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Whether we initiate them or they are forced on us, changes can wreak havoc in our lives. We can feel off, as if we’ve lost our footing, until we settle into our new life. When you understand equilibrium, navigating life’s ups and downs—as well as consciously making changes—becomes easier.

Although the concept applies to all kinds of situations, I learned about equilibrium in 2015. I was determined to adopt a healthier lifestyle and upgrade my eating habits. Ultimately, I lost more weight than I had thought possible. But over the eight months it took, I also reached many plateaus, when for two to three weeks my weight would not budge.

These plateaus made sense when I read The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor, who explained set points and metabolism. Our bodies want—even demand—homeostasis: A relatively stable state of equilibrium or a tendency toward such a state between the different but interdependent elements or groups of elements of an organism, population, or group. (Merriam-Webster dictionary.)

Homeostasis was something I never considered until one day I heard myself saying: My body has changed a lot already. Maybe I should put some weight back on.

Wait…what? Thankfully, I wondered: Why in the world would I want to do that?

Why indeed. It was what I was used to. It’s what still felt “normal.” As I cut out sugar, my insulin levels changed, which affected my stress and other hormone levels. As I lost weight, toxins which had been stored in my body were released, requiring my by body to detoxify them.

Continuing to lose weight meant staying in a state of dis-equilibrium until my body could bring all my systems and levels back in alignment. Like in a recipe, if you substitute one ingredient for another, the other ingredients or the quantities that the recipe calls for might need to change, too.

Some call this balance. But balance can also be the Olympic gymnast performing her most difficult routine on a four inch balance beam or the famous plate spinner dashing from plate to plate to keep them spinning. There isn’t much room for error—a slight wiggle can be the difference between Gold and a whole lot of broken dishes. Not one cell in my body is striving for that kind of balance!

Equilibrium is different. It’s about adjusting aspects of our lives to bring about or deal with change so, ultimately, we can feel happier or healthier. How much do we work versus play? Spend time alone or with others? Strive to achieve our goals versus making self-care a priority?

Change requires allowing certain aspects of your life to shrink and others to expand. Trust me, it’s worth it! Making these adjustments while living through a tough time brought me to a better place—one I never considered.

Whatever your dreams, goals, or challenges see them through the lens of homeostasis. Be patient on the days you feel discouraged, achy, or tired. They are merely an indication that you haven’t quite regained equilibrium.

When you are hit with an emotional, professional, or physical challenge, how do you re-establish equilibrium?