“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.” Robert H. Schuller
Today’s wellness message is all about doing just the right amount. Doing the right amount, not too much, not too little, is totally and completely based upon your very individual life, your goals, your resources, your experiences . . . everything about YOU. It’s personal. When it comes to fitness in particular, so many of us would benefit not from an “all or nothing” approach, but from a “the right amount for me” approach.
I want to address my dissenters right away. Yes, I recognize and am a big believer that with many things in life, to be extraordinary, you have to go the extra mile. But you have to know when that extra mile is really needed. On the health front, too many of us find ourselves in a cycle of up, down, frustration, and feeling substandard largely due to this “all or nothing,” approach: “I’m on a fantastic new diet ” . . . then life happens, and that diet slowly (or perhaps not so slowly) evaporates. Or, “I can’t afford to work with a trainer 3 days a week, so I’m not going to enroll help at all.” Or how about this one: “I don’t have the time for a 60 minute workout, so I’m not going to exercise at all today.” Or one I used to be constantly & embarrassingly guilty of: “I’ve already blown the day by eating 3 cookies, so I might as well have some cake too. I’ll start fresh tomorrow.” We tend to have this guilt-ridden, stressful, never-good-enough persona of food and exercise in our lives. We need to completely turn that around and drop it on its head . . . permanently. During my time at Procter & Gamble, leadership spoke often about recognizing when the 80 for the 20 is good enough. Doing just the right amount is all about maximizing your precious time, and setting you up for lasting success.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles
Reality is, this “all or nothing”, guilt-ridden societal attitude toward fitness often leads to inaction. After all, who wants to fail? I personally believe that losing 5 lbs and keeping it off is far better than losing 30, and then gaining 30+ back a few months later. Doing just the right amount sets us up for success. It’s about finding those changes and activities that actually work within our hectic lives that we can stick to, and starting there. These activities may be small. It may be 10 minutes of walking a few days a week. When it comes to our health, the old saying holds: something is better than nothing.
You might be thinking, if I’m not “all in,” does it mean that I’m not truly dedicated or committed? Absolutely not. Quite the opposite. It means that you look at the big picture, take real stock of your life, and set realistic goals and small changes that you can in fact be, and importantly stay, committed to. It’s not just a commitment, it’s a smart commitment.
Remember this: true wellness encompasses not only health & fitness, but also happiness, reduced stress, and an overall positive outlook on life. Being anxious because we didn’t fit in five, 60 minute workouts in this week, because we had an extra glass of wine while out with friends last weekend, or because we haven’t lost those extra pounds is no way to live. The next time you are tempted to beat yourself up over your perceived inadequacy on the diet or exercise front, just stop. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop feeling guilty. Stop trying to be perfect. Instead, give yourself major props for caring about your health. Then, do something positive. For example, eat a few vegetables. Go for a 5-10 min walk. Offer to bring a veggie tray to that upcoming party. Take five minutes to plan for a healthy upcoming meal. Add a small treat to the grocery list to thwart future temptations (I like frozen chocolate covered bananas). Turn the guilt into positive action, and jump-start a lasting, rewarding, approach to health that is just right for you.