A Full Plate
Monday, January 24, 2011
It occurred to me that a full plate is never a good thing. Here's what I mean:
You can take the phrase literally, as in a full plate of food. It can also be a figure of speech, as in being too busy, or having "a full plate." As I'm fairly new to the Spark journey, I've discovered that either kind of full plate is usually not optimal.
If my plate of food is full, it generally means that I've heaped food on my plate without really waiting to see what my body needs. I'm leaving no room for my body to tell me it's had enough, and I will keep eating without pausing to listen to my body. When I use reasonable portion sizes and leave room on my plate, I eat more slowly and when I'm done, it's easy to wait before getting another serving. There's a forced "time out" to decide whether or not I'm really still hungry. Then, if I truly am really hungry, I can always get another small serving. But usually I'm not. I've discovered that extra room on my plate makes it easier to stop when I've had enough. It gives me the time I need to hear what my body is telling me and respond to its needs appropriately.
I think the same thing is true with the proverbial "full plate" of activities. If my plate is completely full with things to do, it leaves me no time to listen to my spirit, to take time out to refresh, renew, and reevaluate. If I'm always going, going, going...on to the next appointment or task or errand, then I never have time to stop and check in with myself. That usually leads to burnout, or doing so much that I crash in exhaustion. When that happens, I don't have the energy to take care of myself by making a healthy dinner or fitting in some exercise. However, when I leave some "room" on my plate, I have time to stop and reflect during the day, even if only for 5 or 10 minutes. If I need to rest my brain for a minute, I can flip through a fun magazine. If I'm feeling discouraged, I can log on to SparkPeople or call a good friend for encouragement. If I'm hungry, I can grab a healthy snack so that I don't end up starving and then binge on convenience foods later. On the other hand, if I leave no time in my day for any breaks, I will face the end of the day starving, exhausted, overwhelmed and often discouraged. I need to learn to keep this in mind when filling out the calendar and when decidjing whether or not to say yes to another commitment.
Leaving "room" on your plate is a good recipe for success in all areas of life.