Moderation is actually hard to define isn’t it? This is what the Oxford Dictionary defines it as:
The avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one’s behavior or political opinions.
The action of making something less extreme, intense, or violent.
Moderation is truly individual and relative. So how do we apply the concept of moderation into our daily lives in a way that helps us live healthier and happier lives?
Making small adjustments over time seems to be a good plan. For instance, if you’re trying to control your social media addiction, you don’t have to delete your Facebook account, but you can set limits for yourself and decide to leave your phone in the other room after dinner for instance. What if you want to exercise, but you always find something else to do instead? Don’t start your journey with a heavy workout load that leaves you feeling like a cripple the next day and leaving you to loathe how you feel, but instead start small and build up to it as you find time.
Remember that your scales of moderation may very likely be different than someone else’s. You may feel that having one or two drinks of alcohol throughout the week is a good moderate amount for you, while a friend may feel that one or two drinks a night might be a good balance for them. Let’s focus on our own ideas of moderation here.
When it comes to eating and nutrition, what is moderation for you? Do you eat a dessert every night after dinner or do you feel your health is being impacted too much after you went to the doctor or weighed yourself recently? You may want to cut the weeknight desserts for a while and just go with weekends. After you have adjusted to having dessert two or three nights a week from seven, getting down to even less might be your balance. Who knows, you might stop craving it all together! Or, you might find that you have created an imbalance in the opposite direction and need to add another night to your dessert adventures for another month! It’s all relevant.
There are some instances where moderation is not appropriate. If you are a recovering alcoholic or addict, moderate drinking will not work for you. Instead, seek moderation in other areas of your life. Alternately, it’s okay to let loose on a long weekend or week-long vacation. One week of indulgence isn’t going to send you off the rails.
Ask yourself, what does living moderately look like in practice? Here are some tips and examples to help:
- When facing something that isn’t optimal for health, take the smallest dose of it you can, given the circumstances. Presented with a box of Oreos, eat one or two. Take a scoop of ice cream, not a full bowl. Have one drink, not six.
- Moderation does not mean “easy”! Acknowledge your big dreams and goals, and then take small steps every day to get there. If you start out too hot, you could burn out. Better to take it day-by-day and build in intensity.
- Celebrate small wins. Over time, those are what add up to big achievements.
- Don’t get derailed by bumps in the road. Moderation means absorbing the jolt, but continuing to move forward and adjusting as you feel is needed.
- Learning to live moderately is a lifelong project that requires constant adjustment.
- Moderate living does not mean you have to stop dreaming big, avoid going on adventures, or giving up on your ambition.
It’s about recognizing the importance of the small, daily steps that will get you there as you remain healthy and inspired to keep reaching new goals.
The moderation challenge is about looking at your health with the whole picture in mind — not just exercise and not just nutrition. Practicing these skills will improve your mind, your body, and your daily habits, leaving you happier, healthier, and in control of your lifestyle. If you’re ready for a change, this is your opportunity now!