When Enough is Enough and Why More is Not Better
I think we can all relate to the very American concept: “if some is good, more is better.” This philosophy affects our financial lives, our culinary lives, our athletic lives and especially our work lives.
But, in so many cases, that ideology is just not true. There are arguments for doing too much or having too much to reach certain goals, but in most cases, too much is just too much.
2Chili and I have had a lot of change in our lives lately, which has let me have time to reflect on “too little” vs. “too much” vs. “just right.” I thought I’d share a few thoughts on this topic.
When Too Much Makes Sense – Reach a Big, Bad Goal
For much of 2011, I notched up my training considerably to prepare for Ironman Boise 70.3. This was a huge “bucket list” goal of mine, and I knew it would require a significant commitment. My body adapted to this increased workload quite well, and I got to the point where I needed to ride my bike for 3 hours on Saturday and run for 2 hours on Sunday or I was a very cranky customer. It took several weeks – probably a month, really – after the race for my workout levels to resume a much more “normal” volume without a feeling of remorse for not doing enough.
Since reducing my training, I have experienced some interesting side effects. I lost 7 pounds by doing less with zero attempts to lose weight. I have miraculously hit my ideal “racing weight,” which is less than I have weighed in about 10 years with basically no effort. I gained quite a bit more time back in my day. I have been substantially less hungry.
These are pretty normal side effects for endurance athletes on a periodization schedule. There are times of the year your volume is high, and times it is low – it is accepted that you can’t have high volume all year round and remain sane – you have to know when enough is enough for you, and, you have to have breaks.
When Having Too Stuff Much is Too Much
We are admitted owners of the too much is too much issue, and we’re actively working to resolve this problem.
Take for instance, our ski quiver. A couple pairs of skis is good – it provides choice for a variety of conditions. Too many is bad, as we were reminded about recently as we unloaded roughly 40 pairs from our basement in Seattle, hauled them up a big hill into the garage, later packed them into the moving truck, unloaded them from the moving truck into our new porch, then into the living room, and finally into the garage. Our garage looks like the show “Hoarders” did a sporting goods edition.
This isn’t even all of them – you can’t see what’s on the back wall. I am sharing this to illustrate that there becomes a point when too much of anything is just too much, and the returns of the excess are either diminishing or detrimental. The key is recognizing this turning point and doing something about it.
For what it’s worth, the skis have been sorted, and a big chunk of them are going to the used sporting goods store in early October to sell, and those with sentimental value (all the old long K2s) are becoming Adirondack chairs very soon.
Why More is Not Better when it Comes to Food
Both of those examples were the lead up to talk about the food! The “more is not better” idea can overwhelmingly be applied to food. People often write off eating too much food because it is healthy. Have you ever had these thoughts or heard someone say:
- Olive oil is healthy, so I don’t worry about it
- Meat is protein, so I eat as much as I please
- Salt is a dietary requirement, so I don’t worry about sodium
- Diet Coke has no calories, so I drink it instead of water
- Just because olive oil is “healthy,” does not mean you should use it as if it has no calories (‘cause it is still oil – and oil packs a big calorie punch).
- Just because meat is protein doesn’t justify one person having a 16 oz steak in one sitting (3 oz is a “normal” portion of meat, if you eat it).
- Just because salt is needed by the body doesn’t mean it should go on everything, especially because the average American diet exceeds the “tolerable” daily allowance of salt by at least 50% and recommended daily allowance by more than double
- Just because Diet Coke has no calories doesn’t mean it doesn’t impact your body in other ways (like making you crave sweets, not to mention the variety of chemicals included in the drink to make it no-calorie)
I am not saying I am perfect in any of these areas (who is?), but I do try to practice a varied diet and keep an eye on how my body reacts to various things. I know I feel bad when I drink too much coffee, and I know I feel good when I eat lots of leafy greens. Things I used to enjoy like candy bars or donuts make me feel awful, because I greatly reduced the sugar in my diet about a year ago, and my tolerance for sugar is really low. Our bodies are amazingly adaptable to what we feed them – but too much of anything can have negative effects.
Those are my thoughts on the “More is Not Better” issue. What are yours?