As most of you know, I teach a class at my gym called BodyFlow, which is an “athletic blend” of yoga, tai chi, and pilates. I love getting to teach this class! There’s always one song that we do that works on balance, and through my own observation in my own practice and through teaching, I would say the balance song is always the most frustrating for people to do. Out of all the sun salutations, standing strength, hip openers, and twists, people feel the most frustration or disappointment when it comes to balance above everything else. I have felt this even during teaching—Why can I do a perfect tree pose on my left side but then fall over on my right? Why is it always harder for me to hold dancers pose in the evening than it is in the morning?
Balancing your body is just unpredictable, challenging, and never cut-and-dry because each person is different when it comes to what their body can do, has been through, and can handle. That’s why in coaching balance, it’s important to encourage everyone to accept where their bodies are and to never expect anything more or less than what they can do that day.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
I’ve been thinking about balance a lot lately. With different health issues and things coming to the surface about how I’ve been dealing with my stress from the past couple of months, I’ve decided to focus in on balance when it comes to my own eating, nutrition, and exercise. People associate 2 different extremes when it comes to health & exercise—Either you’re extremely inactive and don’t care about exercising or what you eat at all, or you’re extremely active and hyper-sensitive about making sure everything that enters your mouth is clean, gluten-free, paleo, etc. We always tend to think that the latter extreme is better because it’s “healthy,” but the truth is that it’s still an extreme, which means it’s still unhealthy. It’s still going to cause us to shift too far to one side or the other when trying to balance, and eventually make us topple over.
Well, I am a prime example of that last extreme. Over-exercising and extreme food-consciousness has been the way I’ve lived the past 6 months to a year. Because of this extreme, in December and over Christmas break, my body was finally done with the imbalance and I fell…emotionally, physically, even spiritually a bit. I was so spent and overwhelmed….but I was being healthy! I was counting my macros, everything I ate was calculated & analyzed, and I was getting my heart rate up more than the average person. That should mean I am more healthy than the average person, right? So why is this not lining up and all the sudden I have health issues?
That’s when I realized—sure, I live a “healthy” lifestyle, but really, being healthy is about balance. The balance of work and rest. The balance of going and stopping. The balance of nourishing and treating. The balance of food being fuel and food being enjoyable. The balance of discipline and grace. The balance of high impact and low-key. The balance of mind, body, and emotion. My balance will look different than your balance…there is no black and white. But when we find the balance that’s right for us, THAT’s when we enter a whole new level of health that is sustainable and life-changing.
So here’s to a year of finding the balance. May we all give ourselves plenty of grace where we are weak and feel empowered where we are strong. May this be a year of taking time to listen to our bodies, to ask God what we really need, to be led by the Holy Spirit instead of our own selfish motives; a year to love ourselves and to selflessly love people. May this be a year of being thankful for our bodies and accepting what we can handle today, but staying committed to always getting better. May this be a year of moving forward and not giving up. I’m committed to finding that balance. You with me?
My husband and I went to Homestead Cafe last weekend and he ordered a big warm bowl of their jalapeño sweet potato soup. On that icy rainy day it was flavorful and perfectly comforting. I knew I immediately wanted to replicate that recipe as much as possible!
I loved using Chobani plain greek yogurt in this soup as a healthier ingredient. Usually, thick stews, sauces, and soups require you to make a roux to use as the base, which is typically melted butter or oil mixed with flour to form a paste. I found that the cup of thick greek yogurt worked as a perfect healthy alternative to the roux for this recipe. It helped thicken the soup and make it more creamy!
I also did this entire recipe in one pot, which made for easy clean-up. You can do that, too, or boil the potatoes in a separate pot while cooking the bacon & onions/garlic to save time. Hope you guys enjoy this recipe!
- 2 large sweet potatoes or 3 smaller/medium ones (the more sweet potato you use, the thicker the soup)
- 6 strips bacon
- 1/2 large white onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 cup water (if you want a thicker, creamier soup, you can omit this)
- 1 cup plain greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup sliced jalapenos
- 1/4 cup jalapeno juice
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 bay leaf
- Fill a large pot 2/3 of the way with water, add some salt, and set it on high heat to let it boil. While waiting for the water to boil, peel your sweet potatoes and cut them into large cubes.
- Once the water is boiling, drop the potatoes in the water, cover, and let boil for about 10 minutes, or until the sweet potato pieces float to the top and are tender.
- Drain the water and set sweet potatoes aside. In the same large pot over medium heat, add the strips of bacon and allow them to cook at the bottom of the pain.
- Once bacon has finished cooking, transfer to a paper towel, but let the bacon grease stay at the bottom of the pot. Add the onions and garlic, cook and mix a couple minutes until onions are translucent.
- Add the broth, water (optional), greek yogurt, jalapeños, jalapeño juice, and boiled sweet potatoes into the pot and stir well, until the greek yogurt makes the broth creamy. Add all the spices and give it another good stir.
- Put 4 of the strips of bacon and the bay leaf on top, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the lid, remove the bay leaf from the soup, and plug in your immersion blender. Carefully blend the ingredients of the soup together until the chunks of sweet potato & jalapeños are all well-mixed into the soup. *If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can carefully transfer the soup into a blender and blend it all together.
- Chop up the remaining two pieces of bacon and sprinkle on top when serving the soup. It’s best served with some cornbread or chips and salsa. Enjoy!