When I speak with new clients they will often describe their relationship with their diet as ‘all or nothing’. They’re either sticking to a diet plan, following the rules and seeing their weight come down. Or it’s a free for all and their relationship with eating feels out of control.
We talk about ‘a balanced diet’ or ‘a balanced lifestyle’ – but what does that even mean? It’s such a vague expression it’s virtually useless. What’s more, balance looks different for everybody.
“TOO MUCH ORDER IS A DICTATORSHIP”
Recently I had a conversation with a very wise woman about the importance of balancing order and chaos. She described extreme order as being ‘like a dictatorship’.
A level of order is important for ensuring things get done and life doesn’t descend into chaos. But when things become too ordered life can become rigid, inflexible and joyless. It doesn’t allow for spontaneity and can lead to stagnation.
TOO MUCH CHAOS IS STRESSFUL
I am a naturally chaotic soul. Every party of the (relatively) organised individual I am today is learnt behaviour. In no small part thanks to my wonderful mother who invested many hours in teaching me how to be a functional human being.
Chaos can be fun in the right doses. Messy water fights with kids in the sunshine. Holidays where you can leave your responsibilities behind and feel free. But when things become too chaotic it’s stressful, unproductive and unsustainable.
From a biological perspective, our bodies are constantly striving for balance. How can we strive for the same in our lives?
WHAT DOES BALANCE LOOK LIKE TO YOU?
The first step towards achieving a state of balance is identifying what that looks like for you. It can apply to areas across our lives. It might mean implementing routines such as a consistent bedtime, weekly time set aside for meal prepping or scheduling regular exercise. It may mean allowing yourself a certain number of treats, or treat meals a week. If you drink alcohol, it could include identifying how many glasses will allow you to enjoy it, without things going too far.
Another important step is to recognise when things are becoming too ordered, or too chaotic. When you see this happening, you can ask yourself what you need to do to bring things back to balance.
If things become too chaotic, there are many fantastic apps that can create accountability and help you foster healthy habits. You could consider writing out a checklist of daily habits you want to get back into, ticking them off each day. Small actions like this can lead to significant shifts. Or you could seek help from a professional who can help you address areas of your life that require restoration of balance.
On the other hand, if things become too ordered, ask yourself what you’re missing our on because of the excess order. What is your soul crying out for more of? Fun? Adventure? Freedom?
BALANCE IN WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
When my team and I work with clients, we are there to celebrate their successes with them. These successes go beyond seeing the number on the scale go down. They also include recognising shifts in behaviour that will help to ensure long term success in maintaining weight loss and healthy habits.
I love to see my clients transition away from all or nothing, towards self-regulation and balance. It is the ability to make a conscious choice to enjoy that afternoon tea, the ice cream, the pizza (insert your favourite food here) and then revert back to your usual healthy diet, without feelings of guilt or regret. It’s being able to enjoy Christmas, or a holiday, but then pick up where you left off as soon as it’s over.
CONSCIOUSNESS IS KEY
Maintaining a state of balance takes focus and commitment. For many people I work with, it doesn’t come naturally. It is certainly something I have had to learn.
But over time, being conscious of where you are on the ‘Order Chaos Scale’ can help you to identify when things are becoming unbalanced and gently bring things back to balance.