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Balanced Living Program Spotlight: Q&A with Jennifer

The 30 Clean (T30C) was born from building a community around a 30-day clean eating challenge. We love challenges! We also recognize that, for most people, sustaining challenge habits isn’t realistic for long-term health and wellness. Rather than a mindset of “off-the-challenge” versus “on-the-challenge” we created the Balanced Living Program (BLP).

The BLP is a unique 30-Day program designed to take a holistic, Self-centered, and transformative approach to health and well-being. The BLP focuses on a person’s bioindividual health code using real, whole foods. We explore nutritional tools like intermittent fasting, ketogenics, prolonged fasting and food journaling to gain personal insight on what our bodies need.

The BLP has another big focus–the Power Hour! We take participants through a series of lifestyle tools, one focus per week, and hold them accountable to a 15-minute daily self-care practice. The Power Hour tools have already proven to be a life-changing practice for BLP Graduates!

For the first Balanced Living Program that launched in August, Jennifer Raczka was part of the initial group. She liked it so much that she actually signed up for the second program a month later.  We had a conversation with Jennifer about her experience.

Jennifer and her family. Photo: Vikki Dinh Photography

Heather from T30C: Thank you for letting us share your story. I’m so glad that you did this. What brought you to the Balanced Living Program?

Jennifer Rackza: At first I was like “Oh, heck no! I’m not doing that!” Then I thought about it more. I have the clean eating piece down. Am I 100%? No. But after years of doing it, I know what I’m doing. I know when I don’t sleep well and it’s like “what did I eat today?” That piece I’ve got down. I thought “okay I’ll give this a try!” Never in a million years did I really think that it would affect me the way it did.

What made you say “yes” to actually doing it? What was the defining factor for signing up for this BLP challenge?

It was getting down to the wire and I had to just pull the trigger. I was like “what do I have to lose?” It’s the exact same thing I thought when I tried the very first 30 Clean Challenge back in January 2014.

I wasn’t eating clean but I was running marathons. I always felt tired and I couldn’t figure out why. I was having raging headaches… My sister-in-law told me about T30C. My husband and I signed up and I got the first email of the list of stuff you can’t have and I was like “what am I gonna eat?”  I was living off of grilled cheese and quesadillas!  But since I wasn’t feeling good anyways, I tried it. Within the first two weeks my husband and I were like “Oh. My. Gosh!”

And with this one I thought the exact same thing, so I had to at least give it a chance.

Did you have any expectations going into the BLP?

No, to be perfectly honest. I just figured I’d give it a try and see. The meditation piece was super intimidating to me. I’ve never been able to shut my brain off. It’s constantly going. I wake up in the middle of the night and it can spin for hours.

Your initial concern was about doing the meditation?

Yes! But you immediately posted information in the group which helped me understand it better.  I finally got that it’s all about the breathing piece. If my mind starts to wander then I just need to focus on breath. And it’s okay for your mind to wander. You just have to keep your focus on the breathing part and reel it back in. Sometimes it’s easier than others. Now… now I can see it.  

What was your defining A-Ha moment of the 30-Days?

Honestly… after I did the first week of the meditation I realized how I’m hot-headed! I do have a temper, and I can get set off easily. I’ve got a knee-jerk reaction… Meditation has become a game-changer. If I start to feel like I’m gonna see red, I reel it back with the breathing piece.

How has that created a new possibility within your family dynamic?

Oh, huge. My kid is a lot like how I am. So we would fuel each other. He’d start yelling and then I’m yelling back at him. And it’s like “how is this even being productive?” Now if I use my words with him then he’s using his words with me. A big shift!

Isn’t that crazy how it really is a mirror?

Yeah. If he says “I’m not doing that!” or something I say “Okay, let’s just sit down and talk about it. Let’s just figure this out together.” Now, I’m not perfect. obviously. Haha. I still have to be super-super conscious about what I’m doing.

When the kids start-up, sometimes I have to count to 10, take a deep breath, and then I can go handle whatever it is I need to handle. Because if not I’ll be in reaction mode for sure. Mindfulness is key!

Wow that’s huge. One thing I admire about you, Jen, is that you stick with something even if you don’t like it.  

Haha. True. If I don’t like it and I stick with it, it opens up my eyes. Even though I’m used to change, I don’t like change. I’ll stick with things because usually I’ll know the outcome is what I need. And that’s what happened with this. I resisted, leaned into it, and began to enjoy the results of it… so I just kept doing it.

What other lifestyle tools did you gain from the BLP?

The gratitude journaling, though I’m not as structured with that as I am with the meditation. The stretching (movement) piece and the body love is something I’m interested in doing more of.

Who were you before you started the Balanced Living Program? Who are you now?

Who was I? I mean, I’m still the same. It’s just a matter of channeling everything differently. Before, I was not patient. Angry. Haha. I’m still angry but not as much.

Another part is learning to let go of things that you can’t control. There’s just some things that you just can’t control. And that is okay. I can see that now and move past it.

So, if you were impatient and angry before, are you now patient and calm?

I am not 100% by any means, but  I am getting there. I will say that I’m definitely a lot better than I was. For sure!

It is about balance and we can’t assume that an integral piece of who we are is going to totally change. Now you have the tool.

Right… use the tools and you get a new outcome!  I’ve learned the key is using them daily, so it does become more natural. I’d like to get to the point where I don’t have to really think about it. I want it to just be my default.

You joined the BLP for a second time. Do you feel doing the program again has been helpful?

Absolutely! I think the first time is just enough to touch the surface. And the second time it kinda helps drive it in a little bit deeper.

It’s made me realize places in my life where I want change, and that I have to be the one to make those changes. What am I waiting for? No one else is gonna do it for me.

The BLP has positively impacted my confidence. And, “I can do hard things” mentality.

Could you say that the BLP has compared to anything else you might have done?

No. Because I don’t know if i would have seen it. Or realized it. Or felt it. Does that make sense?

Without the BLP you wouldn’t have sought out learning about mindfulness?

No, I I would have just gone about my business doing what I was doing, staying hot-headed. Haha. And not done anything about it.

What worked? And what could have been even better if…?

It reinforced balance in my relationship with food. I don’t feel guilty for choices I make that are not strict ‘clean.’ I make the conscious decision to eat it or drink it or have it. If you want to eat your three meals or have that piece of cake for your kid’s birthday or intermittent fast… do it. As long as it doesn’t become a slippery slope.

The meditation definitely works. In  the program itself, you and Caitlin have put a LOT of information out there. Tons of tools for every step of the way to help you be successful for the 30 days. If you’re not successful you’re either not following it correctly or not giving it 100%.

This does take practice and ‘doing.’ It’s not like the Challenge where the first week you know what’s right and what’s wrong. You know if you’re eating that handful of M&M’s that this is not okay. This is more of a learning process than yes or no. It could be longer. 60 days instead of 30!

When you read the posts from people in the group, you can tell there is real benefit from this program.

Yes, so inspiring to read! Just like you… thank you for taking the time with me today, Jennifer!

Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you!

Are you interested in being part of the next Balanced Living Program? Send an email to [email protected] with the subject “Yes I want more balance!”