“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” You have heard it before and you will hear it again at some point I’m sure. It sounds like such a fun, pithy statement but did you every really stop to think about what it actually means? No one ever uttered those words to me when I weighed 400 lbs. Not once did people tell me to eat pizza and chicken wings in moderation. After I lost some weight and started eating plants and setting fitness goals I have heard that quote one too many times. This is probably my first “real” rant, a sort of way to vent after I heard the moderation thing again today as I was discussing chicken wings with a friend. I used to be the chicken wing king. I could polish off 30 by myself without even batting an eye. Not once did anyone tell me that I should eat chicken wings in moderation, not once did my friends tell me to throttle back on the saturated fats and cholesterol, not once did people tell me to enjoy my couch in moderation. Not once. They watched me as I ate myself into a coma, a sort of slow and drawn out suicide and not once was the word moderation ever mentioned to me regarding my diet and lifestyle. This was probably a good thing because it was none of their business and I wouldn’t have listened anyway.
As my diet and lifestyle changed so did the unsolicited “moderation” advice. As the chicken wings were replaced with rice, beans, and kale people felt (and still feel) that it is their God given duty to tell me that healthy food is good but unhealthy processed foods and cholesterol filled animal products should be enjoyed in moderation. I would like to think that people aren’t purposely trying to derail my efforts to become and remain healthy. I think it is totally a subconscious thing and that there is something bigger going on than just friendly, healthy advice.
According to the dictionary, moderation means,moderate;
Webster’s definition, a : avoiding extremes of behavior or expression : observing reasonable limits <a moderate drinker>
So basically, moderation by definition is restraining yourself to avoid extremes. Moderation is key to our survival. If we were not wired to practice moderation we would die. Moderation stops use from overloading ourselves in a negative way. So I am not making the argument that moderation is a bad thing because it certainly is not. My problem is that moderation is used for justifying apathy. Instead of people saying “everything in moderation” they should say, “everything in moderation that I don’t really care about.” The reality is that if you care deeply for something you will want the absolute best for it. If you genuinely care then moderate just won’t be good enough.
I think the best way to to explain this idea is to ask a few questions.
- Do you love your family with moderation?
- Would you want your spouse to be moderately faithful?
- Is it alright that a family member smokes crack so long as it’s just a moderate amount?
- Should a recovering alcoholic enjoy moderate drinks at a work party?
- Should you kids be moderately harassed or bullied at school?
- Do you want a job with a moderate amount of longevity?
- What about a world with a moderate amount of cancer, hunger, poverty, human trafficking, or disasters?
I think you get the point. Most things that we care about in life won’t fit the whole moderation deal. Sometimes people say I’m extreme and I suppose they would be right. But four years ago I was extreme as well. I ate an extreme amount of unhealthy food and sat in front of the TV for extreme amounts of time. I put my family through extreme amounts of pain and difficulty as well. Now, I am extremely concerned with the food I eat. I am extremely concerned with living life with passion and excitement. I am training extremely hard because I don’t want moderate results. My family, well, they are extremely proud of the man I am today. I will continue to live to the extremes until I can not longer do so. The key to living to the extremes is not moderation, it’s balance and priorities.
So, to you who say eat bacon and sugar in moderation, I know that bacon and sugar will lead to heart disease and diabetes and since I have no interest in a moderate case of either I will abstain. Thank you for your concern though.
At the end of the day, if it is good for you and the people around you, it causes no ill effects on anyone, and your motivation and heart are in the right place, then by all means, be extreme!
“Eat plants and move your body, all ya gotta do is a little more than yesterday.” 😉
Until next time,