Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Great Balancing Act: Part II

Why all the fuss about balance? After all, who knows what 'balance' really is? To me balance is about first, achieving a state of equilibrium, and then about maintaining that state.

A state of equilibrium cannot be achieved when we are obese nor can it be achieved when we are underweight. When you see the numbers posted by medical professionals that state a particular weight or particular BMI as being correct or normal, remember this: The word 'normal' in medical terms simply means that most people fall within that particular range. There are always going to be some people for whom 'normal,' medically speaking, don't fall within those margins. Some people will just carry a little extra or a little less--I am not talking about extremes here--and if they find that no matter what that they can't lose or gain any more, then perhaps their bodies have reached a state of equilibrium with respect to their weight.

What is a state of over- or underweight, then, if it isn't a number on the scale? In my opinion these states occur when you are carrying more or less weight than what your body needs to carry. I know, that seems ambiguous and evasive, but really it's not. Do you feel good? Are you able to move about freely and without pain? Can you walk up a few flights of stairs without becoming out of breath or feeling weak? Do you sleep well? These are some of the things you need to consider when trying to figure out why those last 5 pounds won't come off or why you can't gain and maintain those 5 extra pounds.

What about diabetes or high blood pressure, you ask? Well, these are not always indicative of a state of weight. For instance, even when I was morbidly obese my blood pressure was dangerously low and I was not diabetic. However, by anyone's standards, 100 pounds over the norm is overweight. My blood pressure reached the normal range only after I lost the weight. Same with my body temperature. My body temperature was always around 97.2F until I not only lost the weight but went grain-free as well. Now, my normal temperature is 98.7F. I'm still an out-lier but not by much.

So, how do I know that I am at a good weight? Easy. I feel good. I am able to run long distances every day without tiring. I am able to sprinting and feel good. I am able to lift heavy things with ease and without pain. I can move freely without any pain. I can easily maintain my current weight. I maintain high levels of energy throughout the day. I sleep well every night and wake up refreshed and recharged. This tells me that I have reached a state of equilibrium. Not just with my weight, but with my whole body.

Ok. That's all well and good you say, but how do we get to be in a state of whole body, whole health equilibrium? This, my friends, is the final piece of the puzzle. I believe it is about reducing inflammation, and this is where a lot of what I've talked about before all comes into play and what I'm going to talk about today. Glycemic Load, Glycemic Index, and pH all play a role in the great balancing act as does exercise, rest, and stress.  How we manage these things determines how much cellular inflammation we create and that, in turn, will determine our overall state of health and well-being.

Inflammation is just part of life. It is caused by, well, pretty much everything. It is our body's way of telling us that something is amiss. Now, it can be as simple as you hitting your so-called funny bone, stubbing a toe, or eating something disagreeable. It can also be as serious as getting stabbed or suffering a concussion. All of these things fall into the acute inflammatory response which is a short-term, temporary response to injury. The definition of acute inflammation from the medical dictionary is "inflammation /in·flam·ma·tion/ (in″flah-ma´shun) a protective tissue response to injury or destruction of tissues, which serves to destroy, dilute, or wall off both the injurious agent and the injured tissues. The classical signs of acute inflammation are pain (dolor), heat (calor), redness (rubor), swelling (tumor), and loss of function (functio laesa).inflam´matory"

This is not what we are concerned with, though, because it is actually a normal and very helpful bodily function.  When we are talking about our health and the inflammation created by improper eating, exercising, etc., and the underlying physiological responses to prolonged inflammation, we are talking about chronic inflammation. This is neither normal nor helpful. In fact, it will make you suffer and it can eventually kill you.

There are many causes of acute inflammation such as a diet filled with sugar, processed foods, insufficient Omega-3 fatty acids, too much Omega-6 fatty acids, too much processed fats, not enough natural fats, too much gluten. Then you have non-diet related issues like insufficient sleep, chronic stress, not enough exercise, too much exercise, insufficient recovery time after exercise, and so on. 

Did you notice the trend in the above paragraph? Too much or too little is the theme. NO BALANCE.  In the days, weeks, and months ahead we will delve more deeply into each of these things but it is simply too much for one posting. 

Before I close this topic for the day I want to say that when I use the words 'balance' or 'equilibrium' I am not talking about moderation in all things because there are certain things that should be eliminated from our lives altogether and on those I simply cannot and will not compromise. The biggies: Processed foods and wheat. You'll see why as time goes on, but suffice to say I consider these things to be every bit as good for you as rat poison--should you have some of that in moderation?

Until next time.

1 comment:

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