Perfect is bunk and it’s destroying your progress

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good!

How many times have you started a diet or training regime only to have it fall to pieces a few weeks in? How many times have you started over – knowing that this time, you probably won’t succeed in reaching your goals?

It is absolutely staggering that the majority of people are unhappy with the way they look – and look at others with an attitude of “if only I looked like that, then I could be happy” and then expect this negative outlook to give them the ability to love their bodies enough to nourish them properly and train hard. So many people feel this way. It is a serious, serious problem – and I’m saying that with 10 years experience as an academic psychologist. This attitude is toxic and it will seriously impede your progress towards your goals!

You don’t have to have 100% dietary compliance in order to reach your goals. But what you do have to do is consistently steer yourself towards those goals. Fallen off the wagon and over indulged? Doesn’t matter. Your goals haven’t changed. Get back on track. You can correct your progress literally with the next thing you put in your mouth. This is actually really liberating – you can adjust your sails and be back on track before you know it.

Do not wait for tomorrow. Do not wait for Monday. Do not wait for new year. Your goals are important – simply make your next choice one that gets you a step closer to where you want to be.

Ask yourself: do I still want this?

If the answer to that is yes, then keep working towards it. If you can’t stop thinking about your goal, don’t stop working for it. You are worthy of your own efforts! You know that in order to lose fat you need to be in a caloric deficit (that means that you have to eat fewer calories than your body needs to maintain fat). It’s no mystery. You don’t need a magic pill. What you do need is a reality check:

  • This will take longer than you want it to. Do it anyway.
  • This will not be a linear process – you may not lose weight every week, even when your dietary compliance is 100%. It simply doesn’t work like that.
  • When it doesn’t go your way, quitting will not speed it up. Chucking it all in the fuck it bucket will just set your progress back. Good enough is good enough. Just keep plugging away!

This is difficult because it’s not glamourous. There’s no potion, or wrap, or detox cleanse that will help you with this. Many of you reading this will be nodding, thinking “yes, I know it’s about CICO and there are no shortcuts”. However, you may underestimate the level of patience that success requires. You must keep trying even when your body doesn’t yet show changes. You must keep trying even when hot cross buns come into the supermarket – and you love you some hot cross buns. You must keep trying even when it’s cold, and wet, and you don’t want to train because you’re tired.

Dig deep. You will get there. It’s a process, and change takes time.

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New Year’s Resolutioners: Keep Turning Up!

You’re almost three weeks into your dietary change. You’ve been prepping meals, and counting calories and macros for nearly 3 weeks. And you’re maybe hitting a wall. Maybe you’ve even had to restart and are fighting to keep these positive new changes in place. 

You might have read about how it takes 30 days of a new behaviour for it to become habit. This is bullshit. Don’t set yourself up to fail with this absurdly short window with which you want to make behavioural changes. The actual research literature in this area suggests far longer time periods must pass, with daily repetitions, before you can start to consider behaviours to have become habitual. 

I want to talk to you about something you’ve probably been trying to convince yourself of: the power of sticking to your resolutions, aka Keep Turning Up!

You are writing the story of your life. You are the hero of your own story. Write a story that you are proud to tell. So when you’ve promised yourself that you’ll make it to the gym after work, get that kit packed up, and schedule time for it. Even when you maybe don’t feel like it. Forget that, actually. You should go especially when you don’t feel like it! You’ll be so glad afterwards that you went and you’re riding that endorphin wave! Driving home with your music on, and your hair all sweaty. You’ll be so proud of yourself.

Don’t have a goal of running a marathon if you’re only just starting out. Give yourself a nudge towards success by creating stepping stones on your journey; I resolve to eat one piece of fruit tomorrow, or I will cook with one vegetable at each meal. Resolve to get to the gym and move your body for at least 30 minutes. You have to nudge yourself to success through incremental changes, that you can consistently apply, and gradually build on. That’s how good dietary and training habits are formed – not enormous landslide changes all at once. You can’t expect those to stick, the jump is too great. Instead, change something manageable and keep that one thing under control. Stick with that for a while before adding in anything else. Sure, it’s not a sexy, grand way to change your life – but this method is far more successful for most people.

You can think of it as the architecture of success. You’re now creating a framework that will scaffold your future behaviours, so build a good solid foundation! Believe it or not, you have a huge amount of control over your health and fitness related behaviours: You can always choose to give 100% best effort, and live your best life. Practice making good decisions now, and you’ll be able to draw on those memories of times you were successful to strengthen your will and enhance your resolve in the future.

Next, I want you to comment and tell me what your self nudge is going to be today! Keep it small enough to manage, remember. This is a promise you’re making to yourself.