When I was young, one of the things I remember my mother telling me, over and over, was the importance of doing things in moderation. Back then, almost everyone who was older and wiser would say that you should walk the middle ground, avoiding extremism.
To some extent, the world has simply changed. There are times one must be a bit of an extremist these days because the middle road can lead to compromise. It's true. However, I think a lot of us could benefit from bringing back the concept of moderation.
One example is in the area of food and diet. Some of my friends are really into the "no white sugar, no white flour, everything whole grains" thing. Others are vegetarians or vegans. Others pig out on just about anything that isn't nailed down in the kitchen. I've found that, in general, the people who are absolutely adamant about eating healthy at all times often have a real hard time sustaining it over the long haul. Then, when they do succumb to the occasional dish of ice cream, they beat themselves up to the point that they are damaging their own self-esteem.
There are those, of course, with genuine health concerns. My daughter used to vaccilate between being a vegetarian, a vegan, diagnosing herself with lactose intolerance, etc. Finally she discovered her real problem, which is that she is gluten intolerant. Now, she is again able to enjoy an occasional piece of meat or dairy, but really has to stay away from gluten, or she faces the consequences. Real health concerns are a whole different issue than what I'm talking about today.
For those of us who don't have a specific intolerance, I still maintain that moderation is the key. I've found that as I eat less sugar, I crave it less. As I get more used to eating fruits and vegetables, I don't miss having meat at every meal. However, once in awhile, I just really feel like having a candy bar or a bowl of ice cream. If I allow myself to enjoy these things in moderation, I dont' feel guilty and I don't feel deprived. Plus, I'm able to actually stick with the resolve to eat in moderation....I don't know about you but if I tried to give up all foods I like cold turkey, I'm betting I'd "fail" and then beat myself up about it.
Exercise is another example. One man I know goes back and forth. One week he is exercising every day, hiking ten miles, working out on the machines every morning. Then for a month, it is nothing. Some of the exercise programs are even labeled "extreme" these days...Personally, I go running at the state park almost every morning. When I can't go for a couple of mornings, I miss it, but I don't yell at myself all day about what a slug I've been...I just try to get it back on the schedule for the next day. What I call running is what a lot of people would call bouncing up and down while walking. Every morning, I'm passed by real runners. You can tell a "real runner" by the spiffy new running shoes they are wearing, the walkman they are listening to (I prefer to listen to the birds in the early morning), and by the fact that I will probably see them for about six days in a row and then never again. On the other hand, some of the early morning walkers and bouncers have been there just about every day with me for the past two years. Once again, establishing some moderate form of exercise that you will actually enjoy and be able to sustain over the long haul is usually better than choosing something too extreme for you to continue day after day.
One more example: technology, especially social networking. A little is fine, laudable, good, productive, and fun. However, when it truly becomes your "social" outlet, to the point you have no real friends, or you wind up getting up in the middle of the night and turning on your computer to to let everybody know you are having trouble sleeping, it can easily become an obsession.
So now I'm getting off the computer and going to do my exercises (in moderation). Bye.