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Is Moderation Overrated?

Moderation. Growing up, I didn’t have good role models to learn this skill. I love my mom and dad dearly, and today I’m blessed to count them both as two of my very best friends, but it is more than fair to say that moderation was not a word or activity that any of us shared any expertise.

It’s pointless to blame. It is what it is. While my dad takes offense to the notion that I often refer to my childhood as a dysfunctional jacked-up mess, I’m not sure what else you would call a place overshadowed with years of addiction. I don’t intend to delve into the crazy-ass effects of growing up in an alcoholic family, but only mention it to give some perspective on the idea that of course we didn’t know anything about moderation.

I remember going to Lyle’s family on Christmas Eve when we were first married, and they broke out the homemade vino, and immediately, I thought, “oh no, there’s going to be trouble here tonight.” But these people were quite frankly a little easier to take in those early years once they had a nip or two, and it stopped at exactly that. What a novel approach.

Thankfully, my family is mended, not like any of us would imagine, but that’s ok too. Once chemicals were out of the way, everyone simply threw themselves into being the hardest working, best whatever a person would ever see. This isn’t entirely bad, in moderation. Most days I can even reflect on that time in my life and pull life skills from the experience in which I’m very thankful. I can for instance read a room better than a bona fide clairvoyant.

But I’m wondering if moderation is overrated or just unattainable. I had a really good week last week… I ate appropriately, exercised and even worked in a few yummy treats. I didn’t feel deprived and I practiced what I think is probably, normal, moderate behavior. It felt good. Yesterday evening though, I teetered on the edge – really wanting to let loose and binge.

Had I just been too good throughout the week? Was I still hungry? Was I really pissed at my husband for some stupid, undefined reason? Did my life and eating need to be all good or all bad?

I managed to let it go, but I wonder how long I will practice this moderation gig before I’ll get the hang of it. Will it ever become like a second skin? Even today, I was still edgy and wanted to gnaw off my arm. I didn’t, but took a lot of energy not to.

From the outside there are others around me who seem to have a grasp on moderation, but is that only from outward appearances, and what if these apparently calm, even-keeled souls are also having the same convoluted conversations with themselves as I do to keep everything in order?

I can choose to eat some junk, but if I let go and give in totally, a whole crap-load of stuff starts spiraling out of control. Implementing even just a small amount of planning seems to yield exponential payoffs.

I wish I didn’t have to put thought into this weight thing to be successful. I wish I could just wing it, but I can’t. For whatever reason – general weakness, lack of will power or just a strong desire to medicate emotions with food, I need a plan. The idea of planning shouldn’t shock me. After all, spontaneity is another thing I suck at. I seem to need a freaking plan for everything from pooping to going on vacation.

Just like my struggles with body image, I wonder if I stop fighting moderation and the idea of planning if acceptance might just arrive, which ironically enough would certainly simplify the plan.

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4 Responses

  1. Having a plan is the way to go. I am a life coach who specializes in health and wellness. Most people who don’t have a plan do not reach their goal weight. You can do it.

  2. Well it certainly doesn’t work for me right now! But maybe someday? And maybe I need to reframe my black and white thinking to include gray.

  3. I’ve just about come to expect that within any two week period I am going to have 13 days where I am uber-conscious of what I am eating, happily tracking my calories and pre-planning my meals to get the results I expect. But, that one day of the 14 will be chaotic. Life will get i n the way. I will binge and later regret it.

    But, perhaps the important thing is that the trend and the norm is healthy eating — doing everything right — so that the 1 in 14 scenario becomes more balanced.

    I think the people that have the REAL problem are the ones that eat healthily 1 in 14 and complain about the imbalance as a result of binging 13/14 of the time. They think they are honestly trying because they commit to an occasional “gold star day” but then are frustrated when they can’t lose weight (or whatever the goal happens to be).

  4. I agree with you all. On good days, planning helps, but it takes a lot of work – more than what I’m ready to give some days.

    In reality, I also have to appreciate the fact that I eat in good ways, the majority of the time.

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