Today I want to talk about balance, because this is what we all essentially want to achieve on a daily basis, right?
Balance at work, at home, with friends and family. And of course, balancing our health.
If we don’t balance our health, and more specifically our nutritional, mental and hormonal health which is all interconnected, we will never be able to perform at the top of the other aspects of our life. It effects, just to name a few, our relationships, our outlook on life, our energy level…the list goes on. You know those days when everything feels in balance….you are on a role and get so much done! You essentially have not only more energy, but more love in your heart for others.
What if more of the time you had these kind of days?
I am not talking about losing weight, or using a fad diet or a monthly cleanse to try to get back “into shape” and then everything will “work out from there.”
I mean a lifelong journey of collecting wisdom and trial and error, learning to understand your body’s cues of what it needs at specific times and seasons of your life.
As one of the amazing women I will mention below, Rujuta Diwekar says “Eating right is the exact opposite of counting calories”.
We must nourish and care for our bodies, our mind and our hormones in the best way possible. But in a way that becomes intuitive. If this is something we ignore, it will catch up with us sooner or later. Hopefully not in irreversible conditions, but wouldn’t we want to prevent this from the get-go?
Below are some of the amazing women and their books/social media platforms who I have been reading and following over the years who continually help me with my journey. I have become much more intuitive about my eating, how my body feels at certain times of the day, month, year. And after 3 kids I can now understand more about my body during pregnancy and postpartum.
If I look back 10 years ago, at 25, I have done a massive jump. And I am really proud of this, because it has been hard work. I feel almost all the time in control of my nutrition, mental health and my hormones. I have more energy, creativity, a better outlook on life. Of course I get off balance often, but it is much easier to get back on track, and I know what I need to get there/
I must share these amazing women with you, with the even slight chance that you can also receive some wisdom from them as well.
“Eat Local, Think Global”.
I know this sounds cliche, but the Mumbai-based nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar changed my life. I have read (on Kindle) almost all the books you see below. She is tough and to the point on learning to appreciate and maximize your local produce and cooking style. Nothing makes her more angry than modern Mumbai women eating imported granola bars!
“Rujuta emphasizes on a blend of traditional food wisdom and modern nutrition science for a healthy body and mind, best reflected through the mantra – Eat local, think global.”
She always refers to thinking about “What would your grandmother have done? Would she have eaten that food, or cooked it in that way?” She teaches you how to eat intuitively. To learn to listen to your body’s cues of what it needs at different times during the day, month and year. And what exercise to do at each age. How to handle each pregnancy phase.
This is just touching the surface of her knowledge. You will need to adapt her references to local Indian fruits/vegetables and specific way of cooking to wherever you live. I always think of her “Indian Superfoods” book as a mirror to Israel’s 7 species. (Book idea?) I highly recommend for a first book by Rujuta, “Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha”
“French Women Don’t Get Fat”
This was the first book I read that started me on a journey to finding a balance in how I ate. This was back in 2005, right after finishing college with a lot of extra weight and unsure on how to balance enjoying food but not feeling guilty about it. I really didn’t know at that time, at age 21, how to lose the extra college weight, but at the same time get to a weight where I was healthy and managing it intuitively. It didn’t feel natural to “count calories” as it was trendy back in 2005.
Mireille’s book is a tiny bit pretentious in the fact that at the time she wrote the book she worked in New York City for the expensive Champagne Veuve Cliquot, so therefore she wines and dines more than the average person, especially in an Israeli context. (I also had a glimpse into that life back in my NYC days while working in advertising, so perhaps I could resonate with her.)
In any case, the real wisdom in the book lies in two aspects. The first is how she advises to re-balance yourself when you go off track with your eating which she calls “recasting”. I still use this word almost 15 years later. She makes this Magical Leek soup to get herself back on schedule, which of course can get re-adapted to your local tastes. My “recasting” meal has ended up being green lentils and rice, or Mujadara.
