It wasn’t until a few weeks ago I realized (again) that each of us interprets moderation differently, even with it clearly defined in history, in spiritual texts and in the dictionary. With all the wisdom there, it’s still left to interpretation because of our own practices and beliefs. My epiphany (again) was when a friend suggested that my practice of moderation and self-discipline is more than moderate. The irony is that I believe I am the poster child of moderation and self-discipline! If you are strong in one, you are strong in both—the terms are interchangeable.
The way to moderation is the same way to all things, through practice and consistency until it becomes a way of life. But first you have to know what it looks like, and why you might want to make this your practice in all things, most of the time. And specifically in this blog, for your physical health through nutrition and fitness.
The quality of being moderate; restraint; avoidance of extremes or excesses especially in one’s behavior; temperance. synonyms: self-restraint, restraint, self-control, self-discipline
To encompass the full definition of moderation, we must acknowledge that moderation is also a virtue and a principle. As a virtue, it’s a quality highly desirable in a person, and as a principle, it’s a fundamental truth serving as the very foundation for a belief system or behavior.
Why practice moderation?
The truth is the truth every where. You become stronger by practicing the principle of moderation, and virtues are things we have to practice, because they are worth your while and they make us better and stronger. It increases our self-efficacy—the belief that we are capable of accomplishing what we set out to accomplish—regardless of our skill sets. It provides inner peace, confidence and strength.
Aristotle: “Through discipline comes freedom."
Bible Hebrews 12:11 ESV/925: "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
Gandhi: “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” http://wisdomquotes.com/gandhi-quotes/
What it looks like
Specific to health through nutrition and fitness, it means maintaining a healthy weight, choosing wisely what you put in your body, and getting enough exercise and sleep. That includes enjoying portion controlled nutritious foods (mostly plant based foods) and favorites – which keeps us in this space of practicing moderation. Being able to have a cookie or two, a glass of wine or two sometimes for example, is moderation. You will be happy to know that I believe that sometimes moderation should be practiced in moderation! I think that is where the lines blur for each of us. “Sometimes” (how often) is the differentiator as well as “how much”.
Sometimes it’s time to have cake at a birthday party, and sometimes a big piece. Especially if it’s my birthday! Because I like cake. It’s a favorite of mine. And, sometimes I don’t want any cake. So I don’t have it.
A story of moderation in moderation
I finished a half marathon last Sunday, Feb. 17th. Long runs are not my norm, and I don’t consider running 13.1 miles moderate. But a person who runs Iron Mans would interpret 13.1 miles as moderate, demonstrating why our definition of moderation varies. I do not love running long distances and this was my second half marathon and both times I proclaimed, "l’ll never do that again!” I did it so I could run with my neighbor, who is one amazing lady and this was a healthy way to get to know her. And it was fun in the end.
My normal running pattern is three-five miles. I find running inspiring. Endorphins kick in and I feel I can conquer the world! My normal weekly routine and interpretation of moderation is exercising 4-6 days a week from 20-60 minutes and includes mostly running, and variations of weights, jump rope, yoga, and cycling. It’s a lifelong habit and I always fit it in.
Alternatively, a long planned jog of 11 miles on a Saturday to train for the 13.1 mile half marathon, made me feel like poo all day, not to mention I was in complete mental resistance making it that much harder. I acknowledge my resistance was the cause of my own struggle!
The half marathon day is a good example of practicing moderation in moderation. After our 13.1 mile 2 hour 20 minute finish, we enjoyed the beer garden reward of Tito’s and OJ! I had two! And, the celebration continued when I got home an hour and ½ later. One more!—with a homemade sandwich loaded with veggies, provolone and sliced grilled chicken. Followed by a nap. This is not my norm, except for the sandwich, and represents my take on moderation in moderation. And, it turned out to be a perfect day! Sometimes it’s simply time to indulge. It’s good for the soul. Sometimes being the key word.
While writing this the day after the marathon, I am eating a Chobani yogurt with a handful of blueberries and a few banana slices mixed in for breakfast. Sometimes I choose eggs for breakfast, sometimes fruit and sometimes avocado toast. I am not always hungry at the same time. Which means I pack food, because I may not be hungry before 8 a.m. and then at 9 a.m. I am “starving” and now I am at work facing a vending machine. My practice in this specific example would be to choose not to buy from the vending machine, therefore being hungry until I can get a healthy lunch at lunchtime. Most of the time I have packed a piece of fruit or something healthy to get me through the morning to lunch. When I work from home, I have other challenges, just like many would. The benefit is that I get to eat when I am hungry and prepare healthy food. The challenge is the pantry calls my name sometimes and I can ruin my dinner with too many crackers around 4 pm, for example.
Three tips on how to practice moderation:
Moderation and passion are not mutually exclusive. The WHY to practice moderation must be YOUR WHY
Let your passion fuel your desire for self-control. Your desire for mastering the practice of moderation is easier with meaning. You must attach meaning, passion and purpose to what your practice of moderation and self-discipline will give you in return. Controlling what you can control is powerful, and your freedom comes from making good choices. And many times, a good choice is asking for help. We never need to walk alone.
Health Inspires, LLC
My passion and purpose is helping people reach their full potential and master their wellbeing.
Disclosure: Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before beginning any diet or exercise program and ask whether you are healthy enough to engage in a diet and exercise program. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider concerning your overall health and wellness, including your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. It is your choice to follow the suggestions, opinions and advice given by a Health Inspires wellness coach.