The Myth of Moderation

kids at the zoo

I always loved the word moderation. I associated it with small allowances of something in my life that I knew was bad for me, or small allowances of something for my children that I knew wasn’t ideal for their growth and development, but fell into the “fun” or “delicious” category. And if you think about it, that’s something that life should allow! We can’t live strict, rigid, and uncompromising lives without burning out or having the joy zapped right out of us. And if you can, you would be a wonderful monk and consider that for a life path. However…and this is a significant “however”…moderation for some things does not work for some people. Period. And moderation for some kids is still too much. I can’t tell you when exactly that I realized this was my daughter with screens/technology, but it was sometime in the last two months. As I tried to decrease screen time but not take it away completely I was met with more furious passion and push-back than a sheep being lead to shearing. And her general disposition was more unpleasant than when I let her have her normal amount. I felt stuck and mystified. Why wasn’t this moderation thing working?
About the same time that this failed decrease in screen time was going on, I started the paleo diet. As I prepared for it, I was reading about the different methods to starting. There was the option of easing in and still allowing some grains, sugars, dairy, etc. as you got used to it, or just jumping all in. I know myself. I know that if I think I’m allowed some wiggle room that instead of feeling freedom in that and adhering to the requirements modestly, that I will instead push that wiggle room out until I basically haven’t changed a thing. I knew that with switching to a paleo lifestyle that I just had to do it. And that was the moment I had an “ah-ha” moment about my daughter. She can’t do moderation with screens and technology. She will always want more, and longer, and louder, and newer. We had to just pull the plug. So we did…and it has been amazing. Just like when I started my weight loss journey over a year ago and I committed to working out 5-6 days a week, no excuses. Not going hardcore until a certain point and then taking it down a notch. Nope! Because taking it down a notch for me would mean completely falling off the wagon. I know myself too well for that.
Now, can that be frustrating? Yes! Recovering alcoholics all over the world will tell you that it is incredibly frustrating that they cannot enjoy alcohol in moderation. Shopaholics will tell you it’s frustrating that they cannot even manage the balance of one charge card. And I used to be frustrated that feeling confident in my skin requires hard exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5-6 days a week, as well as a zero-grains, almost no sugar diet. Notice I said I used to be frustrated. Here’s the kicker. I’m not a victim to my circumstances, so I refuse to pity myself or to feel any sort of resentment. I know what works for my life and I have the power to control it, so instead of being frustrated, I’m thankful. I’m thankful that I have people in my life who act as mirrors and help me see when something needs to change. I’m thankful that I have enough experience with my own issues in moderation that I was able to recognize it in my daughter. It’s not a limitation if it brings me to my healthiest and happiest self.
God gives us many mirrors. He also gives us wisdom, discernment, and the power to learn from our experiences. If moderation in a particular area is still too much, it’s ok to steer away from society’s adage and to acknowledge that “everything in moderation” can actually be a lie that is keeping us down.

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