Let me tell you something that you already inherently know, but maybe don’t love admitting to yourself:
There is only one person that can truly control your journey with fitness/nutrition, and that person is you.
While I would hope that you would be able to receive that statement with your head held high in confidence, I know that for most of us, myself included, such an idea can quickly send us into a spiral of shame and negative self talk.
“Why is it that I always make these lofty goals and can never follow through with them?”
“If I only had more discipline, I would have achieved my goals years ago.”
“I’ve been grinding for weeks now and I’m not seeing any progress. What’s the point of all this?”
If you find yourself walking down that path, stop. Take a deep breath and hear this: you do not have to do it all. In fact, you shouldn’t try and do it all. Going from 1 workout a week to 5 workouts a week, giving the middle finger to all processed sugar and shifting from never touching vegetables to consuming 5 cups of them a day is far from a setup for success. It’s much closer to a guarantee for failure. To put it succinctly, the “all or nothing” mentality rarely gets us “all” and it usually gets us “nothing”.
Everything I’ve said above is true but it is only the first half of the story. No all. Not nothing. Always something. Instead of thinking of your fitness and nutrition efforts as having an “on” or “off” switch, think of them existing on a dial system. During different seasons or life, effort can be dialed up or dialed down. The key here is to never turn the dial off completely. Here are some examples of how this could play out as seasons of life change:
- My husband and I just moved into a new home and we are spending a lot of our time remodeling. Because I can’t do my normal 5 days a week at the gym, I can dial down my fitness a little bit and commit to 3 30-minute workouts/week and a few extra walks with my dog.
- I’m on vacation with my family and don’t have the capability to meal prep like I normally would. I can dial down my nutrition a few notches and commit to having lean protein with each meal and veggies with at least 2 meals/day.
- I’m traveling for a work conference, my hours are long and I don’t have any control over the food I’m given. I can dial down my fitness and commit to doing a 10-minute workout in my hotel room everyday. I can also commit to only consuming alcohol one night while I am at the conference.
- Or, you know, our city is under a mandatory quarantine because of a novel virus spreading like wildfire, and I won’t be able to make it to the gym or get everything I need for my usual meal prep. I can dial both down notches and commit to just moving my body around the house and making what I can with what I have -- while keeping my water intake high.
You get the picture. Perfection is not a part of normal life. If we wait for the “perfect time” to start or restart our nutrition and fitness journeys, we likely will forever be in a holding pattern. We have to do the best we can with what we have… whatever that may be. We are real humans living heckin’ messy human lives -- that’s what we’re working with.