Sinfully Good: How to Indulge in Vices the Right Way

crystal renn

Crystal Renn for Vogue Paris by Terry Richardson, October 2010

VICES BY THEIR very definition are “serious moral failings” or, if you’re taking a harder slant, “wicked or evil conduct.” The nature of a vice — at its best a habit that can land you into serious trouble with loved ones and strangers alike — is an overindulgence in something that ultimately can prove to be harmful, or even fatal. Gambling, drinking, drugs and sex can all be considered vices when taken in excess.

Of course, going too far in any endeavor can damage our bodies and our relationships. Water, which is essential to human life, can also drown us. Sugar, which feeds our cells, can lead to morbid obesity when consumed in ridiculous amounts (Super Big Gulp, anyone?). Calling someone you love 40 times a day to see how they are might lead to a restraining order. You get the idea…

Despite the many “wicked” temptations that draw us in, an upside to some of our vices does exist. The key, which may prove tricky for some, is not overdoing it. Once we can manage our guilty pleasures — at least to some degree — our “beautiful vices” may actually lead to better (and longer) lives. Here are eight sinful delights, that when taken in moderation, may turn out to be good for you.


Glorious, glorious sleep. If you get too much of it, people might say you’re lazy and not working as hard as you should. If you don’t get enough of it, you could tend to stress out fairly easily, all bloody day long.

When it comes to catching a bit of shuteye, it’s best to err on the side of too much. Sleep helps boost your immune system, recharge your batteries and reduce apprehension (about life) and any sense of overall depression you might be feeling. When you sleep your body is getting ready for another day of movement and creativity, which means if you can sleep a little longer, do so. Don’t play the “snooze alarm game.” Indulge in as much real sleep as you possibly can.


Too much sun can cause skin cancer. Even so, a lack of sun can hurt you as well. There’s a reason why people living in sun-deprived countries like Finland need to sit in front of sun lamps in order to avoid Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The sun makes us happy, and helps our bodies create vitamin D (a very important vitamin indeed). Natural sunlight also helps us stay alert and avoid the blues, so if you happen to be living in a cave, quit playing the Plato and get yourself into the sun — even if you’re a pale white ginger who needs SPF 40 sunblock to withstand the golden light AKA part vampire.

Red Wine

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating here. Too much red wine will do you in. Your nose might start to glow and people will whisper things like “lush” whenever you walk by. Just enough red wine (hopefully you’re a happy drunk or tipsy person) on the other hand, can do wonders for your health. While pundits still debate all of the great things red wine can do for you, decreasing your risk of dying from heart disease or stroke is one major positive point that might make it a good idea to keep on sipping on that glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dark Chocolate

If you haven’t heard of this one yet, you’ve either been locked up in a dungeon (the kinky or real kind), or you must really be avoiding all chocolate news. Dark chocolate can “most likely” (studies always seem to contradict previous studies, don’t they?) lower your blood pressure, help prevent heart attacks and provide you with life-giving antioxidants. Just remember, only a few reasonably-sized pieces of chocolate a day will do. Any more than that, and the accumulative collection of sugar could start to harm your body.


Yep, up to several cups of coffee a day can keep you awake for the busy life you lead. Those cups of daily java can also drop your risk of coming down with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as you get older — and for the youngsters out there, a little bit of a coffee habit can beat back heart-related diseases and several types of cancer. That’s good news for any coffee lover, and pretty much the entire city of Seattle.


Bumping uglies can be a great stress reliever. Sex is also associated with the production and release of endorphins and immunoglobulin A — an antibody that protects your wonderful body from infections. Just remember to practice safe sex, because if you catch an STD, all of those sexy sexual benefits will go right down the drain — sometimes quite literally.


Oh my God, you must have heard about Omega-3 fatty acids? You get those amazing fatty acids, which help protect your from cardiovascular disease, stroke, and from (drum roll, please)… fat. Good, natural monounsaturated fats that come from salmon, tuna, flaxseed oil, nuts and a variety of other seeds are perfectly fine to eat. Fat (the healthy kind), in moderate amounts, can lead to a fuller (hopefully not around the waistline, though) life. The all-out war against fat back in the day wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. Fat, when taken in moderation, can definitely be your friend.


Marijuana, Mary Jane, pot… no matter what you call it, or why you might choose to indulge in it, the use of cannabis does have some well-documented health benefits. With more and more states legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use, it’s worth noting some of reefer’s (not madness) better qualities. Pot can…

1. Slow the growth of cancerous tumors
2. Relieve pain
3. Treat and prevent glaucoma (as explained in a Peter Tosh song)
4. Control epileptic seizures
5. Alleviate rheumatoid arthritis discomfort
6. Slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease

… And so, so much more. Of course, if you indulge too much in the wacky tabacky, it can also slow your drive to be a productive person or ever get up off the sofa again — but hey, everything in moderation, right?

You caught that, right? Drop that cup of espresso, bar of dark chocolate and that lit joint. Good, now repeat after me: “Everything in moderation.” I’ll leave you with that mantra, and wish you a very long and healthy life — with just a little bit of the spice of vice.

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