Finding balance is part of wellness, but what is balance and what are some tips for achieving balance in our lives? To shed some light on how to live a balanced lifestyle, we connected with Registered Holistic Nutritionist Andrea Brown. Andrea is the founder of Balancing Andie, where she shares her passion about all things body, mind & spirit to empower others to improve their lives by making small yet meaningful changes in the right direction.
We were able to chat with Andrea about how to tell if you’re out of balance, how we can live with less stress, and a quick trick that will help to put us in a better mood –instantly!
WEHL: Tell us a little about yourself and why you became interested in holistic wellness.
AB: I’m Andrea Brown, a Paralegal by day and a foodie by night. I am also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist , food blogger & photographer. While kids were playing with Easy Bake Ovens, I was always in the kitchen with my mom being so mesmerized by all the food she was cooking. I credit those early days for creating the basis of my love for good food made with real, whole foods! However, as I got older, I strayed away from my roots and began consuming highly refined food products (like many teenagers). I had a good run but it definitely started to catch up to me. It was probably just the last 10 years where I became more aware of what I was putting in my body and how it was impacting my body, energy and mood. The more I changed my diet, eliminated foods that didn’t serve me, and started actually paying attention to the signals my body was giving to me, the better I felt and I kind of became addicted to that feeling. My mentality changed from just living to wanting to thrive and feel my best self every day!
WEHL: What is your philosophy on wellness?
AB: Everything…truly everything in moderation! I try to make the best decision for my body 80 percent of the time but also give myself the ability to eat (dairy-free) pizza, cookies, ice cream, cake etc. For me, life isn’t about depriving myself but rather providing it with the proper fuel that it needs and THEN adding fun extras to keep it exciting 🙂
WEHL: Why did you decide to become a holistic nutritionist?
AB: I’ve had quite a health journey myself. Growing up I was sick ALL THE TIME, allergic to numerous foods, had asthma, eczema and was physically unfit. Overtime as I switched my diet & lifestyle, I was able to take control of my life again and I don’t suffer from those ailments. Most recently, a Naturopath recommended that I try to eliminate dairy from my diet (5+) years ago and it was a game changer for me. The changes were so visible that I’ve never gone back! After this, I just really want to show people the little changes they can make that can have drastic impact on their health. I think that optimal health is really unique for each individual so following a specific diet or eliminating whole food groups isn’t always the way to go. I want to help people figure out what they can do to feel their best, every day!
WEHL: You have a focus on finding balance – why are you drawn to this topic?
AB: I think balance is huge because what goes up, must come down. It’s science, it’s gravity. Often times we are so excited to get on a new workout plan or a new diet and it goes really well for a few weeks until our schedule gets shifted, or we miss a day or we’re sick. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Being able to see past the methodical plan we set for ourselves is so important because that is life. We can’t always control the random things that pop up and if we don’t give ourselves that check in like:
“You’re okay. So what if you ate a whole bag of chips while making dinner.” Try again tomorrow. Make a snack like hummus and carrots tonight so you grab that instead”.
Being able to to see the path you need to get back on is key vs. throwing any positive changes you’re making out the window for the next time you feel motivated. Progress over perfection, always.
WEHL: What does finding balance mean to you?
AB: Life is not linear so I don’t beat myself up for my decisions. Giving up guilt was huge but being confident in my decisions and then owning them has made a huge difference for me to find balance. For example: If I want a donut…I’m going to have one or two… I might also have a salad after that. I know how to get back on track and I know what my body truly needs to feel its best so it’s not a difficult thing for me. Although it has taken years to get to this point!
WEHL: What are some ways we can tell that we are out of sync?
AB: Everyone needs to know what their baseline is because someone else is not going to know what is out of the ordinary for you but...
Look at your sleep – has it changed?
Look at your skin – has it changed?
Women – look at your PMS symptoms. Have they changed? PMS is not “normal” even though we talk about it like it is. That’s your body telling you that something is off.
Look at your energy levels – do they change after certain meals but not others?
Just overall being more aware and asking yourself internally – how did _________ (activity, person, food) make you feel after?
WEHL: Why do you think so many of us struggle with finding a work/life balance?
