There’s a fine line between being healthy and turning up your nose at a birthday cake somebody lovingly baked for you. You don’t want to be “that person” – the one no one can be around because you’ve taken your health obsession to the point you don’t enjoy living freely anymore. You’re so rigid about your health that it’s unhealthy.

Kidding aside, extreme health can be even more serious. Exercise that’s inappropriately intense for you can damage your muscles or even your heart. And for some, a strict diet can turn into disordered eating or even a full-on eating disorder.

Strive for a more moderate lifestyle, and you’ll be better in the long run, for a number of reasons.

Elevated Energy

Working out in moderation should leave you feeling energized and good, not like you need to cancel all your plans to go home and soak in a bathtub full of ice. Extreme calorie deprivation will leave you literally exhausted and cause mood swings that can make you miserable.

Maintained Motivation

If you set out to dead-lift three times your body weight after working out for a week or two, you’re going to be pretty disappointed and probably disheartened as well. Likewise, switching from the Standard American Diet to a raw vegan diet overnight might seem like a good idea, but it will be much more difficult to make it last than making a few small changes to your diet. Reasonable goals will help you maintain your motivation.

Lasting Effects

Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady wins the race, but fast and furious can lead to burnout and injuries. Keep your eye on the prize (the prizes are long-term, sustainable goals, not dropping 25 pounds in three weeks for a vacation). Eventually you’ll find real satisfaction, even if it takes a little longer than you expected.

Greater Self-Awareness

Maybe you don’t actually like waking up at 5:00 AM to do three hours of yoga six days a week. Maybe sometimes you do want a cookie. Accepting these truths means you can find exercise you enjoy and will keep on doing for the long haul. It also means that you won’t hate yourself if you do eat that cookie, and you might even have a more wholesome one at the ready, instead of binge eating an entire package of processed ones from a deli or gas station.

Small changes that make a big difference can be more powerful than extreme actions that hold you back. Getting to know yourself and enjoying all that life has to offer is the greatest reward that true moderation can bring.