“Everything in moderation” is the catchcry of dieters and non-dieters alike.
We would argue though that this is wrong.
“Everything in balance” is what we at Real Life Medicine believe.
The balance bit is sometimes hard and what we need to learn and practice.
Being overweight means something is not in balance.
It may be your metabolic hormones. Insulin is not in balance
If insulin your pancreas makes excess insulin and you are storing excess fat, then the amount of carbohydrates you are eating is not in balance.
This is different for every person
If you have sugar addiction, then your reward system in your amygdala is overstimulated and out of balance. Your receptors are upregulated and you have a response to hyper-palatable food that is out of balance.
This is different for every person.
Just there are people who drink alcohol who are not alcoholics, there are people who eat sugar who are not addicted to sugar. However, there are many people out there who are addicted to sugar and for them, the right balance is no sugar.
To tell a sugar addict to “eat everything in moderation” is setting them up for failure. For us, Dr Mary and Dr Lucy, it is balanced to live by the mantra
“one is too many and a thousand is never enough.”
If you always eat to soothe emotions then your tool kit for emotional management is out of balance. Adding more tools is the key to restoring this balance.
If celebrating and rewards are always about food and drink, then again the toolkit is out of balance.
Our body and our mind work best when things are in balance.
This is not an exhaustive list but an example of things that are often out our balance.
Activity balances with rest
Sleep balances with wakefulness
Social connection balances with time alone
Eating balances with fasting
Positive emotions balance with negative emotions
Comfort balances with discomfort
Stress balances with relaxation
Work balances with rest
Hunger balances with satiety
Yearning balances with gratitude
Ambition balances with satisfaction
For most of us who have struggled with weight management, the thing that is missing is not the next meal plan, the next recipe book or the next diet shake.
The missing piece is working out how to find the balance for you.
This is different for every person.
How do you find balance?
We tell this story quite frequently as a metaphor for balance.
What if we look at it like this…
You’ve decided to run away and join the circus. (Yes I know...sounds tempting!)
You’re going to be a tight-rope walker…
This requires balance!
This circus has the best tight-rope walker in all the land.
You want to learn from the expert tight-rope walker.
Your aim is to walk the tight-rope in the big top with no safety net
Does the ringmaster expect that on your first night you are going to walk the tight-rope in front of a big crowd with no safety net?
Of course not!
You have to learn it first.
You’re ready to learn
As the saying “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”
And so the expert tight-rope walker helps you, teaches you, encourages you...
They give you all the tips, all the tricks they have learnt from years of experience.
And you practice…
With a rope of the ground.
You walk up and down that rope and if you make a mistake, a wobble, fall off…
You just keep practising.
You persist. Do you give up after the first wobble? No
After some time, the tight rope is raised off the ground- about knee height.
Again more practice.
Your fellow circus buddies encourage you. “You can do it!”
There are days when you want to give up. It seems so hard. It feels like you will never get there. You keep going. You ask for help when it gets hard.
You focus on your goal to walk the tight-rope in the big top.
You think about the crowd clapping in amazement. You think of the exhilaration. Your transformation to becoming an expert tight-rope walker.
You practice and practice and you’re ready.
You know it. You can feel it!
You’re going to walk the tight-rope in the big top.
At first, you do it without the crowd and with the safety net in place.
You’re up high and you’re doing it.
All that practice is paying off.
You are confident, focussed and ready.
You can walk that tight-rope with your eyes shut. You have practised it so often.
It’s a skill, a habit that’s now automatic.
Finally, the day comes. You are triumphant.
You walk the tight-rope in the big top without a safety net.
You feel amazing.
You are confident about your skills.
You have mastered it.
You are now an expert tight-rope walker
But to remain skilled, you keep practising.
You keep performing.
There are days when you don’t want to but you persist.
After all, you are an expert tight-rope walker and that’s what expert tight-rope walkers do.
If you want to learn how to change your lifestyle...
If you’re ready to learn new skills...
If you’re willing to practice...
Then we are here to help you.
We are the expert tight-rope walkers (hee hee metaphorically of course!)
At Real Life Medicine, we combine our knowledge as medical doctors with our expertise in behavioural change to help you achieve your goals.
We give you all our tips and tricks.
We guide you, coach you, encourage you.
We’re there when it feels hard.
If you’re ready, your teacher has appeared!
Head over now and join Real Life Momentum and we will help you walk your tightrope without a safety net!
Dr Lucy Burns and Dr Mary Barson