheers to that and your 3rd decade on this planet being your best yet! 😉

  2. What a great post! I think everyone can relate to this. I’m glad that you are finding the balance because there IS such a thing as too thin!! I think even at your heaviest you were beautiful! I think that health and not extreme skinniness should always be the goal.

  3. What a great post. It took a few reads to get through the whole thing without tearing up. I do remember one summer or Christmas when you are home from grad school and I felt like I was going to break you when I hugged you. You have come so far since then in achieving a healthy balance in your life.

  4. Great post. I tend to be pretty active but like to eat and the working out wasn’t keeping up with the eating. I have been on WW since the end of April and am down over 40 pounds and less than 10 away from my original goal (though i think I am going to keep going–because technically, I will still be overweight at the goal weight I originally set) but I still go out to eat, I still drink, I still enjoy food. I am glad to see you have a healthy balance of eating and working out. I second Allison’s sentiment about not letting your weight loss define you. I think it’s great that this is only one part of you and not the most important. Way to go! Happy 30th (a little belated)

  5. It’s so incredibly difficult to stay “balanced.” While I’m not perfect by any means, I think I stay balanced by realizing that I don’t feel good when I go to one end of the spectrum. One cupcake? I feel great. Three? Not so much.

  6. Thanks for sharing your story! Balance is so difficult and reading this is really helpful. I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit of running and exercise and I’ve realized that not because of a number on the scale but how crappy I’ve been feeling lately.

    You’ve made some great realizations through your journey — you should be really proud!

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