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Moderation? …Or mediocrity?

February 22, 2015

“That, however, is mediocrity, though it be called moderation.” Friedrich Nietzsche

Someone wrote this on a thread I was following recently:

“I hate looking at the competitors, because when I see their bodies and how fit they are, I honestly feel sorry for them. We aren’t all obsessive like that. Some of us practice moderation. Some of us have a life.”

I've got a problem with the sentiment and pervasive message this comment sends – a message of putting down someone else’s efforts. I also question the motives of the person who wrote this.

If you don’t want to go to that more extreme level with your training you certainly don’t have to, nor should anyone make you feel like you have to.

But if someone else chooses to sacrifice a bit more than the norm to reach their goals, or chooses to be more extreme in their fitness endeavors, whether it’s performing at a higher level or becoming really fit (or even if it’s an aesthetic goal) that is something that should be admired, not shamed. I have nothing but support for people who choose to go that extra mile in any physical endeavor.

Why would we only support “normal” or “mediocre”? Is this to make sure everyone feels secure and happy, and has a “healthy balance”, and so that we don’t rock the boat? If someone looks really fit to you, or spends a lot of time training or eating different foods than you are used to, and you assume that they are obsessive and unbalanced, do you think maybe the issue is actually with you and your judgment? If you are happy with how you are now than that is all that matters. But “fit shaming”, “exercise shaming”, “lean shaming” “muscle shaming” or whatever form of shaming is still shaming no matter what spin you try to put on it or how "well-meaning" you try to make your motives appear.

I think it's important to realise that there are differences in what is achievable within someone’s own personal limits or desires, goals, mental capacity, pain thresholds, body shapes and genetics. Everyone is different. Some people can handle more training and physical stress than others; they enjoy it and even thrive on it. There is no right or wrong. Just because someone doesn’t have the “perfect balance” in their life (in YOUR opinion) does not make their journey less right than yours. Everyone is at a different place in their life. To me it is always an inspiration to see somebody who is reaching their goals!

Often times we tell others to have “moderation” because we like the status quo. We don’t want our feathers ruffled. We don't want someone else to make us look bad with their hardcore dedication. You can see this happen sometimes with couples, when one person in the relationship starts making physical changes, whether they become more active or take up a sport or start competing in something, the other person begins to get very anxious and uptight about it. They want their partner to stay the way they were, because change is threatening to them in some way.  When someone says “Don’t get too fit or too strong or muscular, make sure you have a healthy balance” they are not usually saying it for your own good, but rather its coming from their own motives and reasons. You becoming this way makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure in themselves.

Look, I’m all for having a healthy balance and I promote having good health and quality of life, but I think we need to rethink our definition of “balance” sometimes. The “all things in moderation” bandwagon (even in the fitness industry) is starting to get a little out of control. Olympic athletes don’t win gold medals by practicing moderation.  They often do multiple workouts every day and eat to support their training, at the expense, I’m sure, of other interests and even relationships.  But doing well as an athlete is more important than these other things to them, and that’s why they are the best at it.

Exercise or don't - for whatever your reasons happen to be - but don't blame those who do, or those who are more into it than you--for either your insecurities or your physique, whatever your issues may be. Own your life and your body, for all that it is; take responsibility for what you want out of life, and stop telling everyone that it’s “better” to be or look one way or another, just because that is how you have chosen to live your life. Not everyone wants the same things out of life as you do.

How's your "moderation"? Do you need to practice it in moderation? :)



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