The Sweet Spot

I talk a lot about balance--DUH! My blog is called Balance Salad!--and the sweet spot is exactly that: finding the perfect balance. There is a sweet spot when it comes to almost everything we do. Think about all the activities you participate in on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. Are you hitting your particular sweet spot?

Because the sweet spot is going to be different for each one of us.

For example, I want to lose weight. In particular, I want to lose belly fat. I need to hit my sweet spot when it comes to the number of calories I eat; the amount of fat, protein, and carbs; and the amount of exercise I get. You might think fewer calories would be better--I'd lose weight more quickly if I ate less, right? Maybe not. If I don't consume enough calories, my body could try to hold onto fat to protect me from starvation. If I don't consume enough protein, I might start to burn my muscle tissue instead of my belly fat. If I don't eat enough fat, I might feel hungry all the time and ditch my weight loss plan altogether! Finding the sweet spot means eating the right balance of nutrients to fuel my body and allow me to lose weight at a healthy rate.

When it comes to exercise, the sweet spot is particularly important. Have you ever experienced over-training? This is when you exercise so much--with excess frequency, intensity, or duration--you actually do more damage to your body than it can repair. Over-training can lead to insomnia, exhaustion, depression, a compromised immune system, illness, injury, and loss of performance. If your exercise is intense--involving heavy weights, sprints, long distance running, etc--you will need more recovery time between sessions, possibly several days or even a week or more. Your age will also determine how frequently you should work out. As we get older, our bodies require longer recovery times. A good way to deal with this is to mix up your workouts so you do different types of activities on different days.

Drinking alcohol is another area where you might want to consider the sweet spot. A glass of red wine is delicious. It makes you feel relaxed. It goes well with a meal or a gathering of friends. Maybe it's even healthy. (There is much debate on this topic and no clear answers at this time.) But drinking too much is obviously deleterious to your health. Your liver must work to detoxify every drop of alcohol you drink. Overtaxing your liver is a recipe for disease. So how much is the right amount? Just as I can't tell you how many calories to eat, I'm not going to give you a number. We are all unique and this is something you need to discover for yourself.

People who are introverts (like me) might also consider the amount of time and energy devoted to being around other people. While social interactions are essential for all human beings, introverts tend to feel drained after spending time with others. Alone time fills us up again. Too much socializing can leave us depleted, depressed, anxious, and even ill. Finding the sweet spot means feeling happy and positive when we're around others because we're balancing that interaction with enough downtime.

You can probably think of many other activities or areas of your life where you are either hitting or missing the sweet spot. Sometimes we have to consider the needs of our spouses, children, parents, neighbors, or friends when we adjust our lives. But when you get things right, you will see reap the benefits: better health and greater happiness.