Sometimes we get sick of our own voices, so we introduce people we love who have great information to share. As you know, balance is our theme this month. Meet Jessica Mishra of www.beamingwithhealthsf.com. She is a friend and fellow San Franciscan to Megan. This girl knows a thing or two about balance – and best of all, she keeps it real!

Balance: let me be honest here, in my life this has been one of my biggest struggles. To me getting “balanced” is one of the hardest parts about health.  Balance is the exercise of avoiding extremes. Knowing when to push forward and when you should scale back. I want to tell you a little bit about my health and life journey as well as what “balance” means for me.

Rewind back to my college years. To say I was a “party girl” may be a bit of an understatement. I mean I wasn’t out of control (wellI guess that depends who you talk to), but I loved to enjoy the finer things in life. Alcohol, food, men – I definitely had a good time. I was queen of the Jager shots. After college, I worked in the stressful world of Public Accounting. Our happy hours generally lasted about 7 hours. Was there time for exercising? Nope, or at least I didn’t prioritize it. Trips to the “candy box” in our audit room were plentiful. Dinners with the client or while working late nights did not consist of healthy food. “Sleep when you are dead” was my mantra. I was young! It didn’t matter what I did to my body. It could bounce back from anythingor so I thought.

My poor decisions/ignorant youth started to catch up with me. It started with digestive problems at first (which I pretty much just ignored, hoping they would go away). From there, fatigue set in. I was tired most of the time. After that, my immune system checked out. It said, “Ya know what? I am tired of this. You figure it out yourself.” So basically, I got a cold about every 3 weeks. I stopped being able to exercise, as I would get sick every time I did. This was a pretty tough sentence for a former competitive gymnast that could barely sit still.

I finally started to work on my health. I had experienced enough and I was totally run down. I found an amazing Naturopathic doctor in San Francisco that was helping me to heal. It was a long journey and balance was still not quite a word that I embraced in my lifestyle. For a while, I was healthy when I wanted to be. Yes I could do cleanses for weeks at a time. However, what I could also do is flip back to the opposite extreme, go have a ton of drinks during a night out, and then promptly get my hands on the unhealthiest burger or some other fried concoction the next day to ease my hangover. Yes, I was healthy most of the time, but I also had this other side I could flip to.

I am definitely not claiming to be perfect, but I have finally come to a place where I focus a lot on balance. Letting myself eat some of the “naughty” foods that I think I shouldn’t have. Enjoying a couple drinks here and there. Basically, being moderate in all of my actions. No more extremes! Do I still have struggles with balance? Oh hell yeah, but my extremes are not so extravagant. When I “fall off the wagon” now, I get back on a lot quicker than I used to. I have learned from my past mistakes, and have a lot more respect for my body and well being. It is a practice, like strengthening a muscle.

For me finding balance was a change in mindset. A newfound respect for something that is extremely precious. It was an understanding that you cannot take your body or your health for granted. I want to briefly share 4 of the areas of my life where I have made it a point to embrace balance including some tips for you if you struggle in these areas.

Food:
Too much restriction does not work well for me (or for most people). Yes there are times in your life where you may need to be on a restricted diet in order to heal, but in general it is best to embrace moderation. Now I basically just try to eat whole foods as much as possible and I pay attention to the foods that my body likes (not following a diet that worked for someone else). I shop at farmer’s markets to eat local, organically grown foods. I prepare a significant portion of the food that I eat. When I eat out, I enjoy what I am eating without guilt and allow myself some foods that might not be super healthy. I love dark chocolate, I cook with butter, and I enjoy an amazing, full-bodied, and fruity glass of red. Moderation is key though (as I can definitely overdo all of these things).

Alcohol:
No matter who you are, having more than a couple drinks in an evening is not going to serve your overall health, your blood sugar, your liver, or your moods. Throughout my life I have learned this the hard way. Is it fun to be drunk? Yes, but there is always a flip side. The ramifications on your body and mental state will always be there either the next day, or somewhere down the line. Enjoy alcohol as a relaxant, but drink it in moderation. Savor the taste and most importantly immerse yourself in the amazing company around you. Dance, laugh, play, be goofy, but do it without the help of too much alcohol.

Exercise/Movement:
It took me years to find a type of exercise that both served my body and was enjoyable. I used to think I had to be on a treadmill or lifting weights at a gym to get in shape. I simply did not enjoy that type of exercise at all. It was a chore for me, not something that I looked forward to. Once I found the type of yoga that I do now, I was in heaven. I legitimately look forward to class. I have also gotten back into dance which was a huge passion of mine growing up. In addition, remember that exercise can be overdone. This is another part of balance. Don’t push yourself too hard as that can have negative effects on your body (including beginning to store fat). Listen to your body and respect your limits.

Commitments:
Here, I am talking about both work and social commitments. Basically, knowing when to say when. This involves knowing when to go home for the day or when you simply should not do any work on a weekend even though you have a couple things you could catch up on. Knowing when you can’t fit in another social commitment. Maybe you just need a little couch time watching your favorite guilty pleasure (Gossip Girl or Mad Men anyone?). I took this so seriously that I left a job that I was miserable at to pursue a passion. Life is too short people, do what you love.

In case you are wondering about my current health, I have moved through most of my previous health issues. I am strong again, enjoy yoga, bike riding, and dance several times a week, have a passion for cooking my own food (I never used to cook), and overall have a much more balanced and calm approach to decision-making and life. Even my moods are more balanced! If you are interested in reading more from me or learning about my company, Beaming with Health, please head over to my website at www.beamingwithhealthsf.com. I would love to hear from you!

My parting words are to enjoy life, respect the boundaries of your health and body, feed yourself amazingly nourishing foods, move your body in a way that brings you happiness, and surround yourself with people that choose a similar lifestyle and mindset.