One of the things I've been doing to relax this winter is putting a fire in the fireplace. I can sit with a book, or with the TV on, or I can just sit and watch the thing burn with a glass of wine in my hand. For hours, occasionally getting up to throw on a log.
I've spent the past year and a half of my life in the fitness industry. It's a world full of people who don't understand what moderation is, or how to achieve it. And those who do, are extreme in their moderation.
Mostly, people are really focused on working out, or on nutrition, or on both. They're looking for 4% body fat to see if they can do it. They'll spend one eight-week period trying to lose 15 pounds to see if they can do it, and the next eight weeks trying to gain 15 pounds, just to see if they can do it.
Then there are the people who talk about their goals endlessly and do very little toward achieving them. They're all motivation and no action. To an extreme.
Then there are the people who do find a fitness/fun balance – these are people who make sure they enjoy themselves from a food and drink standpoint, then do exactly enough exercise to maintain their weight. To an extreme.
I've noticed that, as I've become more and more part of the fitness world, I'm headed that way, too. I know what's in everything I eat. I know exactly what each protein:carb:fat balance will do to my weight the next morning. I know exactly what I'm going to feel like tomorrow based on what I consume. And it's not just knowledge; I think about it. A lot.
I've moved away from moderation.
So, back to that fire.
To keep a fire going is work. You have to make the time to add logs here and there, and move partly burned logs around, and create some air now and again.
You can't just pile more wood on and expect it to burn longer, because the fire will just spread and consume all that new wood immediately. It's greedy. It's a bit on the extreme side.
What we learn from fire is that, in order to keep it alive, we have to plan, we have to observe, and we have to be ready to deal with some things we weren't expecting – like airflow, or some wetness inside what we thought was a dry log.
That's how you keep a fire under control and burning for a while, prolonging enjoyment. Moderation and some attention.
That's how we get the most out of our lives, even while we focus on our health, our fitness, our nutrition, our enjoyment of day-to-day life.
Anything that you might do to the extreme? Tuck it down a notch. You'll enjoy it more, and over a longer period of time.