Moderation: Building a Healthy Lifestyle
As a therapist, you get asked all sorts of questions: Are video games healthy for my son? I joined a yoga, lyra, and kickboxing class, is that healthy? When I am bored, I am constantly over at a friend’s house, girlfriend’s apartment, this week I’ve never been home. Am I handling my depression? My follow up question for each would be, “What seems to be troubling you?” Each one of these scenarios is coping skills. However, ask yourself how much time are you spending with each activity. Moderation is finding a healthy balance in all aspects of life and not going into excess. Too much of anything can be a bad thing. For example, everything needs water. 60% of the human body is made up of water. To much water, however, can drown a person and flood an entire city.
If we look at moderation we need to examine four aspects of life: Community, Health, Motivation, and Goals.
1) Community- Community is important because it is a source of support and gives us a place where we develop friendships. To little of community gives us a feeling of being alone and isolated. If isolation continues it can cause low self-esteem, loneliness, and social anxiety in crowds. As humans we crave a sense of belonging, to engage in friendships, and have a place where we feel supported. Social interaction increases positivity and gives a person a sense of acceptance. However, there are negative effects of too much social interaction. You can become exhausted and emotionally drained by socializing with too many people. Too much exposure can cause you to be irritable, and crave isolation while being in socially crowded areas. Everybody needs there downtime, whether its watching bad TV, reading a book, or going fishing by yourself.
2) Health- Go on to any website and they will tell you so many diets or different exercise routines to live a healthy lifestyle. Even at an early age we were told to eat our vegetables, go to bed at a reasonable time, exercise, etc. But as people we have not been able to follow those examples due to stress, time, and circumstances in life. Eating healthy is great, if you are currently on a diet I commend you on wanting to live a healthy lifestyle. However, being too strict to eat healthy, can be too much for people which causes a loss in motivation to continue to dieting. In this case, it’s ok to have 1 cheat meal per week. By doing so will cause you to be energized. If you are like me I love pizza, fried chicken, cheese fries: with bacon, sour cream, brisket, and a side of ranch. But if I say to myself, “I will never eat like that again” is impossible. It may be bad for your body but it is good for the soul. Since you are taking steps to eat healthier, it’s important to reward yourself. By doing so you can continue to push yourself forward and accomplish dietary goals. Exercise is very important whether it is taking a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood, or training for a marathon. However, too much exercise can have negative effects. For example, too much running can cause you to lose muscles and wear out your knees. Lifting too much weight does not increase muscle mass. Instead it ruins your progress and causes too much stress in your joints/tendons. Your body will not handle the stress which results in muscle tears. Start out with lighter weights instead, and focus on form. Focusing on form will help you strengthen muscle groups and less injury is like to occur. It is important to remember to find a balance between cardio and weightlifting. Set particular days for cardio and weightlifting. On days of cardio/weightlifting change things up frequently, Day 1: Indoor/Outdoor Swimming, Day 2: Arms/Chest, Day 3: Stair Stepping/Back, Day 4: Legs/Glutes, Day 5: Elliptical Machine/Running. Take at least two days off for your body to recover and build muscle. I am not a personal trainer/nutritionist, for guided instruction please consult one at your local gym.
3) Motivation- Ask yourself what is the one thing you love to do on your time off? For me I love days by the lake. I love swimming or anything by water. Swimming is at the top of the list for me, however toward the end of the summer I am starting to get bored with swimming, in which I have to do other things that I find enjoyable. Too much of a good thing can cause boredom. Plus, if you only have one thing to enjoy, it is important to find other avenues of activity. It could be volunteering at the local homeless shelter, dancing, hunting, hiking, fishing, playing sports, scrapbooking, etc. Anything that you say to yourself: “I had a stressful day, I need to do something fun tonight.” Motivation is important because it recharges other aspects of moderation such as: Community, Health, and Goals. However too much motivation can cause negative motivation to manifest, which results in Community, Health and Goals to suffer. Let’s think about this for a minute, how could motivation can be negative? Sounds improbable, right? Actually no, an example would be using anxiety to motivate you to do your work. “If I don’t do my work on time, I am going to get fired. My wife will leave me and start dating the tattoo covered personal trainer. My kids will think their old man is a loser. And I will lose everything I have built. I need to push myself harder.” This results in self-hate, which depression and anxiety develops. Motivation is good but Negative Motivation can lead you to push yourself too hard. Motivation is important in life and will push your forward toward bigger dreams. The trick is not let Negative Motivation shame you, Motivate yourself.
4) Goals- When there are goals in life that you want to achieve make sure they follow this acronym. S.M.A.R.T which means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and Timely. This provides a map by which you are able to achieve your goals, provides motivation, which builds self-esteem. This acronym helps eliminate unrealistic goals. An unrealistic goal would be: “I will never drink again.” “I will stop eating fried foods, and just eat grilled meats and vegetables only.” Instead try the acronym: Specific- “I am not happy with my current weight. I plan to join the paleo diet and create a meal plan based on its philosophy for eating healthy.” Measurable- “Since it is Wednesday, I want to start my diet next Monday. I will create a meal plan from Monday to Sunday.” Attainable-“If I try this diet and I don’t like it I will research other diets while I am on it after work. I will see the diet through toward the end of the week and have a cheat meal on Sunday night. Ribs from Spring Creek sound good.” Reasonable- “My plan is reasonable and I have 7 days to decide I want to keep the diet or not. And while I am on the diet I can explore other options.” Timely- I feel that 7 days is good enough to decide. I can like or dislike the meal plan. I can find something else. When it comes to moderation focus on one goal at a time. Too many will cause you to lose focus in which you won’t be able to set out what you want to achieve. Remember slow and steady wins the race.
So how do we live a life in moderation? By examining the four areas and most importantly being honest with yourself. Once again thank you for reading and I hope the tools I provided are beneficial to you. Have a great day 😊