Welcome to the Sweats & Balances Blog - The Balancing Act. Here, we will be featuring #goals women and their answer to the simple, but complicated question - What does Balance mean to you?
To kick things off, we are featuring Andrea Levine. Andrea is a former corporate attorney turned health and fitness profressional. See her answer and story below!
Balance is, I think, a very difficult concept to grasp and an even harder practice to implement for many people. There is no shortage of people, media outlets, and other sources of information telling us what we should strive for and how we should strive for it. Even in articles designed to help people achieve wellness, there is advice on why to cut sugar, how to revise your nighttime routine, or which exercises are best for your butt, without acknowledging that everyone is different and what might work for the author may not work for everyone else.
As a corporate attorney, finding the balance between my work life, my social life, and my own physical and mental wellbeing was so difficult that I took four months off work to enter an outpatient eating disorder program. But neither ignoring my health for the sake of the law firm, nor taking time off work to sort my stuff out, was sustainable. What I found worked, upon returning to my job, was setting boundaries around my availability to avoid burnout which, in my case, took the form of some pretty unhealthy habits. Instead of agreeing to be available 24/7, I began going to Shabbat services on Friday night to get a break from the office and clear my head before the weekend. I also advised my teams that I was unavailable on Saturdays for personal reasons. Creating space for myself at the end of the week made the rest of the week seem more manageable. And even in such a cutthroat environment as corporate law, I found that my colleagues generally respected these boundaries, and that I was more present and more efficient because of them.
Nevertheless, after seven years in the corporate world, I left my career to pursue health and fitness, specializing in group fitness and wellness coaching. There was a huge sense of relief in making this change. I was no longer stuck in a career path that ceased to excite me, but there was no shortage of new stressors and, of course, there is the increased wear and tear on my body as I spend more time in the gym. So I still have to find that balance for myself. But now, instead of needing to make time to get in a workout or finding people to grab a coffee instead of a drink, I decline invitations to attend fitness events when I feel like my body needs a break, and continue to read fiction (for fun) in between all of the self-help, exercise science, and nutrition books I read to better myself and help me answer my clients' questions.
What it boils down to is something a psychologist told me many years ago (though it took me many years to actually listen): "Stop shoulding all over yourself." As a junior associate, I thought I had to be available all day everyday. And some days, as a new member of the fitness community, I feel like I need to sub every class that becomes available and attend as many events as possible to support fellow #fitfam members. But I can now recognize that neither of these approaches is sustainable; neither allows me to be the best employee, instructor, coach, or friend. I cannot tell you where to draw your boundaries, or how to spend the time you carve out for yourself, but I strongly believe that prioritizing your obligations, and letting go of the demands that you neither really need nor want to do, is a great way to start finding that balance between what you want and what everyone else wants from you.
About Andrea -
Andrea is a former corporate attorney who found her strength and confidence when she began looking at exercise as an opportunity not an obligation. By expanding her fitness “vocabulary,” focusing on functional training and a variety of movements that challenged her physically and mentally, Andrea learned that movement and strength is her key to happier living. It also helped her build the confidence to leave her legal career and pursue wellness coaching and fitness to help others achieve their best and healthiest selves. Andrea wants to inspire others to live healthier lives by helping them set realistic and meaningful goals and motivating them to do the hard work. Her goal is to improve the way people feel about themselves, encourage people to move more and move better, and help people adopt healthier habits relating to nutrition, exercise, and stress-management. To learn more, check out Andrea's website (www.andreabarilevine.com) and follow her on Instagram (@andrea_bari_levine).