Are you someone who, when life throws a curve ball, because conditions are less perfect to maintain your health efforts – you tend to just throw in a towel and put a “diet” on a time-out until life corrects itself?
This could be due to a holiday, new baby, new job, stress at work, stress at home, moving house, relationship break-up, illness, celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc.? Or simply things not going your way and relief we get from even just a thought of a time-out while we sort our mindset out, has become as addictive as the sugar we know we also still crave for.
I get it. It is almost a completely logical thing to do. And you are not the only one who thinks that.
Many have developed a true habit out of it as it gives a true sense of relief to hit the pause. We have convinced ourselves that conditions need to be perfect if we are going to ever achieve our health and fitness goals.
“Starting afresh” or being in “the right frame of mind” or waiting for “the right time” is an excuse I hear often and yet, it is only an illusion that we created. We convinced ourselves that next time will be different because it can only be ALL or NOTHING. You can only do your best when conditions are perfect. When life is more perfect.
Of course not, because when is life ever perfect and predictable?
This illusion is the reason why many attempt their health efforts in January. Statistics show that half give up within the first month. Or why many wait for holiday to pass or for Monday to finally start. Again seeking that perfect wave of conditions… that will soon come to elude us.
The truth is, the illusion that something will be different next time and this “all or nothing” attitude is truly ruining everyone’s health efforts and developing a bad habit of hitting a “reset” button as soon as going gets tough. It certainly does not develop resilience when under pressure to simply keep going.
It is a cop out.
As I said – I do understand. But it does not make it right. Because it is not.
Attitude of “All or Nothing” ALWAYS results in Nothing. It is also yet another form of procrastination and self-sabotage.
I know this because over the past 15 years I have come across many who do just that. Weeks, months or even years later – they are always worse off. And I think it is heart breaking. For them as well as for me. Because I know how much effort it took to get to the results they last had.
The truth is, life indeed will sometimes throw us at the deep end which will challenge our commitment. I see health being first that go out of the window.
And I really get that. I get that because it happened to me very recently in the intensity that I have not yet experienced before. And I am grateful for the insight experience gave me.
When I lost my mum in February 2019, my routine went out of the window. And I developed this sort of guilt around it like I did not have enough grief in my life already. It took me weeks to actually realise – I DID NOT hit the pause button. Whatever I was doing – I was still going…
Instead of my 5:30AM Miracle Morning routine – I was getting up at 6 AM even on a Sunday and, while most mornings I was feeling quite sad, I remained grateful for this life, I took a good look outside trying to find something beautiful, a flower, a bird, something green with life or a text from a friend that would anchor me and set my day in a positive direction.
I was not doing my exercises, but I got myself walking to clear my head. I did not slip into skipping breakfast or having whatever I fancied, but I stayed with my healthy Formula 1 breakfast. My meal choices where not always great, but I kept eating regularly, trying my best to choose healthy options. Then as I got better and as I was feeling better – I was choosing better too.
This was not a TIME OUT. This was an example of doing one’s best in a very tough circumstance.
As Don Miguel Ruiz in his Four Agreements states: “Under any circumstance, simply do your best!” Your best will change depending on the circumstances, but there is a reason why it does not say – “hit the pause button and give yourself a break until circumstances are more favourable”.
In the same way as you can not just stop being a parent or a spouse when going gets though or walking out of work any moment it becomes stressful (expecting you will have a job back when you are in the “right frame of mind” and stress free), there is no reason why anyone would think health is any different.
Life simply does not work that way. And health is a part of life that it does not work that way either. There is simply no time-out if we want to keep making progress.
The only way is going forward.
I am sure you see the logic right there.
So, what is the solution for you if you can relate to this?
It clearly is to stop stalling and sabotaging yourself with constantly going from hot to cold and to simply commit to doing your best depending what the circumstances are knowing that your best will change as life circumstances change.
It is also about stopping beating yourself up when you have a little lapse. Because it does not have to be perfect. Because life is beautiful, but not perfect. It is not meant to be. It is about recognising the beauty in the imperfections.
Keeping up with SOME healthy habits is way better than dropping the ball completely. Because dropping the ball completely is just never going to produce a good outcome. Trying our best will always beat any total lapse!
So, let’s get smart about health and our attitudes towards health for once.
Many start strict regimes to get the results and I have one just like that with our Challenges, but, thinking that it is a magic bullet is naive, to say the least. It is a Reboot, like a reset that computer needs from time to time, but, after that, we still need to look after it daily.
There are many health/ nutrition/fitness plans around and I am here to tell you that each of them work. Some are better than others, but, they all work. If you work it. Problem is having a shortsighted attitude of using them to achieve your body and health transformation and then doing nothing after that like Health is tangible goal that is achieved once and lasts a lifetime.
It is a daily effort. For the rest of your life.
Seeking support from the experts like coaches, support groups, fitness professionals, etc is important for many as it usually comes with much needed support, solutions, accountability and health education so you can truly build the right skills for development of long term habits that will sustain your healthy, active lifestyle. This is very much recommended as many who wish to live healthier lack the knowledge and support to achieve it on their own, as research suggests.
The following is also true – you want to learn to sustain good healthy habits under real life situations too. That is when it matters the most. Because you will live most of your life not under a short term intense health plan where conditions are perfect, but faced with all the challenges that life throws at you. You still need to have your breakfast, fuel your body with good nutrition, exercise your body, avoid sugar, etc.
You need to accept that it is absolutely fine to have weeks when you do not go to the gym, but don’t give up on walking. When your snack is less perfect, but at least you are trying to stabilise your blood sugar with some alternative. Sometimes it will be a bought salad rather than a carefully prepared balanced meal. And that is OK. SOMETHING is always better than NOTHING.
Buying into perfectionism is always a losing game. We won’t feel like doing it, we will not always get it right, but doing your best under any circumstance beats giving up any time. Always. We want progress, not the perfection, as Anthony Robbins teaches. And he is the master of the inner game if you do not believe me.
Stop feeling guilty about not being perfect. On a scale 1-5 where 5 is your best effort and 1 the least, even 1 is better than no effort.
I think you get this.
Of course, it may not give you the results you are after, but, though times do not last, so you will have your chance to do your best in better circumstances. Until then, and the point I am trying to make here is – if you have a healthy, active lifestyle formula that worked a magic for you at some point – do not give up on it completely with a view you will go back to it when time is more perfect. Time is never perfect and you can always do SOMETHING at any circumstance.
Just keep moving forward and develop a habit of always doing something right.
Perhaps, try to understand your obstacles and your triggers and try to plan better. Anticipate challenges in advance and act accordingly. So you can just do better. And you WILL do better – because you are trying something rather than nothing.
I hope you are agreeing with me at this point. Some of you, anyway.
Another thing – develop a “glass is always full” perspective and, when times are tough, feel good about doing at least something right (as opposed to feeling bad about things you are not doing)!
That is how you truly stand a chance of moving in the right direction and achieving progress.
There won’t be anything stopping you with that mindset!
Here is to you and your health.
Your partner in Health,