As a verb, balance is defined as: “to keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall”. As a noun, balance is defined as: “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.” When it comes to my new series “A Balanced Life” I have chosen a few lovely ladies to feature that I believe embody what it means to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. These women inspire me to keep buying organically (even if it is more expensive and some people just don’t get it), to keep working out (even if it is the first time in my life I am getting fit in a healthy way) and to keep up the positive attitude and energy.
My first interview is with an old high school friend, Joanna, who has traveled the world, seen the most beautiful places and experienced jaw-dropping and mind blowing adventures yet, like me, she too once suffered for many years with an eating disorder. Thankfully, Joanna is now on the other side and did not let the disorder destroy or kill her. She is a great inspiration to me for her hard work on recovery and keeping a balanced life.
TSSB: What does a Balanced Life mean to you?
Joanna: A balanced life to me means being able to eat to fuel my body for the level of activity I perform on a daily basis. I am a runner and I live an extremely busy and active lifestyle in New York City with a huge goal of running the NYC Marathon this fall, in order to be able to run that distance and train properly, I need to be fueling my body correctly. For me, balance means having a pretty set routine, I simply do better when I plan ahead in terms of my weekly training routine, meals and going out on the weekends. I think we as a society have an issue with moderation and we are either over-restricting ourselves in all aspects of our life or we are completely over-indulging. For many women, myself included, who have struggled with an eating disorder, disordered eating or any kind of unhealthy relationship with exercise and/or food, finding balance is an incredibly difficult thing to achieve. After developing a very debilitating eating disorder in high school, which continued throughout college and into my early twenties, I couldn’t actually remember a time when I felt truly balanced in my life. I made some major lifestyle changes at the end of 2014 and really focused on how I can maintain a healthy weight, have a better relationship with food and exercise, and actually indulge in moderation without feeling guilty or slipping back into eating disorder symptoms. I simply became sick of being sick and really sad that for over ten years my life was controlled by my eating disorder. In the end, the hard work and months of effort paid off and I started to actually feel balanced in every aspect of my life. As difficult as some days and weeks are to stay on track with my recovery and stay balanced in all aspects of my life, I am finally present and enjoying my life, my family and my friends instead of being consumed by an illness.
TSSB: Do you have an AM and PM routine that contributes to your balanced life?
Joanna: Absolutely! I have a big white board in my room with a Monday-Friday list of my daily workouts/training sessions, I also keep this schedule in my IPhone Calendar. Every evening I pack a bag with whatever I need for my day in terms of clothes/shoes and I lay out my workout clothing for the morning so I can simply wake up and have everything ready. I chose a gym that was midway between my apartment and my job so I can shower and get myself ready for my day after class and then walk to work. A few times during the week in the evenings, I will either take a yoga class to decompress or have training sessions for running so, I will typically take note of this the night before and pack my gym bag accordingly. The more organized I am in terms of my weekly schedule, the better I do mentally and physically. Finding a routine and a schedule that works for my goals and lifestyle was really key to staying balanced and healthy.
TSSB: What is your definition of self-love and positive body image?
Joanna: This is a difficult question as I think often when women recover from an eating disorder the last part of recovery is self-love and embracing a positive body-image. My definition of self-love and a positive body image, that I still have yet to master, is not thinking or speaking negatively about your body and appreciating your body for all that it allows you to do on a daily basis. I also feel that self-love is really being able to accept, believe and take compliments from others. When I am struggling with really debilitating thoughts about myself or my body, I like to think about how amazing it is that my body is able to run half marathons or blast through a SoulCycle class. Five years ago when I was very ill I never would’ve been able to run a mile, let alone do the kind of activity I now do and that helps me refocus my negative thoughts.
TSSB: What are some ways you stay active and foods you eat to achieve a balanced mind, body and soul (favorite work out routines, favorite healthy dish/ snack etc.)
Joanna: I switch up my workout routine daily, I think varying your exercises is extremely important and it keeps you in shape. My weekly routine is:
-2x per week TRX/HIIT Class
-2x per week Spin Class
-1-2x per week Yoga
-2-3x per week Short/Long Outdoor Running
For food, I am all about meal-prepping and lists! I will typically sit down on Saturday mornings and go through my fave cookbooks and select two recipes for myself to cook and prepare ahead of time for my lunches and dinners during the week. I do my shopping on Sunday’s and then I cook and prepare my lunches in individual packs so I can easily grab it in the morning and I cook and freeze my dinner in one big batch, which makes it easy to heat up in the evenings. I am very big into eating small meals throughout the day, so I keep tons of snacks in my office and in the house. My gym has a fantastic but very expensive juice bar so once a week I will treat myself to a Matcha Shake, which is pretty fantastic to have on my walk to work!
I do not eat out often but when I do, I actually use that time to indulge and not be so rigid in terms of my eating, I am still conscious of what I am putting in my body, but if I want to have a glass of wine or two, I will absolutely go for it.
My Lunch ‘Box’ This Week:
-Steamed Kale and Broccoli
-1 Hardboiled Egg
-1 Grilled Chicken Breast
My ‘Go-To’ Snacks:
-Individual Skinny Pop Popcorn Bags
-Individual Pretzel Bags
-Organic String Cheese
-Sliced Green Apples and Peanut Butter
-Baby Carrots/Celery Sticks and Hummus
-Protein Powder/Almond Milk/Peanut Butter Shake
-Oh She Glows
-Against All Grains
-It’s All Good
TSSB: Words to live by/ favorite quote that has to do with positivity, good vibes or positive body image.
Joanna: ‘Running reminds you that even in your weakest moments, you are strong.’
‘and I said to my body softly, “I want to be your friend.” it took a long breath and replied, “I have been waiting my whole life for this” -Nayyirah Waheed
If you want to follow Joanna and continue to be inspired by her journey, then click here
to follow her on Instagram!
Stay tuned next Saturday to see our next Balanced Babe of the week!