The second is she strongly proposes not only to sit at a table while eating, with no distractions, but also to be aware of your silverware and place setting. Use dishes you love, that bring you joy in the Marie Kondo sense. With this practice, over time you will intuitively eat less, more calmly and enjoy every bit of your food and surroundings. She also explains on how its been proven that after two or three bites of chocolate, if you pay attention, your satisfaction starts to drop that you wouldn’t even want the whole bar in one sitting.
Alisa Vitti & Flo Living
I only recently came across Alisa Vitti from a podcast with Garance Dore called “Reclaiming our Hormonal Destiny”. I wish I would have known about her years ago. She is an expert on, well, hormones and the relationship food and hormones have with each other. She has successfully healed thousands of women from a variety of hormonal disorders such as PCOS, and has created a community and app called Flo living.
For example, the description of her app: “Alisa explains how you can use the 4 phases of your cycle for greater productivity, creativity, and success without burning yourself out or compromising your health or hormones .”
I just finished this one on “How to optimize your hormones every decade” (who knew that now at 35 I am just beginning Perimenopause which lasts 20 years!) and am in the middle of “The hormone-gut connection”.
Again, this is just touching the surface. I am just starting to use the knowledge I am learning from Alisa. Stay tuned. 🙂
“Creative Living beyond Fear”
I will assume everyone has read the infamous 2006 book on finding balance, Eat, Pray and Love. You might have not followed her since, but I really connected with her 2015 book “Creative Living beyond Fear” which I happened to read right after I gave birth to my second son. Elizabeth encourages the reader, and in a way, gives the reader permission to be creative! You might be thinking, why do I need Elizabeth Gilbert’s permission to be creative?
Many of us, especially after motherhood and multiple children come into our lives, we lose sight of who we are, or what even drives us to be creative. Or, perhaps we never grew up in a creative environment or thought that if we don’t paint, photograph, or write we are not creative.
Well, according to Gilbert, this is not the case. We are not only all creative beings, but we have permission all through our lives to let this creativity out and be uniquely ours! And of course this permission only comes from within. Also, we should not be afraid if someone is doing the exact same thing as we do. The world has not yet seen this specific creative output done by you, from your own perspective. And as far as mental health is concerned, being creative, in your own unique way, even for only an hour a week, does wonders for our mental health. I invite you to dive into this one. I actually contribute starting Modest Jerusalem to Elizabeth Gilbert, so thank you!
“Girl, wash your face”
Rachel Hollis and her husband Dave are social media stars! In case that turns you off, they are so down to earth and have a modern, spiritual side to them which makes them very broad reaching and popular. Rachel has a wonderful, motivating podcast called “Rise” which covers many aspects of starting your own business and taking control of your future, and another podcast with her husband called “Rise Together” in which they talk about, well, almost anything to do with marriage. They are married 14 years with 4 kids and are brutally honest with each other. It’s great.
“Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be” is light read but definitely inspiring and easy to relate, especially for mothers. In each chapter she presents you with different lies you believe about yourself such as “I’m Not Good Enough”, “I’m Not a Good Mom ” or “I Am Defined by My Weight” and she shares her personal story through these issues and how she moved past them and eventually stops believing them. And with all this, she has a lot of faith in G-d and is not afraid to use her faith as a reason for certain mindsets in her personal journey. The book is humbly powerful and can motivate you to think about yourself differently and be proud of who you are and where you are headed. I believe her newest book is coming out this week which I haven’t downloaded a Kindle sample yet called, “Girl, Stop Apologizing”.
So now what?
Step by step. I am just touching the surface here!
Balancing your health is a lifelong journey. As women we go through so many physical, mental and hormonal changes in our lives. Gd willing at 35 I am not even at the halfway point yet.
We should at least strive for a place to be in control of our nutritional, mental and hormonal health in order to get ourselves back on track when things don’t go smoothly. And of course, when does life ever go smooth?
We need to take the reign of balancing our health in our own hands and not in anyone else’s. No fad diets, no skipping breakfast, no making excuses not to exercise or drink water. Being aware when you are in balance and off balance. Always striving for that center.
Please do comment and share any other women who have helped you balance your health, I would love to hear.
(*P.S. & perhaps the motivation for this post: Israel was just named the 10th healthiest country in the world in 2019. Let’s bring it up to #5!)