Healthy Happy Life

Finding Balance

Visit the Phoenix Center at Auraria

Finding Balance

By Elm Alves, Violence Prevention Education Coordinator, Phoenix Center at Auraria

The end of the year is always a tough time to find balance; many of us are making New Years Resolution considerations and preparing for new virtual holiday and vacation traditions with loved ones. In a year that has felt so out-of-control and unbalanced, we can easily fall prey to toxic diet culture and binarist thinking. I myself have often struggled with finding and maintaining a healthy balance.

The holiday season is filled with stress, particularly around food. If left unchecked, the holidays are prime time for eating disorder relapse, extreme dieting, and social isolation. Below are some tips I’ve found to be particularly useful when it comes to finding that balance and avoiding obsessive behavior:

  1. Name your Motivation.
    Oftentimes in our society “health” goals are really just appearance goals. Being able to separate your goals from external factors and to focus on internal factors can create a healthier relationship to our bodies. For example, rather than treat exercise as a way to exert punishing control over your body, reframe and name exercise as a joyful movement that allows you to be in the moment and challenge yourself safely.

  2. Embrace Flexibility.
    The BIGGEST protective factor from unhealthy extremes is flexible thinking. Many of us begin our weeks with the best laid plans, and life inevitably derails some of those plans. The mark of a balanced person is the ability to say and eventually mean, “I didn’t sleep well last night and my appetite is a little funky, I think I’m going to rest today instead of taking on my planned run.” It’s very easy to fall into the trap that a “missed” workout is missed gains, when in reality it can be a better path towards recovery and improved performance.

  3. Explore the tenets of Intuitive Eating and Healthy At Every Size.
    Intuitive Eating can be a powerful tool when it comes to finding balance in your personal health, as it really emphasizes exactly how individual we all are. Recently the Phoenix Center at Auraria and the Community College of Denver partnered around a Six Week Body Positive Auraria Campus Cohort. Guided by Natalie Nowak, RD, each week the cohort would go over the tenets of Intuitive Eating, how systems work to limit individual and community health, and learn to find joy in our bodies. If you’re interested in the next cohort, please reach out to me at and I’ll be sure to forward registration when it opens.

  4. End the Moralization of Health.
    At the end of the day, health is highly individualized and not something that can be fit neatly into categories of “good” and “bad.” Exercise isn’t the marker of virtue, and neither is it meant to be used as a punishment for “bad” food choices. When we move away from understanding movement and food as “good” or “bad,” we can see that movement and food are celebrations of life.
Achieving balance is rarely easy in a society that praises extremes, but it is possible and so rewarding. It’s important for all of us to recognize that health is ever-changing, and that crafting a balance that truly honors and celebrates us as individuals in a larger context will continue to take intentionality. With open conversation, I know we can continue towards that balance together.
CMS Login