Mayor Bloomberg, Soda, and the Art of Moderation

NYC Soda Ban

Last week, New York City Board of Health approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on large-sized sodas. Nine months from now, if you want to suck down 32-ounces of Coke in one sitting, you’ll have to order two 16-ounce drinks.

The whole thing has New Yorkers all fired up and the rest of us are watching with interest. This isn’t the first time New York has affected cultural behavior through government oversight; in 2008 the city mandated that fast food restaurants post calorie information on menu boards. The requirement may affect restaurants all across the country – a 2010 law could go into effect before the end of the year. This week, McDonald’s began voluntarily posting it’s calorie information on menu boards all across the country.

All this hoopla surrounding what people should or shouldn’t eat and drink and whether the government should be involved generates strong opinions. But whether or not you think Mayor Bloomberg should be able to tell you how much Mountain Dew to drink with your Big Mac, there is a valid lesson here that most of us already know but tend to forget: Moderation is a good thing.

The Grey In Between

The children’s story of The Three Bears is a great lesson in moderation. Your porridge should be hot, but not too hot. Your bed should be soft, but not too soft. The story teaches kids that the world doesn’t have to be black or white . . . the grey in between is usually where the good stuff is found. This doesn’t just apply to what you eat and drink . . . it applies everywhere. Baby Bear had it figured out; you can too.

At Work

Sure, working 80 hour weeks at the office might earn you a big promotion. But when will you see your family? Or take care of yourself? It won’t matter if you have the corner office when you get divorced, go home to an empty apartment and then have a heart attack alone on your Cheeto dust covered couch.

Even if you love your job, it doesn’t need to consume you. Find the balance in between 80-hour weeks and being that guy without a job who plays video games all day. If you run your own business, hire the help you need to get away every now and then.

Volunteer Work

If you’re one of those wonderful people who gives your time to help others out, you’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of worthy causes that need your attention. The school needs you to bring 4 dozen cupcakes to the bake sale to raise money for the art program, then help sell them for four hours on Tuesday. The homeless shelter needs you to staff the front desk on Wednesday night. The autism foundation needs you to help put on the 5K. The hospital needs you to comfort nervous parents in the ER waiting room two days a week. The world is full of problems that need solving and you’re just the person to do it.

This is a great way to just get completely burned out. And if you aren’t using a bit of moderation when giving your time, the results won’t be good. It might seem as if your family doesn’t need you nearly as much as the hungry kids at the soup kitchen. After all, they have a nice home and a kitchen full of food. But they need to see you. It might seem selfish to worry about getting to the gym when the patients at the hospice need your attention. But if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of others?

Speaking of the Gym . . .

While it’s great to work out every day, it’s not necessary to spend four hours bulking up. There’s the guy with the huge biceps and thick neck who does two hundred squats with a bjillion pounds of weight and drinks three protein shakes a day. Then there’s the guy who eats three Big Macs for lunch, sucks it down with four 16-ounce sodas and then sits on his badonkadon for four hours watching reality TV. Aim to be the guy in between. Maybe the guy who has some nice muscle tone and decent cardiovascular capacity, who eats healthy most of the time, but occasionally has a Big Mac and one 32 or 16-ounce soda.