Today’s piece is not high level neurobiology, more like some thoughts on simple everyday approach to life.
I have two examples where I recently didn’t practice moderation, one story you are likely familiar with, another might be new to you.
Lack of Moderation # 1:
My first moderation story resolved around drinking wine. I hadn’t drank any alcohol for the last 5 months (other than a glass of wine with dinner for 3 nights), but that changed recently when I was invited over to dinner with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. Long story short is I drank too much wine and stayed up too late. The next day I suffered the consequences, and the day was a write off for getting something productive done.
Lack of Moderation # 2:
The second incidence occurred this weekend and had nothing to do with alcohol intake. I went on a long run/hike of 4+ hours. I am currently in reasonable shape due to a consistent running program of a 5-6 day week of 30 minutes to 1 hour of running, but not too much long stuff. Normally, a 4+ hour endeavor like this would not have been a problem, but the intensity was also very high. Longer than normal length and higher than normal intensity is a bad combination.
When I made it back home the next 4 hours were lost as I was sprawled out on the couch drinking plenty of fluids (sounds very similar as a night of too much alcohol intake). I was not capable of (or at least didn’t have the motivation) mental work that I should have been doing. I am not sure this is true for everybody but if I am wiped out physically I am not able to do serious mental work (maybe tied in with my whole D2 information brain efficiency theory. So, much like a hangover there was loss of production. By the time I semi-recovered at night all I managed was some light reading.
Moderation when starting an exercise program:
Normally, I tell friends if they are starting a new exercise program after a layoff is to start with far less, and far easier, than what they think they should do. Many times you go through your first exercise session and it feels like you didn’t do anything, but 24 or 48 hours later the pain sets in. The problem with this is if you are sore you might have less incentive to get the next workout in.
Now in my situation while I had been on a regular running program the length and intensity was more than my body is currently use to. I knew I was in trouble when the pain started while running downhill (eccentric exercise produces a high level of muscle damage) even during the outing, compared to 1 or 2 days later. So you really know you have overdone it if the pain has set in during your exercise bout. I knew early on that the day was probably going to be too much, but I really wanted to test myself on this run/hike because it was one I did on a fairly regular basis 13 or so years ago. This is a hike I would take my friends on when we were in our twenties. The only good news despite going fairly fast I never felt like I needed to take a stop to catch my breath, while I remember every one of my friends when they were in their twenties having to stop several times just to have a chance at making it to the top.
Recovery in your 20’s compared to out of your 20s:
In your twenties moderation is less of an issue, you recover better from a night of high alcohol intake (maybe because they are in serious ‘training’ by consistent intake), and from excessive bouts of exercise. I know in my twenties even if I wasn’t doing regular exercise I could have attacked this hike/run (ok it would have only been a hike) and not suffered.
Once past your twenties (potentially even your late 20s) it would be wise to start practicing moderation – at least if you don’t want to lose too many productive hours. The other argument is in certain cases it might be worth it. For me I guess the beautiful run/hike that included running through a forest with no one in sight, and the stunning view at the top, and a chance to test myself was worth it in this case – but there was a cost.
(update: suprisingly I was able to get in a run 24 hours after my over exercetion but currently 40 hour after my legs are quite tender so at best it will be another slow jog tonight – 2 days latter and I am still paying the cost of not practicing moderation).