Steps to a Creating a Healthy Balance

Recently I spied an advert for a charity stair climbing challenge, its only 1500 steps which sounds like a lot and not many, all at the same time – so I thought I should go out and have a little practice to see what I’m capable of..there are about 70ish steps leading up into the woods so 20 times up and down should do the trick I thought 😊

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any proper cardio, before I got M.E. I used to run 5- 10 miles a few times a week., then when I was ill, I struggled to walk up the stairs in my house without holding on to the handrail.  Since recovering I’m back to strength training in the gym with some made-up HIIT workouts thrown in if the mood takes me but haven’t revisited running town.

So off I toddled to the woods, the sun was blazing, dog walkers that were climbing the steps commented on my madness as I passed them several times – up, down and back up I went …I didn’t manage 20 times and I didn’t run them all – I clocked 12 in total (4 runs and 4 speed walks and 4 walks) and in the process, I got to observe that little voice in my head that both motivates me to achieve and paralyses me with fear.

As a yoga teacher and therapist, my classes and sessions promote self-love and self-care through self-awareness and self-acceptance, but I only know the power of this practice because I’ve had to learn it, repeatedly.

To be honest, even testing out what I am planning to do before I sign up is a massive step forward in self-awareness and self-care – I used to just go for it, knowing I’d complete it because quitting was not an option for me.  I once agreed to hike 36 miles in 2 days (if I could run 10 miles, I could hike 18 a day – no training required, right?).  I totally ignored the need to read maps, carry my food and clothing in a rucksack and exercise consistently in the heat for 7 hours in a row.  At the end of the first day, I was physically shaking and had an upset stomach, but after a few hours of broken sleep… the rucksack was back on and off I went to complete the next 18 miles and no my upset stomach had not subsided!!  This wasn’t even a charity event – it was a just something I said I’d do for fun (side note – it was not fun).

So back to today’s challenge, as I climbed, I started to observe the narrative in my head, the part that does not quit, the part that motivates me was in full force, and whilst she has been super useful in my life, she has also been a punishing taskmaster.  She’s the part that has stopped me trying things that I know as a beginner I will suck at and on the flip side she has pushed me past my mental and physical limits resulting in amazing outcomes and of course total burnout! This part wanted me to run up the steps at least 15 times, or why even bother. Of course, she has done more than drive my physical endurance, she’s been the late-night worker, the problem solver and the independent one who can and will do everything herself.

She’s the crazy bit of me that fears without her input, I may lie on the sofa eating sausage rolls and watching Jeremy Kyle for the rest of my life.  Of course, that simply isn’t true… I am not a fan of either – but you get where I’m going. For many years I felt I was ‘all’ or ‘nothing’, the house was sparkling clean or a hovel, I was energised and productive or couldn’t drag myself out of bed. Why couldn’t I just moderate things and find some sort of healthy balance?

There are many belief patterns that support this cycle (black and white thinking, perfectionism, catastrophising) but all are based in fear.  One way of escaping our fear is to push beyond a healthy limit, which of course, is not sustainable and inevitably results in our body or mind needing to switch off.  This period of much needed respite allows the fears to creep back in, the adrenalin to rise and the cycle to begin once more.  Over time I came to realise that what I did to excess resulted in me getting to experience the opposite extreme, once I had awareness, I also had the ability to get a true understanding of how I bounced between the two ends of the spectrum, and I began my quest to uncover the unknown territory of the middle ground.

My first introduction to this concept was through a Personal Trainer who suggested having a maximum and minimum number of workouts per week instead of an absolute fixed timetable (seriously this blew my mind… which says a lot about the state of my thinking at the time).  Then came Nutritional Therapy training that broke rigid ‘good’ ‘bad’ food rules and introduced the idea that foods have medicinal qualities, that you eat for energy, for healing and of course… for pleasure.

It was from this place of understanding that Unique Balance was born, that realisation that between the ‘all’ and ‘nothing’ is a whole lot of nuanced something.  Behaviours, beliefs, understandings that can be flexible to suit the situation, the day and the environment and still be grounded and balanced.

I had always understood everyone’s balance point is different – there is not one correct answer when it comes to healing and life choices, and if the right way is unique to the individual, it can only ever come from within.

True intuition and inner wisdom are not found in a place filled with repetitive mind chatter, we can’t silence the thoughts, but we can recognise them and know they come from fear.   We can seek to create a deeper connection to our inner self through movement, stillness, breathwork… whatever helps us feel a sense of presence.

Of course, it took many years and many more lessons for me to gain the level of awareness and self-practice I have today.  Even 10 years ago I was physically pushing myself with exercise, maxing out my hours in work as the CEO of a charity, bringing up a teenage son alone without financial or emotional support, trying to sustain my side-hustle and true passion as a nutritional therapist and dealing with other life stresses that are too complex and personal to include. So, it makes sense my body and mind created symptoms of M.E./C.F.S. and made me stop.  6 years of illness forced me to learn much more about this driven part of me, I had to understand her true origins and most importantly I had to learn to love myself when I could no longer achieve, I had to accept myself being unproductive, physically weak, and emotionally battered and know none of that mattered.

Over time I cultivated a relationship with a different inner voice, one that brings compassionate challenge alongside encouragement and reassurance.  This voice reminds me consistency is more important than intensity.  It highlights when schedules become too busy, and rest is needed – as well as giving me a gentle nudge to get myself in gear if procrastination sets in, its not perfect and that is the point… it shouldn’t be.

These days all my work is built on the foundation of helping others to connect with their own inner wisdom.  Whether it is through yoga (movement and breath) hypnotherapy (reframing and repatterning) or nutritional therapy (cleansing and nourishing), there are many routes to deepening self-awareness and building greater self-trust and for me there is nothing more satisfying than watching a person literally light themselves up from the inside out.


“People think that what’s important is that the world sees them, understands them, values them. That’s not what’s important. What’s important is that you see yourself, you understand yourself, and that you value yourself.”

― C. JoyBell C

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