Balance — how do we achieve it and why does it seem to elude so many of us? And healthy — what does this really mean?
In thinking about self-care, I have been toying with these two ideas lately. Truth be told, I am ridiculously hard on myself. For years I believed in the all-or-nothing approach. I set my standards so high, I almost always let myself down. Of this I am sure — it was neither balanced nor healthy.
Thankfully I have eased up on myself as of late and have learned to embrace the “ish”. By that I mean balanced-ish and healthy-ish. In other words, my definitions of both “healthy” and “balanced” have some flexibility. They fluctuate. Every day changes dramatically in my world — in all of our worlds. Some days I wake up to a flurry of pressing deadlines and suddenly find myself at my computer at 3 p.m., teeth unbrushed and cozy sweatpants still cladding my body, a body that has not been fueled by any food or even hydrated yet. NOT HEALTHY, not even “healthy-ish”. (Oh, the joys of working from home!)
And yet, another day I may get up extra early to carve out 20 minutes to meditate before I wake up my son and get him off to school. Then after breakfast, I just might get myself to a yoga class before even looking at my inbox. Definitely more balanced. AHHHHHHH. I did it.
I don’t have a formula I follow to remain balanced. I am not rigid in my scheduling — I need to be malleable in order to remain sane. Perhaps that makes me less efficient? I am not really sure. I don’t have the answers. I just put one foot in front of the other and attempt to live my often-manic life day by day, in the present. I am calm at times. I am confused and overwhelmed at times, too. But know I can enact little baby shifts that make a world of a difference. When I can specifically carve out some balance, when I can be organized enough to create a healthy lunch at home to sustain myself throughout the day, I pat myself on the back. There’s that “ish” again. But when I am still in those PJs with stinky breath, you know what? That’s okay too — not demanding perfection of myself is a far healthier outlook.
What I have learned is when I do have a day without a bevy of meetings, shoots, site visits or long hours writing or editing, it is helpful is to plan in advance. During these moments I can carve out the time to pull it all together. Even at home. Even if it is just for me. I am a caretaker at heart but self-care is equally — okay, perhaps one could argue, more — important. Ummmm…first step, Athena, take a shower. Maybe even get a red lip on. You know that always helps. Yup, even at home. Toss on some wardrobe staples, nothing fancy — my favorite jeans and that perfect white tee. If I am really feeling like getting nutty, I can throw on a statement earring, soak some oats overnight, massage some kale in some miso, and voila, I have a healthy-ish lunch (literally, recipe straight from Healthyish!) come hunger time.
Overnight Oats with Soft-Cooked Egg and Miso-Braised Kale
Healthyish by Bon Appetit
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 1/4 cups nut milk
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- pinch of salt
- optional: wheat bran and flax seeds
Soft-Cooked Egg and Miso-Braised Kale:
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale, tough stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon white miso
- Overnight Oats
- 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
- Kosher salt
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Furikake seasoning and chili oil (for serving)
- Mix 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats with 1 1/4 cups nut milk, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, and a pinch of salt. Use any milk you like: hemp, almond, coconut, or regular dairy milk if you prefer. Stirring 2 Tbsp. each of wheat bran and flax seeds into the mix is optional, but it ups the nutrition and adds a lot of fiber that keeps you full. Cover and let the oats soak overnight in the fridge. (Side note: Don’t use instant oats, which will turn completely to mush, or steel-cut oats, which need to be cooked.)
- Cook eggs in a medium saucepan of boiling water for 6 minutes. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water and let sit until cool, about 5 minutes. Carefully peel eggs under running water (yolks will be partially set); set aside.
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add kale and cook, tossing, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add mirin, soy sauce, miso, and ¼ cup water and stir until miso is dissolved. Bring to a simmer over low heat, partially cover, and cook until kale is tender, 5–10 minutes.
- Divide oats and yogurt among bowls, spooning yogurt into centers. Spoon kale mixture along with juices over yogurt, then place an egg on top. Season eggs with salt, then top with scallions and furikake. Drizzle with chili oil.
- Do Ahead: Eggs can be boiled 3 days ahead (do not peel); cover and chill. Braised kale can be made 4 days ahead; cover and chill.