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  • Mitchell Rothbardt

The Illusion Of Balance

How often have we heard the phrase “eating a balanced diet”? How about eating “in moderation”? It’s pretty hard to argue with these things when you get down to it, but does it really mean what we think it means? Let me present two scenarios:

1. Alan eats a dinner consisting of a grilled chicken breast and a cup of asparagus all cooked in a little olive oil. For desert he has a small piece of apple pie. 2. Beth has a dinner consisting of a large pizza and later that night has a nice bowl of ice cream with sprinkles, hot fudge and whipped cream.

Now it seems like it’s pretty obvious which of these two is a healthier situation.

Clearly, it’s Beth.

Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot to tell you something. Alan is severely overweight and hasn’t exercised in months. He gets the majority of his daily activity walking the 2 blocks from the train station to his office (where he sits for 8 straight hours) and back. The only reason he ate grilled chicken breast and asparagus for dinner is that he ran out of the breadcrumbs he usually uses to fry the chicken in and he’s also out of noodles. The apple pie he had for desert was the third piece he’s eaten today. Beth, on the other hand, hits the gym hard 4 or 5 days a week and has done that for the last 10 years. She lifts heavy, does serious conditioning work and six days a week eats as close to perfect as she can. She does let herself go on Saturday nights but is right back in the gym on Sunday morning to get back at it.

Do you see what I’m getting at here? Balance is relative. You have to take into account everything that came before and, if possible, what will come after.

Take a look at the scale, there. Right now everything is even. You are right where you want to be. Now let’s throw in a bad day. What happens? The scale drops to the left a little bit and you need a good day to even it out. Now lets have a couple of bad days. How about a couple of bad years? What happens to the scale? Now lets factor in that as we age, the bad days weigh more and the worse shape we’re in, they weigh more still. Now suddenly we need to do more and more work to even out that scale. Now you can start to see why Alan’s piece of apple pie is worse than Beth’s large pizza.

The good news is that you can always work to even the scale but you have to realize what it takes and what you can expect. Simply put, it took years to put that weight on, or put wear and tear on your shoulders and back, so you can’t expect to be as good as new in a month. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t see some results in a month or maybe even sooner, but you have to be realistic.

This is where the concept of “balance” has to be thought about. If you’ve spent years eating whatever you want whenever you want, then maybe you need to skip dessert completely for a while to start balancing out the fact that you’ve eaten hundreds more deserts than you should have. And don’t begrudge the fact that someone else is having their apple pie if that person has tilted the scale waaay to the right through consistent diet and exercise. They’ve paid their dues.

I always preach patience to clients. For instance, losing 1-2 pounds a week isn’t a very sexy number but it’s actually an outstanding achievement and is much more likely to result in keeping the weight off long-term than losing 20 pounds in 2 weeks. The thing to realize though, is that while patience is good, you do need to do something definitive if you want change. Sometimes someone will come to me and I can see that starting an exercise program is a difficult thing for them for one reason or another so I will take a little bit of time to bring up their diet. I want to make sure that they get to feel more and more comfortable so they can start tipping that scale a little one workout at a time. There will be a time though, when that scale is going to stop tipping unless they address nutrition, so in order to achieve overall balance they need to do that.

You see, there are two important points that people need to realize:

1. The farther to the bad side the scale is tipped the harder it will be, and the longer it will take to even it out. This is why NOW is always the best time to start an exercise and nutrition program. It’s only going to get harder if you wait. It’s heartbreaking to me but I’ve seen some smart, wonderful people who have simply waited too long to start taking care of themselves and are now faced with the fact that they may never again get to feel or move how they want. If you are hesitating to start something please read that last sentence again. And again. And again.

2. The faster you want results and the more dramatic you want them to be, the more you need to do to tip that scale. Whether it’s exercising harder or eating a salad instead of a burger you need to make a decision and WORK IT! Remember that balance cannot be measured in a vacuum. YOU HAVE TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHAT CAME BEFORE.

Now, maybe I’ve scared a few of you but you also have to realize that the scale can start to tip in the right direction at any time. There have been numerous studies that have shown that people can experience positive results from diet and exercise well into their 90s. It’s really just a matter of committing yourself to it and understanding what it takes to get those results you’re looking for. There are ways to establish the balance we’re looking for so that it can be achieved by absolutely anyone so take heart and get started now!

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach Mitch Rothbardt Fitness at 2861 Grove Way Castro Valley’s Premier Fitness Facility I Help People Discover Their Strength 510-754-7113 Boost Your Metabolism With My Free Report

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