Having balance in life sounds great and is arguably a healthy concept; physiologically, mentally, relationally, athletically, achieving balance seems to be how we achieve the state of “optimal” in life. When we find balance we find the best in ourselves, in our performance and relationships.
This sounds great on paper.
The only problem is that I have only met one perfectly symmetrical person in my entire life; that was Steve Pool the weather man. And we all know that people THAT perfect are just annoying.
In reality for some of us the concept of balance feels like a mythical pink unicorn that vomits ice cream and poops sprinkles. Or maybe you have had a taste of balance once or twice in your life and since are agonizing and scrambling to get back there. Along with that scramble comes the guilt of knowing that you once lived in this mythical land and lost it. With this guilt comes the almost ritualistic eating the weight of a tiny human in Ben and Jerry’s while you plan your epic come back.
Or maybe you have actually tamed the mythical creature enough to have shaken such guilt and are enjoying the finer things in life.
Wherever you find yourself on this continuum of balancing STUFF, you have read this far so I suppose I have to tell you something useful. So here it is.
Find your web.
Webs are a concept I learned from my old friend and coach Louie. Lou used to say about training that you build a web of movements that yield profit towards your end goal. This is actually a training concept he took from the Eastern Block (Really strong, smart people.) For us, in powerlifting, it looked something like this: I knew if I could get even a 5 pound squat record on a specific specialty bar (that damned safety squat bar) that would yield a big ol’ squat PR on meet day. If I could get even a sliver of a PR on a floor press that would equate to a legit PR on my full competition bench press. For one of my training partners she knew if she could belt squat X amount of weight for X amount of time and it was tolerable she was ready to go to take a heavy squat or pull and probably PR.
So you see building a web is specific to the individual; their strengths and weaknesses. Call me a crazy meathead but I find when seeking balance your WEB for life is a real thing!
If we are being brutally honest I can be a messy, imperfect little thing. ( I know, coaches are supposed to be perfect with 0% body fat, perfect skin, NEVER eat things that are bad for them and PR Fran every single time they test it.) still… I do find myself from time to time lacking balance in my life. And sometimes that is ok. Sometime you just have go for it!! Lou also used to say if you want extraordinary results you have to have extraordinary people. Champions become champions by forgoing balance for a single moment of achievement and glory. When I was younger, single and running amuck this worked out and wasn’t always a catastrophe. But now that I’m older, more brittle and happily married I know that my lack of balance affects someone else.
Building my web for life starts by looking at the habits I wished I were managing. Everything from food, faith, family, friends, fitness, significant other, house cleaning etc. and then prioritizing the list.
For me getting to read my Bible is a top priority, kind of like my goal of setting a back squat PR on meet day. I start looking at everything in perspective of that goal. If I can get to bed at a disciplined hour (I set an alarm for when to turn off electronics to make that happen) I can get up in time to read and eat breakfast. Accomplishing that goal or building that habit sets the tone for my entire day, in multiple ways; even beyond what I eat physically and spiritually. When I get sleep and eat breakfast, I am more apt to want to workout. When I work out I want to eat healthy and meal prep. If I am cooking healthy food, I want to do that in a clean kitchen so when I workout and meal prep, MAGICALLY my kitchen gets clean. When the house is clean I can’t just let the laundry sit there like an oozing zit on the nose of my house so the laundry gets done. When the things get done I feel less anxiety which means I am more fun to be around which I know makes my sweet husband happier.
None of this is earth shattering, shocking or new to you, I am sure. So maybe, I am really here to encourage you that NOW is ALWAYS a good time to let the first domino fall. If you are that type A personality who only likes to start things on a Monday… who if you botch it you say, “screw this” and eat ALL the girl scout cookies, you need to realize something about webs. Building a web works in part because of the aggregation of small returns. One small habit wrangled even half of the time will have trickle down effect to the next habit in your web. Before you know it you are snowballing towards frolicking with that unicorn named Balance.