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Healthy living advice usually contains the phrase “Everything in moderation,” but what does it really mean? It sounds simple, but it can actually be very difficult to follow and implement in your everyday life. Moderation is relative. What moderation means to you may be completely different to someone else.


The key to moderation is to not become fixated on one part of life. Look at your life in a big-picture view so that you can find a balance of your priorities instead of depriving yourself of something or going overboard. A single indulgence may not matter in a month or a year, so having a moderate perspective would allow for special occasion desserts, taking a break from your regular routine or having a drink with a friend.


How do you know what to moderate from? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:


• What behavior do I want to change?
• What am I doing that is affecting me negatively? Positively?
• Is there something I am doing too much? Not enough?
• Where do I want to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?


Changing behaviors or habits that aren’t serving you well is a good start to moderation. Decide what you want to change, respect your own limitations and understand your goals. Start with small changes and work up to bigger changes. Moderation comes with unique challenges, but also presents unique opportunities for wellness.

An appetite for moderation

A preoccupation or obsessiveness about the food you eat can cause more harm than good if you’re not careful. What you eat and drink is not completely dependent on your overall health and everyone’s body has different needs. Exercise, lifestyle habits, stress, sleep and family history are equally as important as what you eat every day. A varied diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and even a sweet treat once in a while will provide you with the energy you need while also allowing yourself to eat what you want. Restrictive diets can cause junk-food cravings to soar, ultimately resulting in an over-indulgence of sugary or salty foods to curb the hankering. Find the level of moderation that works best for you and your body, and don’t be afraid to have an extra cookie sometimes.

How to achieve balance

How long we’re on the clock, the number of projects and the number of emails received daily can put a huge amount of stress on anyone with a career. Creating a balance of work and life will help ease everyday stress and help increase overall productivity. Building flexibility and leisure time into your schedule can help you boost your productivity. Eat lunch away from your desk. Take a coffee break. Write in a journal before bed. Walk outside of the office for a few minutes. Even when you have mountains of work to do, it is important to take mental breaks from work to focus on yourself. You can still get the job done while giving yourself a few minutes to pause and refresh.

The habit of moderation

Changing bad habits into good habits takes planning and requires effort. There are ways to change your habits without completely depriving yourself of something. If you feel like you’re on your devices too much, leave them at home when you go out with friends. Have carbs like rice, bread or pasta with dinner once or twice a week instead of every day. Limit yourself to an hour or two of television instead of binge-watching all night. Remember that everyone’s definition of moderation is different, so what works for you may not work for someone else. Find the definition of “moderation” that works best for you, your lifestyle and your goals.

Here are some daily reminders you can use as motivation:


• Take one small dose at a time. Instead of an entire carton of ice cream, take one scoop.
• Challenge yourself! If your usual workout is 20 minutes, try bumping it to 30 minutes.
• Reach for your goals. Small steps everyday will help you get even closer to your goals. 
• Celebrate small victories. Small victories lead to big achievements! 
• Don’t get discouraged. Moderation means taking things little by little, so you don’t need to finish a goal right away.


Move forward and continue to reach for your goals.


Living moderately requires constant adjustment. Recognizing small steps in your wellness journey will help keep you inspired and motivated to continue to reach for your goals.




Carlin Flora, “Moderation is the key to life,” Psychology Today. Accessed September 2019.

Toby Amidor, “What does ‘Eating in moderation’ really mean?” U.S.News. Accessed September 2019.

Hilary Achauer, “What is moderation? How to define it for yourself,” Whole Life Challenge. Accessed September 2019.

Tamara Lechner, “All things in moderation: When to moderate and when to abstain?” The Chopra Center. Accessed September 2019.

We know that to manage your weight, you need to balance the calories you eat with the amount of physical activity you exert. News flash – the quality of your eating and exercise habits matter too.


Eating habits. Healthy weight management for life means a diet focused on whole foods, mostly plants. What are whole foods? They include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains such as oatmeal or brown rice, and most any food that doesn’t come in a package.  Focus your whole food diet on plants, cutting back on meat and other foods high in sugar or unhealthy fats such as fried foods, desserts, and high-fat snacks such as chips.


