How I Do It

by Holly on April 11, 2011

in balance,breakfast,dinner,healthy tips,lunch

A really sweet reader emailed me a week ago asking, “How do you do it?”

My first thought was, do what?

Post inappropriate, booty dancing pictures of myself without batting an Everythingtarian eye?

Drive five hours back to Madison hungover without flying into a blind rage when it took me 45 minutes to drive one mile in rural Wisconsin?

Manage to leave my keys in the door lock all night and arrive 1/2 hour late to work this morning because that’s how long it took me to discover I had in forgotten about them yesterday when I brought in groceries?

Easy…I’m a shameless {sometimes} idiot.

In reality however, I think she was inquiring about a much bigger question, one I get asked time after time: how did you find a healthy food, exercise + life balance?

This question is of course much more complex and difficult to answer but seemingly appropriate given the indulgent (ahem, drunken) weekend I’ve just had. While I don’t have a clear cut answer on how to tell YOU how to find a happy medium that works for YOU, I can tell you a couple things that keep me balanced, sane and enjoying life…

First, peanut butter + banana toast on Ezekiel bread with a sprinkle of cinnamon and washed down with a vat of coffee always starts my day off on the right foot. Always.

Second, when I know I’ve had a bit too much fun (Bacardi + Diet Coke? Dancing until 2am? 5 hours of sleep? Hilarious Facebook photo evidence?), I try extra hard to eat lots of vegetables, drink water and exercise. In fact, today I went through 2 kombuchas, 2 Nalgenes of water, a ginormous salad and an endorphin-boosting 6-mile run.

I feel better already.

Third, if step two doesn’t happen as planned, please please please PLEASE do not fret. I cannot even begin to tell you about the hours upon hours I have wasted moaning about eating something unhealthy, skipping a workout, obsessing over a slight weight gain or drinking too much at happy hour to Mama Everythingtarian on the phone.

Trust me: WASTE OF TIME.

And your mom will thank you too.

Fourth, cut yourself some slack. Seriously. We, as an on-the-go, how-do-I-fit-30-hours-of-work-into-a-24-hour-day? society, pack our lives with so many things it is nearly impossible to make every meal at home from scratch, drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day, eat the recommended amount of fruits + vegetables a day, workout on the regular and still maintain our sanity.

Too much beer will be imbibed. Ice cream may be eaten for dinner. Weeks may pass without any workout whatsoever. Meditation may be something you read about in Eat Pray Love, not something you actually have time to do.

And ya know what?

Life. Goes. On.

Fifth, it’s SO much easier to eat healthy, workout and maintain a high-quality existence if you surround yourself with things + people that enhance your life.

Stock your fridge with veggies. Keep a gym class schedule on your refrigerator. Find a workout buddy and hold each other accountable. Take 20 minutes to plan meals for the week. Schedule frozen yogurt dates with friends to catch-up. Call your family just to chat. Keep Coconut Bliss coconut milk ice cream in your freezer at all times.

Then, drinking kombucha and eating two runny eggs over garlic-encrusted potato wedges + sauteed spinach for dinner is made much easier.

Sixth, and perhaps most importantly, don’t take yourself too seriously.

And that my friends, is how I do it.

How do YOU do it? Finding balance isn’t easy, so let’s help each other out – sharing is caring!


VeggieGirl April 11, 2011 at 9:31 pm

You are amazing. That is all. :D

Danielle April 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I just love the way you do it. I’d say I try to live with a similar approach, too. Let’s “do it” together time soon, okay?

Jessica April 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm

I am in the same boat. Lots of fruits, veggies, and water were in order today. I also find spontaneous dance parties make for great exercise so my weekend shenanigans are also part fitness.

lora April 11, 2011 at 9:59 pm

this is the perfect post for me after the weekend from hell…omg but ur right about everything…dont worry if u cant work out or eat fries at 5am :) life is so unpredictable that for me, planning is the ultimate waste of time …… going with the flow and trying our best is all we should do.


sarah (sarah learns) April 11, 2011 at 10:11 pm

i love you. that’s all…

Gavi @ GaviGetsGoing! April 11, 2011 at 10:21 pm

I love this post–thanks so much for sharing how you create balance in your life. I find that I feel my best when I eat healthfully, exercise regularly, work hard professionally, and spend lots of quality time outdoors with the people I love. It’s hard to do it all, but I agree with you–it’s so important to surround yourself with the people and things that allow you to be successful. I always try to remind myself that one can never have too many good friends or too many good laughs!

Lauren April 11, 2011 at 11:09 pm

I really love this post (like everyone has said) and totally appreciate the fact that you share the importance of giving yourself a break. I forget to give myself some slack sometimes after eating or drinking something that isn’t the best of things.

How do I do it? Honestly… yoga and rock climbing. My yoga mat always feels like home and my love of rock climbing keeps me in balance. I love these two things as if they were my children and they keep me going. Having a shitty day? roll out the yoga mat or head to the gym and climb for a while. Food saves me too. Not just eating but cooking. Some people say that you have to cook with love to make anything worth while but sometimes, my angry cooking is way better!

