'Balanced Black Girl' Host Les Alfred Shares How Embracing Change Transforms Your Life
Finding Balance

'Balanced Black Girl' Host Les Alfred Shares How Embracing Change Transforms Your Life

In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.

The Balanced Black Girl podcast is back for a new season, a new look, and a new network.

The content creator and host of the podcast, Les Alfred, had no idea when she launched the podcast that it would result in becoming a part of the Dear Media podcast family five years later; but the best success stories are the ones you had no idea were being written.

The 34-year-old described her career journey as one that isn't linear. Les started her career in corporate finance but, over time, realized that though working in corporate might have been paying the bills, it wasn't feeding her in ways she needed. The depletion and burnout she experienced inspired her to turn to exercise to support her mental health and boost her energy.

"That habit blossomed into a love of all things wellness," Les explained to xoNecole. "I became a personal trainer and nurtured a fitness career on the side, venturing into content creation in 2014."

Les would continue to pursue her content creation endeavors for four years in the form of a fitness blog. That fitness blog evolved into the launch of her podcast in 2018. The Seattle-based creator said the idea to expand her blog into a podcast sparked from her desire to cover broader conversations within the wellness niche. And thus, the Balanced Black Girl podcast was born.

The podcast touches on topics like wellness, healthy habits, rest, fitness, confidence, heartbreak, healing, and more and is sometimes structured as different "issues" similar to a magazine and what is expounded on in the podcast's wellness community and sister site, Balanced Black Girl. And what is a "Balanced Black Girl" exactly? "It's being a well-rounded, multi-faceted person who wants the best experiences life has to offer. So much of that starts with getting centered and focusing on habits that help us feel our best," Les shared.

Through the BBG journey, Les acts as a "wellness-y big sister" who is navigating similar life trials and seasons in a supportive way that makes her listeners who are going through similar things feel less alone with the help of community and someone who just gets it. With her work, Les guides others to their own expansion, healing, growth, and, of course, balance.

"I think I have had so many years in survival mode that they've blurred together. But being willing to make changes -- whether that was changing my environment, leaving relationships that weren't working, leaving jobs that weren't supporting my growth, etc., always helps build some momentum," she said of her journey to cultivating a life well-lived through optimal well-being.

In this installment of "Finding Balance," Les chats with xoNecole about the advice she'd give her younger self, making self-care a prerequisite in everything she does, and what balance looks like to the ultimate "Balanced Black Girl."

xoNecole: How has practicing self-care helped you become a better person?

Les Alfred: I don't think practicing self-care makes me a better person than I was before, however, I now have more patience and tools to help me be a better version of myself. I've learned how to communicate my needs, hold more space for others, and I've learned how to believe in myself.

xoN: What is the best advice you could give your younger self on how to navigate your 20s/30s?

LA: Stop putting pressure on yourself to figure everything out -- nobody ever has everything all figured out. Focus more on building the skills you need to have to build the life you want. Instead of focusing on finding the right relationship, focus on having healthy relationship skills. Learn how to manage your finances. Understand the ripple effect decisions you make in your 20s can impact you later on in life.

"Instead of focusing on finding the right relationship, focus on having healthy relationship skills. Understand the ripple effect decisions you make in your 20s can impact you later on in life."

xoN: At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause and finding balance in both your personal and professional life? 

LA: I think I'm still learning that lesson! But in my late 20s, I had a bit of a reckoning with my personal life and career, when I realized what I had been doing just wasn't working for me. I wasn't having the social and professional experiences that I was seeking, and I had to learn how to assess what decisions I'd made until that point.

By pausing, getting curious, and being willing to do things differently, even if I didn't have immediate examples around me, I learned how to hold space for things being so much greater than I could imagine by releasing control.

xoN: What is a typical day in your life? If no day is quite the same, give me a rundown of a typical work week and what that might consist of. 

LA: On a normal weekday, I wake up around 5:30 or 6 a.m. and do a quick meditation, then practice a little French. Then I'll throw on workout clothes, brush my teeth, and sip on warm lemon water or tea while doing a bit of reading. After that, I'm out the door going to my morning workout (usually either a class or a strength workout in the gym). After my workout, I get dressed for the day, have breakfast, make my to-do list, and get to work around 9 a.m.

I work [the] typical 9-5 hours and wrap up the work day around 5. Evenings totally vary -- I could be heading to an event, meeting up with friends, going on a date, or going for a long walk after work before having dinner at home and ending the night reading a book.

xoN: What are your mornings like? 

LA: I'm a pretty early riser. I'm usually up by 6 and like to spend a bit of time reading, journaling, and getting in a morning workout. I've been doing these things for so long, this morning routine is like second nature to me by now.

After my workout, I get dressed for the day, whip up a smoothie for breakfast, and am usually ready to start the workday by about 9. I try to stay off my phone as much as possible.

xoN: How do you wind down at night? 

LA: My wind-down routine usually involves a hot shower, doing my evening skincare, and reading (always fiction at night!) on my Kindle until I fall asleep.

xoN: When you have a busy week, what’s the most hectic part of it? What techniques or tools do you have in place to maintain your sense of self amid chaos?

LA: I tend to be time-optimistic in the sense that I have a habit of underestimating how much time things take (whether that's the time it takes to do a task, travel time to an event, etc.) so I have to be really mindful to not overbook myself. I also have to make it a point to build in downtime for myself.

I definitely don't feel my best if I don't have a bit of quiet time to recharge.

xoN: Do you practice any types of self-care? What does that look like for you? 

LA: I try to infuse self-care into everything I do. Before starting a task, I like to get really clear on what I need to do and why -- that clarity to me is self-care. Spending time with my loved ones (and enforcing boundaries when needed) is self-care. I also consider my hobbies self-care. Earlier this year, I started taking tennis lessons not to be the next Serena [Williams] or Coco [Gauff] but to learn a new skill and to have an outlet that feels like play.

I also love buying flowers from the grocery store and making arrangements. Reading fiction and getting lost in a story is a huge form of self-care for me. And, of course, the standard practices like exercise, meditation, and journaling -- we talk about them so much because they work.

xoN: Oftentimes, when we hear talk about love languages, it is how we give love to others. What is your self-love language and how do you give that to yourself?

LA: This year, I learned my love language is quality time. I really like having rich experiences and creating memories, so I'm always looking for ways to do that. Whether it's through travel or intentional time with friends and family, I'm always looking to create a positive, memorable experience.

xoN: When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?

LA: I embrace change because, in those scenarios, things can't get better without it. Even making the smallest change can provide much-needed momentum. Whether it's trying a new workout, taking a new route to work, changing up daily walks, or listening to new music, embracing small changes helps us see new perspectives and prepares us for the bigger changes that help take us to the next level.

"I embrace change because, in those scenarios, things can't get better without it. Even making the smallest change can provide much-needed momentum."

xoN: Lastly, how do you define "balance" in your life?

LA: Balance to me doesn't mean doing it all or packing my plate until it's full to the brim. It means being a whole, well-rounded person who is able to hold space for the various experiences life brings us.

For more of Les, check out Balanced Black Girl and its new season here. Follow Les on Instagram @balancedles.

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Featured image by Kaye McCoy

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