Friday, March 20, 2009

Healthy Moderation 2: Avoiding Extremes

Many of the ills that our society faces health wise are directly linked to the fact that we shoot for the extremes. In many cases an obese person has become so through wholly seeking pleasure, through food, rest, and entertainment. These things are not good in themselves, they are goods that are dependent upon some other good. The anorexic seeks to be thin, not seeing that this is also not a true good. Fitness should be the end goal, though it is not a goal that ends. Fitness is the good that is a good in itself. I realize that it is tough to be moderate. I especially have a hard time with this one. I tend to go overboard with anything new that I discover. I have the propensity towards an addictive personality, thus it is very difficult for me to try to be moderate. I used to be a vegetarian, but once I started eating meat, my diet suffered horribly. It was all burgers and juicy steaks, the fattier the better. Around the time that I began eating red meat again I began another unhealthy habit- smoking. I had quit when I was 22, and didn't smoke again until I was 27. from 27-29 I went through periods of quitting and starting again. I haven smoked a cigarette in over 2 years. I generally drink moderately, but once I graduated from college I accelerated my nightly drinking to the point that I was drinking 3-4 beers a night. My health suffered. I was chronically tired, my weight had surged to 250 lb. I generally felt like crap. I was living to an extreme.
When I became a vegetarian at 22 I lived at the end of another vicious extreme. I began exercising a lot. I was lifting weights 7 days a week, running 5 miles every morning without fail, I was doing yoga 5 times a week, I took up Taekwondo, kick boxing, Hapkido, Judo. It was to the point that I was in the Dojo 3 hours a night 4 nights a week. In the daytime I was riding my bike 70 miles round trip to swim in the river. What was the end result of all this exercise? I was physically exhausted. If I missed any part of my routine I would feel intense guilt about it. I was unable to help friends move as my muscles would give out midway through the day. My typical workout consisted of 2 hours of heavy weight lifting. Where now I would count helping someone move as a workout, then I would just workout early in the day so that I would still get my workout in before the moving.
You can't reach fitness goals if you live in the extreme. You should not look at reaching fitness goals as being torn between extremes, you should look at it as practicing to hit a target. Being torn between extremes does nothing to achieve actual health. You should aim not to overeat, nor under eat. You should aim not to over exercise, not under exercise. There is no plan that works for everyone, so you should try to find one that works for you. The most important rule of thumb, it to not beat yourself up if you slip, just get back on the horse as soon as you can. If you are just beginning start slow, if you are continuing look at a way to re tune your workout.

There is a post in the pipes on the true philosophy of Epicureanism.


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Heavy Metal Yogi by Nick Matthaes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.