Episode 297 – The Ridiculous Notion of Moderation

Written by Jonathan

Have you ever heard this expression, ‘Everything in moderation, except moderation.’ I’ve heard this expression several times and I don’t know where it comes from or who started it, but the first time I heard it I agreed with it and thought – you know everything should be done in moderation, but then I heard it again in a slightly different context and decided I didn’t like it as much and now I’ve been thinking about it for several years (I know I’m a bit weird like that, but sometimes little things bother me for a really long time and it takes me some time to figure out why they bother me so much and I just need to reflect on them), anyways now that I’ve reflected on it, I’ve decided I don’t really like it at all and I just want to dig into why, let’s start with the definition.   



  • The avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one’s behaviour
  • The action of making something less extreme, intense or violent
  • In moderation – within reasonable limits, not to excess


I think the reason this bothers me so much is that I can think of so many things you should do excessively and so many things you shouldn’t do at all. For example I think you should aggressively eat as many vegetables as possible, if you’re trying to be healthier or lose weight, start ramming those veggies down your throat, I also think you should be aggressively active, I don’t mean exercising I mean being active, in other words being up and moving around in as many different ways as possible through your day. On the flip side or the other end of the spectrum no amount of cocaine or heroin is okay and a moderate amount of processed meat is not okay, I would even argue it should be eaten rarely to never and the same goes for any kind of deep fried food. Now I know many of you are thinking, Jonathan, these are basically pretty obvious statements that most people would agree with and I acknowledge that, so let’s talk about what people are actually saying when they say everything in moderation. You drank 4 glasses of wine or you ate a doughnut as a Friday night treat that’s okay, everything in moderation, actually means – it’s okay that you’re not perfect, you can forgive yourself for that fact and it’s not the end of the world if every once in awhile you have some unhealthy behaviours, habits or faults you’re a real life human.  


There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Here’s the point I’m trying to make, if you’re trying to be a healthy or healthier person eating unhealthy foods in moderation means you won’t be as healthy as you could be and if you’re trying to lose weight you’ll probably plateau at a higher weight than you want. If you want to build significant muscle, doing resistance training in moderation probably won’t get you there, it will allow you to maintain what you’ve built or increase to a point, but that’s it.


Here’s how I look at it, if you want to be excellent at something you immerse yourself in it to get good at it, if you want to learn a language the best way is to immerse yourself in it for several weeks or a few months, basically a short period of time relatively speaking, this fast tracks you to understand the basics and the fundamentals, not an hour here or an hour there. Then once the basics are mastered you can practice a moderate amount to maintain what you’ve built and then periodically immerse yourself to sharpen your skills again.


By cycling immersion with moderation you go between becoming a master and maintaining your skills. This will allow you to stay sharp, but also give you the opportunity to take breaks, having the breaks or bouts of moderation we can call them, allow you to be easy on yourself and forgive yourself for those times you’re not ‘perfect.’


From an exercise perspective this might look like this, let’s say you have a career and a family life and you try to balance both of those things together giving enough time to each that both parts of your life have a strong foundation. In order to perform your best at both you decide exercising is a critical component, so you start exercising on a regular basis, you look at your life schedule and see that it’s September, the summer season is over and the next 2 or 3 months are going to be very structured, because you’ll be working your regular hours and the rest of your family has the same set schedule, you understand how to work around it all. This means now would be a really good time to dive deep and dive hard into an exercise routine where you exercise intensely for 8 to 12 weeks for 30 minutes to an hour everyday, because you know December is going to be a gong show and you’re going to have social commitments and it’s going to be very hard to follow a consistent program, which is the time to follow your exercise program moderately, you can cut down on the number of days and the amount of time to follow a very moderate exercise program that still allows you to maintain. Then once all the social engagements of December are done, you can re-commit and immerse yourself again. Following this cycle and forgiving yourself for those periods of moderation.


This notion of everything in moderation all the time, only perpetuates the notion that you should be living in moderation and do everything in moderation, which in my mind really only leads to mediocrity, which is fine if you want to live a mediocre life, but you’re listening to this show right now which tells me you want more than that, you want to be better than that, to which I say yes be better than that and demand excellence from yourself, immerse yourself in whatever it is you’re trying to improve, then cycle it with moderation to maintain all the improvements you’ve made and then immerse yourself again, and again until you become the healthiest and most active version of yourself.    


That’s it for today, thanks for tuning in and stopping by, before you take off I do have a small request, if you know someone who might enjoy this show or find it useful please share it with them, that’s it. Living a healthy and active lifestyle is simple, but it isn’t easy and hopefully this show will help one more person take a step in a new slightly more active and healthy direction.



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