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Balance.  This is the concept that’s on my mind as I look ahead to my re-entry to real life.  And it’s surprising me.  I thought it would be weight loss or fitness or eating the right food that would be on my mind at this point, but it’s not.

I guess the reason this is so surprising to me is because I came here to re-train myself in the ways of eating and exercise, and to make significant improvements in my weight and fitness level.  It never occurred to me that I’d come to feel so strongly about the importance of achieving a balance between the expected things like work, family, and exercise, but also making time for stress management practices and socializing – yes, socializing!

Here’s the deal: I’ve read numerous articles recently about studies that document significant physiological benefits from ‘mindful relaxation’ and from social contact.  And while I don’t know whether my T-cells, blood sugar, blood pressure, and health regulating hormones are actually improving from engaging more in these things than I did before I came to Deerfield, as the studies suggest, what I do know is they make me feel GREAT.

When I participate in a guided relaxation or meditation at the end of a Yoga class, for example, I feel more renewed and relaxed, calmer, more alert, and just better in an almost indescribable way.  It’s different than the exhilaration and satisfaction I feel after an intense workout.  It wipes away any feelings of stress, anxiety, or malcontent. It’s like a magic gift, and one I’m glad to have discovered.

Tonight I went out after dinner with a few of the gals I’ve become friendly with.  We went to hear Jazz at this really great club about 15 minutes away.  When we got back to Deerfield, we decided to retire to the front porch and hang out.  One of them broke open a bottle of wine and started pouring for everyone.  I really didn’t want any wine (much to my surprise, as I usually love drinking red wine).  I said no thanks.  They said, “oh come on, just a little,” but as much as I would ordinarily join right in on a round of cocktails, I realized what I wanted much more than wine was a nice hot cup of spiced chai tea – something I’ve really come to enjoy in the last few weeks here.  It wasn’t even like I had to white knuckle it to stay away from temptation.  I really wasn’t tempted.  And I didn’t join in just to go along with my friends. What I really wanted in that moment was to do something that would put me closer to my goals, not further away from them.   I enjoyed several cups of hot tea over more giggles and girl talk tonight.  And I felt good doing it.