I have noticed a bit of a trend lately with clients. They always start off so eager, enthusiastic and full of questions at the beginning of their nutrition or fitness programs. They put their lives on hold for two weeks whilst they diligently follow their plans with close to 100% commitment. But then something happens, they get stuck at work & skip the gym or they accept a social invite & end up having 20 drinks & a Burger King on the way home. Sound familiar?! So compliance starts to slip & commitment wanes until silently, clients throw in the towel believing that they’ve failed & that maybe now is just not a good time to prioritise their health and well being. Sadly this is life! Life is not perfect, it’s messy & difficult & often gets in the way of our goals and plans. With just 7 days until Christmas I know there’s more than just my clients out there who are feeling this way.
Whether it’s Christmas, a new relationship, a rough week at work or all those things at the same time, somehow now is just never a good time to start working towards a better version of ourselves. The thing is with obstacles is that often there’s ways around them. I think the real problem lies in people confusing this notion of themselves as “better” with an idea of “perfect”. Newsflash, we’re not lifeless plastic dolls! Being perfect is not in our DNA, and sadly there is no secret written code to get us there. We’re human beings and making mistakes is inherent in our nature. As I’ve come to learn this is actually a good thing! We each have a brain and a heart and so we have thoughts and feelings; this is what makes us unique & beautiful, not some obscure notion of what society portrays as perfect.
Take it from a long-standing, exhausted perfectionist, all perfectionism does is kill performance. Whether it be from burning out or feeling like a failure or whether it just stops you from trying something new because of a fear of failure. Perfectionism breeds criticism and control and it sucks! The good news is that we don’t need to be perfect in order to succeed, all we have to do is a little better today than we did yesterday. All we really need is progress, not perfection. And just to prove it, do the math here with me. What’s better, driving yourself crazy for 2 months with 100% compliance, burning out and giving up for the rest of the year, or sustaining a “little better each day” approach for a whole year, with the flexibility to wipe the slate clean whenever you have a bad day or week, knowing that tomorrow you can try again to do a little better? A bit of a no-brainer don’t you think?!
Every time you think about food and/or exercise you are presented with a choice and you are making a decision. Ask yourself what is it that matters to you right now? Is it feeling good? Connecting with loved ones? Nourishing your body? Feeding your soul? Observing family traditions? Or taking the edge off a tough day? You get to decide your priorities with your actions and the choices you make. If nutrition or fitness isn’t a priority today or tomorrow or next week, it’s OK! There’s no judgment. Sometimes its more important to prioritise other things, like expanding your database of experiences or just indulging guilt-free so you can share a special moment with a loved one.
Remember though that food is a choice. I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty, in fact I want you to enjoy mince pies & mulled wine (I’m certainly going to!) or anything else that you would normally class as “off-limits”, enjoy it now! Just do it consciously & slowly. Savour it without regret, enjoying every layer of taste and the texture of every bite. And don’t forget, when you feel like you’re going off track ask yourself what one thing did you do better today than yesterday? Did you eat more veggies? Drink more water? Walk for 5 minutes longer than yesterday? Ask yourselves these questions & keep track, be happy with your progress no matter how small it may seem. Even if you think your progress is slow, don’t forget, it’s still progress and progress is the key to your success.