Everyday Wellness with Les of Balanced Black Girl
By L'Oreal Thompson Payton
For Les, the creator of Balanced Black Girl and host of the Balanced Black Girl Podcast, self-care isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a daily necessity. What began as a wellness blog in 2014 has evolved into a top-rated podcast and digital platform dedicated to health, wholeness and self-improvement from the perspectives of Black women.
“I spent a number of years creating fitness content and building a community, but noticed that in a lot of spaces I was in that focused on wellness and fitness that I was one of very few Black women in a lot of those settings,” Les shares. “It made me really uncomfortable because I thought okay, I know other Black women are interested in this, but we’re not here.”
In 2018, Les stopped publishing under her first blog, The Balanced Berry, and went all in on building Balanced Black Girl.
“I wanted to connect with other Black women in wellness and introduce my community to other Black women in wellness and it’s grown and blossomed from there,” she shares.
In our interview, Les shares her personal wellness story, how to make self-care a daily habit and why it’s important to put yourself at the top of your to-do list.
Anser: Tell us more about your personal wellness journey.
Les: My personal wellness journey and Balanced Black Girl are very closely intertwined. I first became interested in wellness when I was 20. I was working my first corporate internship and noticed that being in an office environment and being sedentary was negatively impacting how I felt. My energy was really low. I was young, but I didn’t physically feel young.
I knew I needed to do something to get my energy up and I thought, maybe if I start eating a little better, start exercising and drinking more water, I’ll feel better. I noticed immediate changes in my energy and my ability to focus and I was hooked.
I’m grateful for finding wellness so early in adulthood because now I don’t really know how to adult any other way. From there, my wellness and self-care habits just kept building. After a few years, I became the go-to person for a lot of people I know about nutrition and fitness, so I became a personal trainer so I could be more qualified in sharing tips and I started a wellness blog in 2014.
Anser: What does your everyday self-care and wellness routine look like?
Les: I’m all about keeping self-care as simple as possible. I have what I consider my foundational elements of self-care: am I fed; have I moved my body in some way; and am I at least partially hydrated. I keep it super simple and these things are the foundation. Everything else I do can be built upon that. Each day, those are my biggest priorities: feeding myself; moving my body in some way, whether that’s a home workout or a walk; and staying as hydrated as possible.
From there, I play it by ear according to the day. Some days I have a lot on my mind and I need to spend time journaling. Or some days I’m seeking connection and my act of self-care is calling a loved one. So outside of the foundational things that I do each day, I really like to let my mind, body and soul tell me what it is I need to do.
Anser: How do we create healthy habits that go beyond the physical aspect of self-care?
Les: I was deeply involved in the fitness space and was super fit, eating well, but my relationships were terrible because I put way more effort into the gym than I did my connection with other people.
It’s not necessarily about having everything be at equilibrium because we’re never going to be the perfect person, the perfect friend, partner, mother, gym rat and all of these things at once. It’s about really celebrating our whole fullness as human beings—understanding that yes, we need to nourish ourselves and move our bodies, but we also need people and community as well. And it’s okay to foster these different things.
Anser: What advice do you have for prioritizing yourself and putting yourself at the top of your to-do list?
Les: I think the more roles we have, the more we can forget about our initial role that is individual. We couldn’t be any of these other things if we did not exist as a whole being right where we are and we have to nurture that. Having these other titles, whether it’s entrepreneurs, sister or partner, none of those things take away from our identity as an individual.
I’ve recently learned the importance of really connecting with my inner self, my inner child—that essence of what makes me me. On those days when I’m trying to figure things out, it’s about listening to my inner self to understand what it is that I need. I think when we’re out of balance with that, it’s because we’re more focused on what’s happening externally and not listening to what’s happening internally.
Anser: Why is it important for us as Black women to make self-care a daily habit?
Les: We are here to be full beings. Each and every one of us is worthy of love and care and being taken care of. The way we take care of ourselves often influences how we interact with the world around us. Because the more we do, the more people are going to expect of us. Having us remember that we are whole beings that deserve love and care, softness and tenderness...it starts with us and radiates beyond that.
L'Oreal Thompson Payton is a freelance writer, motivational speaker and author of the forthcoming self-help book, Trust Your Dopeness.