Healthy living advice usually contains the phrase “Everything in moderation,” but what does it really mean? It sounds simple, but it can actually be very difficult to follow and implement in your everyday life. Moderation is relative. What moderation means to you may be completely different to someone else.
The key to moderation is to not become fixated on one part of life. Look at your life in a big-picture view so that you can find a balance of your priorities instead of depriving yourself of something or going overboard. A single indulgence may not matter in a month or a year, so having a moderate perspective would allow for special occasion desserts, taking a break from your regular routine or having a drink with a friend.
How do you know what to moderate from? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
• What behavior do I want to change?
• What am I doing that is affecting me negatively? Positively?
• Is there something I am doing too much? Not enough?
• Where do I want to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?
Changing behaviors or habits that aren’t serving you well is a good start to moderation. Decide what you want to change, respect your own limitations and understand your goals. Start with small changes and work up to bigger changes. Moderation comes with unique challenges, but also presents unique opportunities for wellness.
An appetite for moderation
A preoccupation or obsessiveness about the food you eat can cause more harm than good if you’re not careful. What you eat and drink is not completely dependent on your overall health and everyone’s body has different needs. Exercise, lifestyle habits, stress, sleep and family history are equally as important as what you eat every day. A varied diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and even a sweet treat once in a while will provide you with the energy you need while also allowing yourself to eat what you want. Restrictive diets can cause junk-food cravings to soar, ultimately resulting in an over-indulgence of sugary or salty foods to curb the hankering. Find the level of moderation that works best for you and your body, and don’t be afraid to have an extra cookie sometimes.
How to achieve balance
How long we’re on the clock, the number of projects and the number of emails received daily can put a huge amount of stress on anyone with a career. Creating a balance of work and life will help ease everyday stress and help increase overall productivity. Building flexibility and leisure time into your schedule can help you boost your productivity. Eat lunch away from your desk. Take a coffee break. Write in a journal before bed. Walk outside of the office for a few minutes. Even when you have mountains of work to do, it is important to take mental breaks from work to focus on yourself. You can still get the job done while giving yourself a few minutes to pause and refresh.
The habit of moderation
Changing bad habits into good habits takes planning and requires effort. There are ways to change your habits without completely depriving yourself of something. If you feel like you’re on your devices too much, leave them at home when you go out with friends. Have carbs like rice, bread or pasta with dinner once or twice a week instead of every day. Limit yourself to an hour or two of television instead of binge-watching all night. Remember that everyone’s definition of moderation is different, so what works for you may not work for someone else. Find the definition of “moderation” that works best for you, your lifestyle and your goals.
Here are some daily reminders you can use as motivation:
• Take one small dose at a time. Instead of an entire carton of ice cream, take one scoop.
• Challenge yourself! If your usual workout is 20 minutes, try bumping it to 30 minutes.
• Reach for your goals. Small steps everyday will help you get even closer to your goals.
• Celebrate small victories. Small victories lead to big achievements!
• Don’t get discouraged. Moderation means taking things little by little, so you don’t need to finish a goal right away.
Move forward and continue to reach for your goals.
Living moderately requires constant adjustment. Recognizing small steps in your wellness journey will help keep you inspired and motivated to continue to reach for your goals.
Carlin Flora, “Moderation is the key to life,” Psychology Today. Accessed September 2019.
Toby Amidor, “What does ‘Eating in moderation’ really mean?” U.S.News. Accessed September 2019. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2015/09/21/what-does-eating-in-moderation-really-mean
Hilary Achauer, “What is moderation? How to define it for yourself,” Whole Life Challenge. Accessed September 2019. https://www.wholelifechallenge.com/what-is-moderation-how-to-define-it-for-yourself/
Tamara Lechner, “All things in moderation: When to moderate and when to abstain?” The Chopra Center. Accessed September 2019. https://chopra.com/articles/all-things-in-moderation-when-to-moderate-and-when-to-abstain