A few weeks ago I got to sit down and chat with Peyton from Choosing Balance. I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for weeks now! I haven’t had much time to sit and write these past couple of weeks, but I’m excited to get back into it and share this post with you. The content is related to overall health and wellness, and my hope is that you find the information in this post helpful, wherever you are at in your wellness journey.
peyton from choosing balance
Choosing Balance (@choosing_balance) is an Instagram account managed by Pey, a foodie, runner, student, and fiancé striving to balance, faith, health, fitness, and school. Her daily posts are filled with positivity, fitness motivation, delicious meals, and the typical life of a college student. (I encourage you to give her a follow if you’re looking for some daily inspiration!)
I found her on Instagram and have enjoyed following along with her days as she updates her feed with aesthetically pleasing pictures of meals and plates. Because we both live in the same city, I thought it would be awesome to meet up and pick her brain about nutrition, exercise, self-care and balancing all of those aspects of life like relationships, school, spiritual wellness, etc.
Pey is doing her best to choose balance as an undergraduate student, something I didn’t begin to take seriously until after I graduated. I hope that no matter where you are in your journey, whether day one or year 8, that you find this information helpful and refreshing!
So, here it is! We got together at Starbucks on Truman’s campus and chatted about how to eat healthy on a budget, our love of running, and favorite foods. It was super refreshing to talk about our different journeys and the importance of a balanced approach to living.
In our culture, especially on social media, we hear the words “healthy eating” and “balanced and healthy lifestyle” getting thrown around. Well, what does that actually mean? Though I believe it can mean something different for each person and where they are in their journey, it’s helpful to learn from others. We can learn by example, through conversations with people, and adjust our our perspectives and approaches accordingly. This is something that will evolve as we change.
Background: Beginning to Choose Balance
I was curious about how Peyton got started on her journey toward prioritizing wellness. We all start at different times and for varying reasons, and it’s not going to look the same for everyone.
Peyton talked about how growing up she was super picky with foods. Over time, she shifted to eating what would be considered a classical American diet, such as grilled cheese and chicken tenders. Two years ago, her sophomore year of college, she started to eat healthier and went all it.
About a year ago, she struggled to find a balance of eating healthy and enjoying life at the same time. She started her Instagram as a way to bridge the gap, be open and accountable to living a healthy lifestyle, and connect to other people that had figured out how to balance living life with balanced eating. A year later, she sometimes struggles (but don’t we all?) but she is doing her best to actually live out that healthy lifestyle she set out to find.
For Pey, it’s about finding a healthy lifestyle. While “eating healthy” was previously focused on “eating as healthy as possible all the time,” it has now shifted to “eating healthy because of the enjoyment of eating healthy.”
Shopping: Balancing Healthy Foods with a Healthy Wallet
One of the most repeated objections to buying healthy food is that it is prohibitively expensive. While it’s definitely true that finances can determine what someone is able to buy, it’s also the case that people are not aware of several things that can make a nutritious diet a much more realistic option, especially in college.
Pey talked a lot about how helpful meal prepping has been. She prepares a lot over the weekend and mixes and matches foods to get her through the week. It saves so much money because you don’t need to go out.
There aren’t very many grocery options in Kirksville, but most grocery stores have cheaper options that are still healthy. Though there are options for grass-fed and fresh meat, usually those are expensive, and as a college student, you can’t go into debt to eat the best foods. However, Aldi and Hy-Vee have great nutritious options that are reasonably priced. She buys the bulk of her groceries at Aldi (I do too, and I’m obsessed) and then will pick up a couple of items at Hy-Vee that Aldi doesn’t stock.
I asked Pey for her go-to advice for people who ask about practical ways to begin to eat healthier.
First, she recommends to start with one meal. The easiest way to get started from there is adding in more fruits and veggies. It’s important to not take all things away, especially that one thing you love. For example, you can try to find a healthier way to eat the thing you love or find a way to add it in. So if you need cookies in your diet, maybe find a recipe for healthier cookies or add a cookie in two times a week.
She emphasizes that when it comes to eating healthy you have to find something that is sustainable for you. If it makes you happy, do it. If you’re just doing it to look a certain way that is not a good enough reason.
Finally, she reminds people to remember that everyone is different. Most people won’t give you strict advice because it’s going to be so different from person to person. A keto diet might not work for you, a meal plan for a runner will look different from someone who works in an office all day, etc. You have to find what works for you.
Also, remember that eating one bad thing won’t change you at all!
Definitions: Health and Balance
We toss around the word “healthy” without stopping to take stock of what that actually means. I asked Pey what “healthy” means to her.
She brought up the idea that healthy can look different depending on the person. Being healthy is about being healthy in every area of your life – it’s about paying attention to not just how you look on the outside, but also how you feel on the side (emotionally, spiritually, and mentally), and then trying to find a balance all of it.
Often times, physical health is the easiest because you can see results and progress in your body. However, mental and emotional healthy are easier to let slip but are still so important.
She says: ask yourself why you are striving to be healthy. Does your lifestyle make you happy? Would living another way make you happier? Living healthy is about living a longer and more fulfilled life. If you’re not enjoying it while you’re living it out, do you have the best goals for yourself?
Day-to-Day: Living a Balanced Life
Even after learning what a healthy lifestyle might look like, things can be difficult when it comes to actually applying those principles in our day-to-day life.
Pey schedules the day in advance so she knows what is going on and has a plan. Morning is her favorite – it is when she finds time for coffee, journaling, breakfast, and maybe some yoga! She spends 20 minutes every morning doing what matters most for her and it is an enjoyable time. This is so important for her as she fuels herself physically and mentally for the day!
One thing that helps her go about her day is using her pillars of values. She knows all of her values and that helps her makes decisions. For example, exercise is one of her last pillars in her current season of life so she takes that into account when she is fitting things into her day.
When there’s a stressful and busy part in the day, perspective is important! In those moments, she takes a step back and refocuses her perspective to regain confidence for the day.
College students have to prioritize staying active. Peyton is a runner. Running is her ultimate go-to way to exercise. She also has picked up a strength training program she incorporates into her week, which helps her feel stronger. She does the occasional online yoga video, Yoga with Adriene, and loves going on walks with her fiancé.
The biggest change in college with staying active has been consistency. When she focused on creating a healthy lifestyle that led to consistent healthy eating habits and exercise. For her, exercise isn’t about losing weight but to help her feel her best.
Peyton’s Final Advice
Start small. Find one thing you can incorporate everyday, whether that is incorporating exercise into your day or switching out fast food for a salad. It doesn’t have to be complicated like a “super food smoothie” but just find one thing you can change that will lead to the healthy lifestyle you want to create.
I could have sat and talked to Pey for hours, but since we met right before dinner, we talked until our stomachs started grumbling. Like I said before, I’m thankful for this time!
I agree with so much of what Pey said. The idea that a healthy lifestyle doesn’t look the same from person-to-person is SUPER important. What works for me, might not work for you or might not be attainable for you. I love to run, but if you hate running, then obviously that will not work for exercise. Also, I think it’s so important to find your motivations and your values. Why do you want to create this lifestyle? What are your goals? How can you attainably start heading in the direction for a positive, balanced future?
I hope that as you continue to go through different seasons of life, you are able to figure out different ways to balance. I hope you find your values, and prioritize the ones that matter most whether that is mental, emotional, physical, academic, spiritual, or relational health.