So today I ate cookies. Normally I would feel really guilty about this but this time it was different. In the past I would think of ways to compensate for my behavior. I thought that to get results I had to do everything perfectly every time, it was all-or-nothing.
Having cookies meant that I wasn’t going to get results. The last 18 months have been really transforming. I used to focus on every little thing that I was eating. I would make sure that I got to the gym at least 4 times a week. If those things didn’t happen, I felt like a failure and that this wasn’t possible for me. I know that seems crazy but looking at all the inspiration out there online it felt like I had to do it perfectly. So I would start to do some compensating behaviors like try to schedule in the gym when I definitely didn’t have time to do it. Or skipping a meal or eating less at the following meal to make up for my bad behavior. I was going out of my way, spending less time with family and friends in order to make up for the cookies that I ate.
Maybe you’ve felt this way before, or maybe you do currently. Often times, I think, we all think in all-or-nothing terms. We’re all perfectionists at heart. If it can’t be done perfectly then why even bother?
I used to think that way too, sometimes I still do. Let’s be honest, it never really fully goes away.
But here’s what I learned. To get results it doesn’t have to be done perfectly. And in fact it shouldn’t be because that’s a really high expectation that we can’t possibly achieve, trust. So thinking that we have to do it perfectly automatically sets us up for failure. And when that happens we try to do everything we can to make up for our “failure”. So this time instead of feeling guilty and trying to compensate for the cookies I just decided to enjoy them (they were monster cookies). Because as we know doing one thing every now and then is not going to damage our results. It’s what we do consistently that gets us results. Plus you want to be able to enjoy your life.
Here’s what I’ve done over the last 18 months or so. I stopped counting calories, and I forgave myself, literally daily.
I let myself enjoy foods that I like and take time off from the gym (without the guilt), and I got better results than when I was trying to do it perfectly (this literally blew my mind).
While I’m still learning I have some tips to share with you.
1st: what you eat and how much you exercise does not make you a good or bad person. Being who you are and being kind to others is really what makes you a good or bad person.
2nd: when you let go of trying to be perfect you’ll be surprised what happens. For me I was able to get into the best shape of my life without feeling deprived. And I was able to decide from time to time to spend time with my friends over going to the gym. And that taught me balance and consistency and how important that is. So don’t be afraid to fail because that’s how you learn what works best for you.
3rd: if you don’t like to count calories don’t count them. Eating shouldn’t be a math equation, it should be something that nourishes your body and that you enjoy. It’s time that you enjoy eating and not make it feel like a punishment or a chore. While I’m not saying go eat whatever the hell you want, it is okay to indulge from time to time because consistency is more important than perfection, and it actually makes living a healthy lifestyle achievable.
4th: if you don’t like to go to the gym then don’t go to the gym. Same rules apply, exercise and activity shouldn’t be a punishment, keep trying out things until you find something that you enjoy (for me, that was Crossfit). And if you like to workout at home I’ve got tons of ideas for you.
5th: it’s time to stop comparing yourself to others. I used to do this all. the. time. Sometimes it still gets me. I would get down on myself, my behavior, and my body because of it. It wasn’t helpful, and it made living the FitLife a negative experience. Unfollow people that make you feel bad about yourself, your goals, and your body. Stay in your own lane, put your hater blockers on. You’ll accomplish a whole lot more when you do that.
When you want the damn cookie or the chips and salsa, just eat it. That way you don’t end up binging on it later feeling guilty and shameful about your actions. It is definitely doable to incorporate foods that you enjoy into your lifestyle from time to time and still get results. I can tell you that first hand. And that’s why I always say consistency over perfection. Because I’m living proof that it exists.