In Pursuit of Health and Happiness

I teeter precariously on my left foot, my toes stretched out and pressed into the sticky mat below. Beads of sweat slide down my forehead. My trainer intones, “one more breath.” I drink a deep breath of air and my ankle begins to shake. I wobble on the edge of my foot for a moment before surrendering my right foot to the mat. So much for tree pose.

After an hour of stretching, straining, and a whole lot more wobbling, I gather my yoga mat and head for the studio door. My trainer, radiating an endorphin-induced smile after teaching three hours of various fitness classes chirps, “Great job, Nichole!” She is so encouraging, but I am not sure it is true. I tried to clear my mind and focus on practicing yoga for an hour, but as usual, my mind wandered to things decidedly less transcendent: papers to grade, essays to write, committee meetings to attend, dinner to make and so on. You see, I am a junior faculty person on the tenure track. And while I appreciate everyday that I have a wonderful job doing work I love, it is difficult to outrun the pressure of all my responsibilities. But outrun it, I try.

Three years ago, after having to miss a week of work for a minor but health-related surgery, I decided that self-care couldn’t stay on the back burner any longer. I reevaluated my health program and I didn’t like what I discovered about my life. I was working out several times a week, but I was basically recapitulating the same Zumba class that no longer challenged or interested me. I ate a terrible diet. I wore hand-me-down clothing from my sisters and friends that neither fit my body or my style. In 2014, I decided to end these cycles: I joined a new gym and met a group of health-conscious people that changed my life. I completed a nutritional training program that transformed my diet and helped me lose weight. I started curating a closet of clothing that fit my body, style, and budget.

But the rhythms of life, family, and career continue on, bringing new challenges and adventures with each new measure. Here, I will maintain a series of posts on my challenges and adventures in food, fitness, fashion, and family. I have two goals: (1) Holding myself accountable for living a happy and healthy life in service of others and (2) Sharing my own story with other women trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance. And while I may wobble and sway, I hope that you will join me on this adventure.

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