Balance Salad Manifesto

"You had me at hello."

The word "manifesto" always reminds me of the movie Jerry Maguire. I'm sure you've seen it. Great movie. If you missed it, you can find it at the library.

I've been thinking a lot about balance lately. Which is, of course, the overarching theme of this blog.

I've always hated the word "moderation." I think probably because my mother always touted moderation as the cure for all ills. Ugh. Moderation is so boring. So predictable. So middle-of-the-road. I'm not saying that moderation is a bad choice. It's probably a good choice, most of the time, but it doesn't get me excited.

I prefer the concept of balance.

And I believe our health and well-being depend on balance.

But balance may not be particularly sexy, either. I remember once in a yoga class, we were discussing balance. And I mentioned how I'm a big fan. Another student, who was way sexier than me, said she liked when things in her life got out of balance, because this was when she discovered things. Really? Well, I'm guessing she probably discovered things like hangovers, tooth decay, headaches, obesity, and sexually transmitted diseases. But I could be biased.

Because I am a big fan of balance. (Did I mention that?)

Balance is built right into our bodily systems. I'm sure you learned in biology class about the body's propensity for seeking equilibrium. For example, we tend to return to a particular weight. Our bodies have a set-point and although it's possible to change this, it takes considerable time and effort. Unfortunately, it seems easier to raise that set-point than to lower it. I'm sure this is nature's way of trying to help us survive. (Thanks, Mother Nature!)

If we seek health, I believe balance is the path which will get us there.

In terms of diet, we need to balance our macro-nutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) so we get enough of each. Can we survive on a diet that is out of balance? Yes. The human body is extremely adaptable. But I'm guessing you're reading this blog because you want to do better than just survive. I'm guessing you want to thrive. If this is the case, you might want to adjust the balance of protein, carbs, and fats to favor higher protein (and higher quality protein) as well as higher good fats and maybe reduce the carbs. If you are already balancing your diet according to Zone proportions (30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbs) then you are in the right ballpark. However, holistic authorities on women's health issues suggest upping the protein as we hit the menopausal years. If you are experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms, you might want to aim for closer to 40% protein and 30% carbs.

In addition, where diet is concerned, there are many more balancing acts we need to perform. We need to balance our vitamins. If you take a lot of Vitamin C, this depletes your levels of all the B vitamins. If you take too much of any one particular vitamin, the others will become out of balance.  The same is true for minerals.

Other areas where balance is crucial include exercise, sleep, rest, relaxation, socializing, play, time in nature, laughter, meditation, and solitude. Too much time spent working out and too little rest will result in overtraining, illness, injuries, and even depression. But too much sleep is not the answer! Too much sitting is bad. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. (The Shining reference.)

Bottom line: we need balance.

Take a look at your own life. Where are the places, activities, emphases which are out of balance? What are you missing? Do you crave more solitude? More time in nature? More sleep? More green veggies? (I kid you not, after a vacation of eating out day after day, I desperately crave green veggies!!) Decide what you're missing and see if you can carve out some time this month for more of what you need. Let me know how it goes!