Finding Balance: Incorporating Self-Care into Your Fitness Regimen

By Justin Bennett

If youíre fighting the "battle of the bulge," your workout regimen is an important part of your week. Sticking with it is probably your best hope for getting to a healthy weight and staying there.

For some people, dropping the pounds can become an obsession that obscures other needs. No matter how important fitness and weight loss are to you, you canít let it dominate your life and overshadow the need for mental well-being and happiness in other parts of your life. Maintaining balance is all about self-care and doing things that make you happy now. You donít have to sacrifice it in the name of physical fitness. Matter of fact, you can keep up with your exercise goals, make time for friends and feed your soul with an occasional self-indulgence.

Balanced diet

When it comes to eating, self-care is about maintaining a healthy diet while still allowing yourself foods you really love, even if theyíre not on the boot camp diet. It can be hard to stay true to a healthy diet if you deny yourself a treat now and then. If you do, youíre more likely to bounce back and forth between binge-eating and dieting, which is an unhealthy practice no matter what your goals might be. Take the time to work out a meal plan, including foods you really enjoy now and then, and stick to it. Eating nutritious food is one of the simplest and most important forms of self-care. It just requires a little self-discipline to make it work for you.

Scale down your screen time

If youíre like most people these days, you spend hours every day staring at a computer, a mobile device and a TV screen. Itís not entirely your fault -- after all, work makes hours and hours of computer time a fact of life for many people. But, you can help yourself by limiting your screen time away from work to a couple hours a day. Use the time to declutter your house, get in a little more exercise, or spend quality time with family. The portability and robustness of smartphones and other mobile devices can make this a really hard thing to do.

Try not taking your cell phone along every time you run to the store, or go out to dinner with family or friends. Instead, concentrate on the person youíre with. Make a point to ask questions about their day and whatís going on in their life. Youíll strengthen personal relationships and feel a lot better about yourself.

Inner focus

Working toward inner peace is an excellent way to take care of yourself. Practicing a meditative discipline can show you the way. Meditation helps you focus on inner stillness and reduces your stress levels through concentration and contemplation. There are different forms of meditation you can try, including focusing on a word or phrase as you concentrate your thoughts and inner energy. Some people play calming sounds or soft music while meditating if it helps them focus.

Start out by trying meditation for three minutes at a time and seeing what works for you. Find a quiet and restful place to meditate in your home, dim the lights and put on some soothing ambient sound. And donít underemphasize the importance of a good nightís sleep. If you have trouble getting seven to eight hours a night, try incorporating a white noise machine or turn on a fan, keep the room dark and make sure you have good pillows that support your neck and back.

Good smells

Aromatherapy is another excellent form of relaxation and reflective self-care. Place oil diffusers, scented candles and fresh flowers around your home and just breathe deeply. Couple the experience with soothing thoughts and turn it into a holistic meditative exercise. You might be surprised at how some scents bestow residual benefits: Peppermint can help you cope if you suffer from headaches, eucalyptus can help you breathe deeply. Aromatherapy also helps relieve depression and alleviates feelings of anxiety.

Finding balance

Leading a healthy life is all about finding balance. If exercise and fitness are important to you, find ways to augment it by practicing self-care with meditation, a well-rounded diet and the achievement of inner peace. Remember that it all works together: Exercise, diet, contemplation, and relaxation together will help you find happiness in all phases of your life.