Change doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s OK to start small. For an afternoon snack, swap out chips or a candy bar for some plain Greek yogurt topped with fruit, or apple slices with unsweetened peanut butter. Strawberries or pineapple make a delicious dessert.  And start out the day right with an egg and some melon or oatmeal sweetened with berries instead of boxed cereal or an over-sized bagel.


Exercise. Regular exercise not only helps you get to your goal weight, it helps you stay there too.  Guidelines suggest that to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, people should do 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity weekly. Additionally, muscle burns more calories than fat, so building up your muscles will allow you to eat more while maintaining your weight.


If you are not currently physically active, now is a great time to get started. Take a 10-minute walk and add more time as that becomes too easy. Walk up stairs instead of taking an elevator. Best of all, head out for a workout with a buddy. Or want to go solo? Try catching up on a podcast or listening to your favorite music. Whatever you choose, make sure you talk with your doctor before beginning any kind of exercise program.


You’ll find all these little changes add up to a new you. 



2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. United States Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at:
Accessed January 20, 2016.

Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion website. Available at: Updated December 2015. Accessed April 11, 2017.

Diets for weight loss. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed…. Updated February 7, 2017. Accessed April 11, 2017

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A good night’s sleep doesn’t begin when you get in bed. Follow this countdown to bedtime in order to rest your best.


Hours before bed:


  • Six:        End the caffeine
  • Three:   Wrap up dinner and stop alcohol intake
  • Two:      No more exercise, except for maybe some gentle stretching
  • One:      Stop working and turn off electronics



Make the hour before bed calming and relaxing by trying one of these. Listen to soothing music. Take a warm bath or shower. Meditate and breathe. Read a book (not an electronic reader). Use soothing essential oils such as lavender.

And a few last tips:

  • Stay on a schedule. Try to go to bed and get up at approximately the same time each day.
  • Stomach grumbling before bed? Try a cup of herbal tea or, if you’re truly hungry, perhaps some turkey roll ups, nut butter on toast, or a slice of cheese.
  • Keep it cool. Ideal bedroom temperatures are between 65 and 72 degrees.
  • Darker rooms will help you sleep better. Try blackout curtains or a sleep mask.


When you can’t fall asleep after 30 minutes, perhaps you are not ready for sleep. Switch to another relaxing activity for a while, then try again.


Try it out – make over your sleep routine! Feel overwhelmed by all the tips? Talk to your coach about one or two things to change right now and gradually shift your sleep routine.



Monitoring the intensity of your activity is important for several reasons, but most importantly because it lets you know whether you are working too hard or not hard enough. Working too hard can lead to over-training resulting in injuries, decline in performance, lack of sleep and even mood changes. Not working hard enough, on the other hand, makes it harder for you to improve your fitness and achieve your health goals.



How do you measure intensity? There are several ways, including the talk test, rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale, and heart rate monitoring. While all can be useful, today we’re focusing on the RPE scale which is a free, easy, and effective way to measure your intensity.




The RPE scale asks you to rate how hard you’re working, on a scale from 0 to 10, using the categories below.








Perceived Exertion


10:  Max Effort: Feels almost  impossible to keep going. Completely out of breath and unable to talk. Cannot  maintain for more than a very short time.


9: Very Hard Effort: Very  difficult to maintain exercise intensity. Can barely breath and speak only a  few words


7-8: Vigorous Effort:  Borderline uncomfortable. Short of breath, can speak a sentence.


4-6: Moderate Effort: Breathing  heavily but can hold a short conversation. Still somewhat comfortable but  becoming noticeably more challenging.


2-3: Light Effort: Feels like  you can continue for hours. Easy to breathe and carry on a conversation


1: Very Light Effort: Hardly any  exertion, but more than sleeping, watching TV, etc.




By becoming familiar with the RPE scale, you can continually assess your exercise intensity and find a level of exertion that is comfortable for you.  For most people staying around 4-6 on the scale (moderate effort) is a safe and effective zone. During high intensity workouts such as interval training, short bursts of very hard or vigorous effort can be interspersed with light effort.




In short, the benefits of using the RPE scale are that it’s free and easier than wearing a heart rate monitor.  You can even assess RPE without stopping to check your heart rate. Yet it still gives you an accurate representation of the intensity of your activity.




Still have questions about intensity, or want to learn more about other methods of measuring the intensity of activity?