Feature photo credit: Jiang Xulei via Unsplash
It’s been 4 months since I joined Balance 365 (B365), and I am finding the private Facebook group to be a valuable resource. When I started, I was looking for community but skeptical that it would be much of a learning environment for me. After all, my background is in science and I’ve nerdy about fitness and nutrition a long time, and I’m a health and science teacher by profession. I’m also a regular at my therapist’s office, so I’m no stranger to self-reflection. And yet, there’s something wonderful about the shared values and goals of the women in B365. It is a rare place where women celebrate each other without judgement or implicit competition. And I’m learning about myself and my habits, too.
The group affirms each woman finding their own path and supports body autonomy–the solutions for you may not be the solutions for me. What feels good and healthy for one person may not for another. These values are reinforced with little sayings and mantras–”keep you eyes on your own plate,” (focus on your own choices, not on other people’s), “take the cherry with the pit,” (find what you can learn from a bad decision and move on), and “be a Grown Ass Woman (GAW),” (mother yourself with healthy boundaries and with compassion).
Every day, one of the coaches posts a recurring post for that day of the week. Women post in the comments and sometimes you get a little love, or women comment and commiserate, or maybe a coach asks you questions and prods you to think about something in a new way. (Getting the women to advise each other is a great teacher trick, by the way. Every teacher knows that you learn the most when you have to teach others.) In addition to these daily, official posts, members can post their own questions and experiences. They share what’s working for them, ask for help if they’re feeling stuck, and celebrate NSV (Non-scale Victories).
I’ve posted a handful of times. I like to share the occasional recipe. I often participate in the daily recurring posts. A few weeks ago I got outside my comfort zone and posted a video of myself doing squats. I wanted to experience the discomfort of being seen and face my chronic expectation that I am being judged and found less-than-worthy. I have a deep well of perfectionism, and I know that to really find a healthy balance in my habits, I need to reduce the power of being motivated by my fear of how others might perceive me. It’s been really powerful to just get used to knowing folks have seen me doing those lifts, knowing that they were flawed (my right hip slides around and my form can get wobbly). And as a result of the conversations in the thread that followed, I’ve come to be ok with the fact that I’m working on all of it.
In this environment, which habits you are working on, what goals you set, and to what degree you are focused on the work is entirely up to you. Another B365 mantra, “good, better, best” encourages folks to find the solutions that work best for them in the moment, not to just seek out whatever seems optimal on paper. At first, this do-it-at-your-own-pace aspect of B365 can seem daunting. There are always some posts from newer members asking where they should start and how they should decide what to do next. However, I think a real benefit of this structure is that it really forces participants to figure out what THEY believe they can follow through on successfully, and holds them accountable TO THEMSELVES. None of us are watching them to see if they’re keeping in step with some arbitrary timeline.
For folks who benefit from more structure and guidance, I assume that joining group coaching helps with that. However, even when they’re enrolled in coaching, you see women post about goal-setting questions and to what degree they want to actively participate in coaching calls. At the end of the day, it’s their job to figure out for themselves what they need and what they are willing to commit to.
The only habit changes that will work for someone and last for the long term are the changes that are rooted in the realities of each person’s life, their values and beliefs, and that reaffirm what they want for themselves in the present and in the future. That is the work that women are doing in the B365 Facebook group. Figuring out what fits, why it matters to them, and what they can do consistently. It’s pretty cool to watch and be a part of. I’m happy that I joined.
Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher. She can be found sharing her favorite protein-filled snack foods, picking up heavy things and putting them down again in Portland, Oregon.