So you’ve started this new diet, of course on Monday because any other day is just wrong…right? You’re doing really well and aren’t eating any of the ‘forbidden foods’ that the diet says will make you super fat and gross. You’re hitting all the requirements down to the letter and your life is about to be better.
You’ve also started working out, this new program that is supposed to be great and get you lean within no time! Abs, toned legs, nice arms, the works, a great body is in your future!
Basically you’ve gone from 0 to 100 overnight. The whole week has been going great and you’re unstoppable.
Then it’s Friday. You’ve got a party that you can’t miss, it’s your best friends’ birthday after all. You go to the party with the optimistic intention to only moderately indulge in the great artisanal foods and your friends’ famously delicious cocktails.
You fail. Your intentions shatter after the second cocktail. You eat all the food. You drink all the drinks. Fast forward.
It’s the next day, a hungover Saturday morning, and you feel bad. You remember your intentions but you’ve screwed up anyway. You come to the conclusion that this weekend is lost and that Monday you can start again with eating healthy and working out. Mondays are magic after all.
Consistency vs. perfection
In the first two blogs we’ve discussed the rider, the elephant and the path and that it can be helpful to change your personal environment to suit your goals, and that creating healthy habits can be hard but worth it. Also we hope we’ve made clear that we all fail from time to time, and that’s okay. It’s normal.
In the above scenario the rider (the rational mind) was doing great and set up a good routine to lose fat and get fit. However at the party the elephant took over (emotional mind), and the path (the surrounding) was filled with things that didn’t really contribute to the original goal.
This is actually not a problem because life happens sometimes. It probably shouldn’t happen too often of course, depending on your goals, but it’s a small thing in the grand scheme of things.
But instead of one blow out day, which would have been one day out of seven in the week, our protagonist chose to ‘start again’ after the weekend, meaning half the week of not-the-best-decisions.
After that, arguably good (I mean: it was fun) or bad (not great for your goals probably) evening the protagonist could have steered back to the path and continued on with the newly adopted habits but fell into the ‘Magical Monday’ trap.
When it comes to health and nutrition, consistency trumps perfection every time. A lot of people try to wait for the perfect moment to start something new. Well, the perfect moment doesn’t exist. And once they get started they want to have the perfect diet. The perfect diet doesn’t exist either (every diet works as long as a negative energy balance is created) and neither does the perfect workout routine.
The point is perfect doesn’t exist and life happens from time to time. What often happens when people fall of the wagon is that they feel guilty and instead of facing and accepting what happened they try to create a new and fresh goal and ‘start again’.
Or even worse, after failing a few times people just give up. They stop trying, at least for a while and sometimes forever.
Instead try to go for consistency. Try to eat well most of the time for a very long time. Try to do your workouts most of the time for a very long time. If you continue on, progress will accumulate, maybe more slowly at first than if you’d do it perfectly but it will make for a more sustainable and more enjoyable process.
We would say that doing something ‘good’ or even ‘reasonable’ for a long time is a lot better than doing something ‘perfect’ for a short time. Allow life to happen, it’s supposed to be fun after all.