Finally, the much needed Saturday night Roller Derby date with my sister where we drank beer, ate pretzels with nacho cheese and watched tattooed chicks kick the crap out of each other on skates. Yea, that keeps me in balance too :)

Rachel @ Grateful Girl Goes Gluten Free April 11, 2011 at 11:24 pm

I never had to do the balance thing until college. I agree with all your suggestions! The way I keep myself sane is to keep reminding myself college is the time to be extremely busy (work part-time, be involved/an officer of 5 student orgs, train for a half marathon, be a good girlfriend and friend, and be a full time pre-dietetics student at an awesome university) because I’m young and can handle it!

megan @ the oatmeal diaries April 11, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Just had to let you know… BEST POST EVER.

Brenna [fabuleuxdestin] April 12, 2011 at 1:21 am

Yeah girl!

Kristen - Anywhere There's An Airport April 12, 2011 at 2:52 am

In the good U.S. of A. I lead quite the structured life. And I liked it that way! Moving to España has made me much more relaxed! Perhaps it’s the 3 hour wined included lunches. You said it best… life.goes.on.

I will be interested to see which side of me wins when we move back to the states… until then… the tapas must go on!

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 12, 2011 at 4:39 am

I am the first to admit that “balance” is not easy or does not happen as FT working mom. I have me, my house, my child, my job, my blog, my friends, my exercise, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and oh yes, working FT and being a FT mom. Where is the balance in that? There isn’t any! But when I am 75 I will look back at these years and be proud that I did the best I could and gave 110% to it all :)

Emma (Namaste Everyday) April 12, 2011 at 4:49 am

honestly, all I do is tell myself that I am healthy. Tell myself that I am capable of making healthy choices. Tell myself that I am capable of doing anything. You can convince yourself almost anything!

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table April 12, 2011 at 5:47 am

Lol! Your hangover cure and my hangover cure should hang out sometime.

I totally subscribe to not taking yourself too seriously. To loosely quote Gia: this is earth not heaven. You don’t have to be perfect.

Lauren April 12, 2011 at 5:49 am

I could have answered this for her! How do you do it? Why you are simply amazing, that’s how! :) Love you girl.

Amy B @ Second City Randomness April 12, 2011 at 6:03 am

I definitely think it’s important to surround yourself with positive influences- I have specific people who enjoy talking about specific things that I find important like running, healthy eating, baking, etc.

Also, I always try to keep it flexible. Don’t have time for a 5-mile run? Or just don’t want to? Whatever- just do weights and maybe run 1 or 2 miles instead. As soon as it stops being fun, you’re going to stop prioritizing it.

sofia April 12, 2011 at 6:49 am

i agree on the slack-cutting. furthermore, i think that working hard is essential, but not always expecting perfection. and assuring i make me time to do nothing, and gal chat time to gal chat. you know. important stuffs. diggin’ this post.

Erica April 12, 2011 at 7:04 am

Forrrr sure- I think not beating yourself up about every little “slip” is so key. Balance is just about constantly readjusting to make everything work for you, being conscious, and being prepared.

Sami April 12, 2011 at 7:32 am

you are the absolute best at what you do :) i love each and every post by your cute self!


Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine April 12, 2011 at 8:45 am

I’ve been getting a ton of questions about this too lately, and you’ve hit the nail on the head: you don’t need to have your act 100% together to find balance. More often than not, the least healthy stuff is what goes undocumented, not because I’m ashamed of it but because I’m too busy having fun. Physical health is important, but so is mental health, and those Diet Coke and Bacardis are essential to my sanity, too :)

PS- If you’re into Diet Coke and rum, try Diet Coke with Pinnacle Cherry vodka. Tastes. Like. Candy. Which is both a good and bad thing.

Madeline - Greens and Jeans April 12, 2011 at 9:19 am

Cutting myself some slack is truly the best thing I can do for myself. Deal with the things I can deal with and know that everything else will fall into place.

Elizabeth@The Sweet Life April 12, 2011 at 9:25 am

I really think about balance over a longer period of time–as in, this day or week might not be balanced but hopefully it evens out over the month, etc.

Christine @ Merf In Progress April 12, 2011 at 9:49 am

I <3 you. Keep a well-stocked refrigerator and pantry. Don't buy junk food at the grocery store — instead, get a tiny bit only when you want it, from 7-11.

Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing April 12, 2011 at 11:53 am


chelsey @ clean eating chelsey April 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I love you. For realz. Perhaps I just want in on your extraordinary Kombucha consumption, but that might not be the reason.

Megan (Braise the Roof) April 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Girl, I’m with ya. Having a sense of humor about life makes everything better and easier. If I need to listen to an hour straight of Ke$ha to get through my workout or eat an entire can of chickpeas for dinner because the grocery store is waaay too far away to pick up fresh food, I’m gonna do it with a smile on my face. :)

Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun April 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm

You rock. I don’t think I have read a single one of your posts and not left with a smile on my face. I love the way you do balance…probably bec it’s exactly how I do balance too.