AB: I think many people struggle with this because they are constantly trying to do it all. When they are at work, they’re thinking about other things. When they are at home, they’re stressing about work. My advice? Be more mindful. What does that mean? Well…DO ONE THING AT A TIME with your whole heart. Set time aside for each task. For example: If you’re seeing a friend for coffee, put away your phone and enjoy that hour… by looking at your emails coming in, you’re just stressing yourself out and not being present. After you’re done, and it’s time to work, then hammer it out. By constantly thinking about everything 24/7 we feel like we are working constantly but we aren’t. It’s about setting time aside for each task.
WEHL: What are some tips we can implement to live with less stress and more balance?
AB: I don’t really think it’s about having less stress (because let’s be real we live in a faster than ever world) but more about how we manage it. Look at what causes you the most stress in your life. Is it always being late? Reading emails? Your mental to-do list?
Maybe you can wake up 30 minutes earlier so you’re not running out the door with a coffee and a toast piece in your mouth. Maybe it’s getting a scheduler and sitting down weekly to enter your to-dos in to your calendar. There are always proactive ways to manage the scenarios that cause the most havoc and to stop flying by the seat of our pants!
Personally, what helps me manage stress is giving myself at least an hour to do me, which is usually after dinner in the evening. Sometimes I’ll watch Netflix, other times I’ll read or other times I’ll work on some blog content. I feel the most stressed when I feel like I’m just serving other people all day a.k.a. working, running errands etc. I need to have some time to settle down and do something to improve myself daily.
WEHL: How can we find balance with eating healthy and indulging?
AB: Find a way of eating healthy that works for you. I used to think eating healthy meant eating salads all day every day. (Spoiler alert) It’s not! If you hate roasted vegetables, then eat salads, if you don’t like brown rice, then try quinoa. I think experimenting with yourself, trying new recipes and actually enjoying what you are eating, will make eating healthier a habit vs. shoving that turnip down your throat because some article said it would solve all your life problems and teach you how to do a handstand!
As for indulgence, I do not deprive myself whatsoever. However, since I am dairy-free, I usually make all of my own indulgences such as my Almond Butter Freezer Fudge (Keto, Vegan, Gluten-free & Paleo) and allow myself a piece or two daily if I want it. When you make sweets yourself, they are healthier and you know what actually goes in them. Again, I think taking away the guilt from “indulgence” is huge. Food is food and if you have a big family dinner and over ate a bit, that’s okay. Just eat a little lighter tomorrow.
WEHL: Why do the holidays often seem to shift us out of balance?
AB: Probably because we are out of our routine. Humans love stability and following their routines so when you throw 3 family dinners, a bunch of turkey, good food and a bunch of wine in front of us, we jump at the chance. I honestly don’t think that’s a bad thing because memories are so important too.
A little tip I like to use is to eat a little fat or protein rich snack before a dinner. It tides me over and stops me from eating too many appies and dinner. When our blood sugar dips low, we want food and we want it now! It’s hard to think when you’re hungry (or hangry) so try a boiled egg, a piece of avocado toast or the various energy ball recipes I have on my blog next time (my Vegan Peppermint Mocha Energy Bites are my fav!) before a gathering, you’ll feel better, trust me! Plus, don’t forget to drink some water in between those beverages 🙂
WEHL: What’s a quick and simple trick to put us instantly in a better mood?
AB: Look around you and think of 1 thing you’re grateful for. Maybe it’s your kids, dog, food, health but I’m sure it will put a smile on your face instantly!
WEHL: What do you do when you are procrastinating to be more productive?
AB: I’m usually pretty good at not procrastinating but sometimes when the motivation is low, I bribe myself with something else. I promise myself that if I get X job done, I will go out and grab a coffee/go on a walk. Finding something that motivates you can help you get through that thing you keep putting off.
WEHL: Are there any foods or activities that you do when you notice you need a positive shift?
AB: I read a lot of self help motivational books. I find those are the kick I need to get my mindset back on track. Some of my favourites to re-read are The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes and You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. Also getting out in nature is a huge one. I love how your problems seem so small when you stand next to a big oak tree swaying in the wind or see a log that has fallen. Nature is so gorgeous and somehow keeps going through storms and lightning. Reminds me of how big the world is and puts things in perspective for me.
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