By Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD
If something is good for you, more of it must be better…right?
Two recent articles reminded me why this isn’t true. The first was about the potential negative effects of excessive running. Researchers now believe that years of too much pounding can actually increase the risk of heart disease from wear and tear. As someone who used to run marathons, this caught my eye.
The second was the reminder of negative effects of being underweight. Did you know that being underweight puts people at a higher risk for death than being overweight? Bottom line: weight shouldn’t be like a limbo contest.
This information doesn’t make me think I don’t exercise or that should try to gain weight. But it reinforces something I’ve come to embrace: moderation is key for good health and self care.
I’m not talking about moderation being used as an excuse to eat, like the person going for round three of donuts reminding everyone that “everything in moderation” is okay. Instead, I’m sharing an important truism: just because something is good for us doesn’t mean excessive amounts are also good. We have plenty of research to show this is true — and moderation seems to win every time.
For me, moderation is the intersection of healthy habits and a joyful life. It’s the sweet spot where you keep things healthy without losing pleasure in life, which is ever-changing. What I enjoy in my forties is different than in my twenties.
Practicing moderation has helped me appreciate and tend to the health of my mind. If the diet and exercise choices I make stress me out, or take all of my energy, that also hinders my health. I have come to believe that good health is a mix of a nourishing diet, physical activity and good mental health and not just what someone eats or the type of exercises they do.
What does moderation look like in my daily life? Well, I eat nourishing meals with all the food groups and work good nutrition in while focusing on enjoyment and listening to my body. I usually have something sweet each day like dark chocolate but I also enjoy ice cream and cookies sometimes. I look to be active most days for about an hour which includes running and gym classes and I also incorporate strength exercises like yoga and weights. If I’m tired one day, I’m fine skipping a workout (and Sunday workouts never seem to happen). I accept that my weight is a bit higher now that I’m over 40m but it feels like its where it should be.
Moderation may not be popular or sexy, but avoiding the extremes has helped keep me healthy and happy. I just wish it would catch on.