Patrice @ A New Sweetness April 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I so needed to read something like this right now. Every word you’ve written makes so much sense. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

emily (a nutritionist eats) April 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Love. Life is all about balance – I’ve been super busy lately and so I’m not fretting about eating out/relying on frozen meals – I simply don’t have the time to make everything from scratch. Done and done.
(Good Indian food never hurts either)

Jen April 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm

No one can be perfect all of the time. I used to think that I needed to be perfect with meals and exercise every day in order to be successful; pretty sure it will never happen and I have accepted that :) I have learned that a day of eating right and exercise is not “punishment” for slipping off track, it’s a reward for my body!

Katie April 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I love this post (and that last picture of you) – I wish I FELT balanced. I think I do an okay job, but I certainly haven’t come to terms with the less-than-perfect days like you have. Thanks the reminder to cut myself some slack. :-)

Michelle April 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Yes yes yes! This is such a refreshing post and a great reminder that balance is just that, balancing ALL things. The good with the bad. The healthy with the unhealthy. Because after all something that be considered unhealthy for your body is exactly what you need for your soul. Great post :-)

amanda April 12, 2011 at 4:20 pm

you’re so sassy. mmm, and informativie fo’schizzle.

also, those eggs look cute. is it even possible for eggs to look cute? i dunno what it is. they just look all sorts of fluffy and chubby and delish! fluffy+chubby+delish always = cute. rightttttttttt?

Diana @ frontyardfoodie April 12, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Firstly, I love you.

Secondly, If I was a Northerner we would TOTALLY party.

Susan April 12, 2011 at 5:42 pm

“it’s SO much easier to eat healthy, workout and maintain a high-quality existence if you surround yourself with things + people that enhance your life.”

Yesyesyes! When I first started getting into a healthy lifestyle, I found it really hard to find kindred spirits. But I’ve slowly started either 1) attracting them into my life or 2) rubbing off on my loved ones to get healthy too. Having a support system is SO key.

I also think it’s important to take a macro look at being balanced. Not just looking at it week to week. Sometimes I have months where I’m on one end of the scale, and I have to make sure the months that follow are on the other side of things.

my little celebration April 12, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Great post, Ms. Everythingtarian.

How do I keep MY balance? In short, I fully enjoy my (mostly weekend) indulgences. And I balance them out with a healthy diet and frequent workouts during the work week. Because I believe both indulgences and a healthy lifestyle are meant to be enjoyed. They kind of go hand-in-hand, in my opinion.

caitlin April 12, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Another awesome post- this is why i love your blog. It’s freakin hilarious, honest, healthy, not always healthy,balanced, and wonderful!
It’s a pleasure to read! “Don’t take life to seriously, no one ever makes it out alive”

Jessica April 13, 2011 at 4:51 am

You are a rockstar ma lady! I love your advice on how to live the good life. It really is all about balance…and that means missing workouts, eating on the go, partying it up, and then treating yourself right in between all the madness :) Keeps us sane, happy, and lovin’ life. And it’s totally manageable that way–I’ve learned to give myself major slack this semester! My lifestyle here is waaay different that what I’m usually used to, but that’s okay! I’m doing what works for me (at this point and time) and going with it! I’ll re-find what works for me back in the states, when things change again (which by the way, is less than 20 days away….WHAT!).

Ps your blog alwaysss makes me crave some delicious toast with banana, pb and cinnamon. Good thing I had a slice for “dessert” last night! And breakfast the other day :)

Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather April 13, 2011 at 9:29 am

You are too funny! Not being too seriously or stressing out is the only way I stay sane. I haven’t worked out in a whole and usually that would drive me crazy. Now I just roll with it and get it in when I can.

Megan (The Runner's Kitchen) April 13, 2011 at 11:38 am

Excellent, down-to-earth advice as always, my friend :) I, too, try to load up on the veg and water (or herbal tea) after some less than healthy days, but also think that sometimes choosing happy hour over the gym is a necessary part of a balanced life. Life without beer or wine? Not worth living, eh? Keep on doin’ what you’re doin’.

Charlotte April 13, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I love you, Hol! I am so sorry we were not able to meet up this weekend. I miss you mucho!

On another note…have you watched extreme couponing?

Jen April 13, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Love the black and white photos!

Kaleigh April 13, 2011 at 11:20 pm

I completely agree that you can’t keep beating yourself up on every little slip up. Life is meant to be enjoyed. If you aren’t enjoying it because you keep messing up, then you have to change it. The thing is though, you can’t be perfect 100% of the time and you shouldn’t be! Have healthy foods stocked in your kitchen and maybe one special treat for the week.

Vivianne April 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I loved reading this post. It’s great hearing that everyone messes up sometimes. From time to time I feel like everyone else’s life is perfect between their healthy lifestyle and work and play, but it’s not. Life is really all about not sweating the small stuff, and instead just living!

Great post, I love your blog (:

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