There it is… that word again: Moderation. You’ve heard it countless times, and for some reason, you still don’t feel very comfortable with it.
Whether you’re thinking about your struggles with your diet or your exercise program or your secret knitting hobby, you have probably been told “everything in moderation!”
So what is moderation, really?
Moderation (noun): The avoidance of excess or extremes.
If moderation is the avoidance of excess or extremes, then what are these extremes?
Avoiding Fitness Extremes
The CDC recommends at LEAST 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week and 2 or more days of resistance training that hits all major muscles groups. However, we often see athletes and fitness enthusiasts training way more than this. So what is extreme?
Extreme when it comes to fitness should not be measured by how many miles you run a week or how many workouts you do a week. Instead, ask yourself the following questions:
*Am I feeling overly tired?
*Are my joints hurting more than usual?
*Did I develop an injury that won’t go away?
*Is my performance decreasing during my workouts?
*Am I having trouble sleeping?
*Do I feel less hungry?
*Do I feel more agitated or moody than usual?
*Am I losing more hair than usual?
*Do I feel sore all the time?
If you answered yes to more than 3 or more of these questions, you are probably overtraining and going into the extreme.
While you might think working out 7 days a week is better than 0 days a week, you need to be mindful about how your body FEELS. The whole point of exercising and eating better is so that you can sustain these changes LONG-TERM! If you’re exercising to the point of having issues as seen above, you will become demotivated, fall off the bandwagon, and might get some not so pretty injuries along the way.
It’s funny how we’ve made ourselves believe that pain during exercise is normal and part of “getting in shape.” But our bodies know us better than we think they do. And the thing is, you don’t have to push to the point of pain to see results, I promise.
Avoiding Nutrition Extremes
No carb or low carb diets are all the rage these days. While there are many success stories to this approach, many people struggle to maintain this type of diet long-term and begin to feel chronically fatigued. While I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with eliminating some carbs from our diets (as Americans, we basically live off our pizza, beer, donuts, and sausage biscuits), we do need to re-approach how we look at them.
Carbs are ESSENTIAL for our bodies to function properly. I mean, Michael Phelps eats the majority of meals from carbs every day to fuel his training for crying out loud. And yes, of course I know we aren’t Michael Phelps, but that doesn’t mean we can should just be “carb-free”.
When you think of carbs, most of the time you’re thinking of donuts, cake, chips, etc. But none of these foods are in any way nutritionally dense. In other words, they don’t provide you with any real vitamins/minerals that are beneficial to you. They’re empty calories and loaded with tons of sugar and unhealthy fats.
When we think of carbs, we need to be thinking of nutritionally dense carbs: brown rice, starchy vegetables, fruits (with the skin), sweet potatoes, oatmeal, quinoa, whole wheat products, etc. But not only that…we need to think about PORTIONS.
Portions are a make or break when it comes to weight loss. If you mess this part up, you’re not going to have a fun time. Carbs should make up 45-65% of the calories for the day, a guideline set by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Carbs are extremely important, especially if you are getting active and doing cardio and resistance training.
So how does that break down per day? Say you eating 2000 calories, then that would mean, you need roughly 900-1300 calories worth of carbs a day. Since there are 4 calories/gram of carbs, that would equate to 225-325g a day. A portion of carbohydrates is 15g. This is equal to 1/3 cup of pasta, 1 piece of toast, 1/4 of a bagel etc. A portion of carbohydrate is not just a “serving” on your nutrition label, it’s literally defined as the amount that gives you 15g.
So I know it might sound confusing. So let’s break this down meal-wise (this is NOT including fats and proteins, JUST breaking down carbs):
* Two pieces of toast (30g) + 1/2 cup orange juice (15g)
Morning snack: 30g
*3/4 cup blueberries (15g) + 2/3 cup fat free plain yogurt (15g)
*2/3 cup rice (30g) + 1/2 cup starchy veggies (15g)
Afternoon snack: 30g
*1.5 oz pretzels
*1 cup pasta (45g) + 1 cup milk (15g) + 2 1oz dinner rolls (30g)
Night Snack: 15g
*3 cups popped popcorn
Total Carbs: 255g
Just taking into carbs, the above is an example of healthy carbs eaten in a day that meets recommended guidelines. If you’d like to figure out how to count carbs, there are plenty of good cheat sheets you can find online. Google is your best friend here.
The point is, you can have your carbs and eat them too…BUT! it does matter what type of carbs and how much. It may feel strange eating carbs when everyone else is avoiding them, but we promise you will see results either way as long as you are watching portions and making healthy choices.
Avoiding fitness and diet extremes is important for overall long-term consistency. I would hope you want to feel good and look good for more than just a few months, right? In order to stick to a plan long-term, it’s time to consider:
1) How is my body feeling? Am I pushing too hard?
2) Am I eating in a way that supports my goals and in a way I can eat long-term?
By striving to avoid extremes and finding your own moderation, you will set yourself up for long-term success that will keep you feeling, looking, and performing well.