Abigail Mackey

Column Abigail Mackey

Health columnist Abigail Mackey writes "The Written Remedy" for the Observer-Reporter.

The Written Remedy: Going to extremes for moderation

March 15, 2013

Almost everywhere you look, there are examples of the virtue in moderation.

Too much coffee can challenge your cardiovascular system, but just enough may ward off depression and Alzheimer’s. Over-exercising might buy you a series of steroid injections, but too much couch time could clog your arteries to the point of major surgery.

While I’m aware of the fickleness wellness news can bring, I still belong to the growing population of those who will turn their habits on a dime in the name of health consciousness.

Past specialties have included changing from Windex to homemade detergents in 30 minutes or less, cooking one vegetarian meal and one meaty meal for dinner without warning and a few vile recipes in the name of super foods. (Ahem, kale, ahem.)

So, darling, why do we go to extremes?

Why can’t we just be stuck in the middle with you?

Have we still not found what we’re looking for?

I think we’re set up for it.

Those media vultures (tongue in cheek) aren’t giving airtime or page space to the so-so, in-the-middle, ho-hum stories that might encourage more moderate thoughts. There aren’t documentaries on food producers who more or less have sanitary, humane practices or articles on the bacteria our immune systems readily overcome. The scandalous, the polarizing and the mind-blowing get all the publicity. Certainly, the more offensive extreme behavior is to your personal sensibilities, the more likely your are to adhere to the opposite opinion, maybe even abruptly.

Or, maybe jumping on board with an edgy health kick is an outlet for anxiety.

Punching the dance card of an extreme opinion might allow us to activate “approach motivation,” a state in which people become fixated on whatever cause they’re promoting. It’s a way to feel powerful and divert focus away from stress, at least according to some psychologists.

But, that’s right, isn’t it? When you join a cause – even if that means becoming a low-toxin house or having meatless Mondays – you feel powerful. You’re promoting something you believe to be righteous; you have the backing of your like-minded soul sisters and brothers. You’re a part of something, and you show it with all the lanyards and label pins money can buy.

Many of us could stand to stop pinball-wizarding our way through our health-related decision-making.

“Fad diets” have earned that moniker because, by definition, they’re short-term solutions. Why? Because no one can eat that much cabbage.

We need to adopt strategies that stand the test of time. Health recommendations based on one small study and funded by an interest group should not have the power to change our lifestyles.

While we strive to remove the hinderances to our health, take the time to appreciate the well-being consistency can bring.

Abigail Mackey is a registered nurse. For more quips and tips, refer to her blog, “The Written Remedy” (thewrittenremedy@blogspot.com). Abby can be reached at amackrn23@gmail.com or on Twitter at @AbigailMackey RN.



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