Three truths and a lie about changing our bodies
Lie: If I can't do it perfectly, then I shouldn't even start. Alternate version: If I can't be perfect, then my efforts don't really count.
I hear this reasoning more often than any other when talking to friends and clients. Just this week I've heard 3 different versions of this statement.
I understand. We are constantly inundated with encouragement to go big and do it perfectly. When you look at weight loss programs or influencers on Instagram, they don't say things like "act small and consistently" or "lose 4 pounds in 4 weeks" because that's just not sexy.
So when all we hear are calls to action to "go big", we feel like we need this perfect spot in our lives for it to fit before we can even start. We end up waiting around because it never really fits. While some of those same Instagram influencers can take a week off of their lives to "cleanse," I don't know any of my friends who can do the same.
So what do we do, those of us with lives that don't stop just because we set some new goals? Choose something small and go for it. Feel free to be totally clumsy when you first begin. But begin anyway. Be okay with failure. But also be ready to start again right away.
Truth: Consistent small actions trumps inconsistent big actions everyday.
When you read this, you might think..."duh!" But, what I'm talking about here is this feeling like if we're not going big, then we'll never see any results (see above). Choosing huge health goals sounds awesome in the beginning, but once that motivation fades, we sometimes find we've bitten off more than we can chew (pun intended).
Now I'm not here to tell you not to make big goals. I am here, however, to recommend that you break those goals up into smaller goals and go after the small goals (we want guaranteed success!). For example, how about the goal to completely remove added sugar from your diet? While this is one that many people dive into all at once, there is also a slower approach that allows you to adapt your life and learn during the process. These small goals could be:
1. Remove sugar from morning coffee. Experiment with different ways of enjoying your morning beverage, just do it without sugar. Got this one? Move on to #2.
2. Read labels for EVERYTHING you buy (that has a label). Has sugar been hiding in some of your favorite foods. Start shopping for/researching replacements. Found some good replacements? Try number 3 if you haven't already.
3. Commit to x number of days a week with no added sugar. Maybe that's 5 days a week for you right now, maybe it's less. Commit and pay attention to how your body feels.
Truth: I tried "xyz diet" and I didn't see the results they said I would. I didn't fail, that diet just wasn't right for me.
News flash: any diet that claims to be right for every person is lying. We are all different and our bodies respond differently to everything. So, if you tried something new (and I mean really tried, followed the rules, and gave your body time to adapt) and still didn't feel the way or see the results that were promised, it's not you. That style is just not right for you.
This can be hard to accept if we see people around us seeing the kinds of results we hope for, and then for us it falls flat. That's when I say it's time to take with you what you learned (did you find new foods or practices that do work for you or vice versa) and move on.
On another note, this can also happen as we age. I know, everybody hates to hear this one. "But this worked great in my twenties!" Just as our bodies are different than that of our neighbor, they are different than they were a decade ago. Don't cling to long held beliefs when they no longer serve you.
Truth: Learning resiliency after failure is more beneficial than perfection.
How many times have you been following a "plan," and you had an "off-plan" meal (whether planned or unplanned) and you felt like a failure? That feeling of failure sent you spiraling and you thought, "I already screwed up, I might as well just eat whatever I want for the rest of the day." Next thing you know, that day turns into the rest of the week, which somehow extends through the end of the year.
First of all, an "off-plan" meal defines nothing about you or your self worth. You are not bad because you ate all the fries.
These things happen. The experience is actually quite valuable. What can you learn from them? Did you go into a meal tooo hungry so your willpower was shot? Maybe don't wait so long between meals next time. Did you eat out and forget to look at the menu online and make a plan? Always have a plan! Or perhaps, was this meal off-plan, but TOTALLY WORTH IT? Worth it is worth it!
Whatever the case may be, don't just let it pass. Accept that it happened. Learn what you can. And then MOVE ON.
By moving on, I mean choose a healthy, nutrient dense meal for your VERY NEXT MEAL. Always go right back to it for your next meal. Even if it's a clumsy version of a healthy meal, eat it. Cast that vote to be the person who always follows up an indulgence with a healthy meal!
These are the exact issues I like to help my clients work through. I like to take your big goals and turn them into doable actions that fit into your crazy lives. So much so that I created my new guide "Five Actions you can take Today for your Healthy that Don't Require Perfection." Sign up below for your own copy!