Balance – What Does It Really Mean?
I have heard a lot of people referring to “balance” in the last few months.
Finding a way to be balanced… finding the right amount of starchy carbs to eat… balancing eating good stuff with eating junk they like to eat… or balancing what we say in terms of nutrition to what they have always been told about nutrition. Some believe they deserve to eat something because they see others eating it and it’s something they love the taste of, that they need to be able to balance what they should be eating with what they should not.
Here lies the problem: we all are different. We all have different bodies where some systems run better than others. Balance is a very relative term and until many of us realize that, we will most likely not achieve the goals we strive for.
When it comes down to it, what the body wants, what everything in life and nature wants, is homeostasis. This is the science-y word for balance. It’s the reason we sweat when our body is too hot, and we shiver when our body is too cold. Our body wants to maintain a certain temperature, too high and systems start to deteriorate and get damaged, the same if temperature gets too low. When body temperature gets too elevated, we sweat so that, essentially, the water can evaporate and carry the heat out with it. On the other end, when body temperature is too low, we shiver because muscular contraction creates heat. There are a million other examples, but you get the point.
The same types of principles come into play when we talk about nutrition. Like I said earlier, balance is a very relative term. If a person is considered balanced, it basically means that their system can effectively use and manage what they are putting into it.
This is where the differences arise. For example, my system may only be able to process 50 grams of carbohydrates before starting to store it as fat. Whereas a friend of mine, same age, may be able to process 100 grams before it starts to store any as fat (numbers are just for examples sake, there is no reasoning behind them other than that).
So does that mean that either one of us is unbalanced? Am I unbalanced because I see he can eat 100 grams but I can only eat 50? Does that mean I’m eating incorrectly? No, it does not. I know that my body can’t process carbohydrates like the same way my friend’s can, so I have to eat in a way that keeps my body in balance, not based on what other people consider balanced.
The other thing we have to realize is that many of us, myself included, treated our bodies with such imbalance for so long, that our threshold is significantly lower than it would be normally. Maybe if I hadn’t spent the better part of my early twenties downing Monster drinks and Domino’s pizza while playing Call of Duty, I might be able to eat 100 grams of carbs now. However, I put such an imbalance on my body during that time period, that I need to eat even more specifically to bring myself back to balanced.
It’s like taking a scale and putting 100 lbs on one side and having 25 lbs on the other side. That’s my starting point, which means that I have to work 75% harder on one side (add 75 more lbs, for the visual people) to get that back to neutral. Most of us (myself included) have damaged our bodies to the point that staying balanced now takes much more mindful eating than it would have had we not done that to ourselves.
I’m not trying to beat up on anyone. Many people unfortunately don’t know, or until now, haven’t been taught this. Even though they know junk food is bad, they never realized how badly things they thought were “nutritional” are actually hurting them.
So just remember when we talk about balance, it is extremely relative. Don’t get caught up in what you want to do, or what you feel you deserve you should based on someone else’s definition. Focus on what you know creates balance for you personally, and stick to it.
Make it happen!