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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Do something to get your closer to your goals today! Don’t wait!

This time of year is peculiar. Christmas has passed, New Years hasn’t yet arrived. You’re knocking around the house in a post-Christmas slump, filled with mince pies and confusion, not really sure what day it is because none of your days have any structure.

Maybe each night you go to bed and resolve that tomorrow will be different. You’ll go for that bracing walk to blow your cobwebs away. You’ll clear out the cupboards of all those left over festive snacks. Heck, while we’re thinking about it, maybe we’ll even join a gym. Yes, in fact that sounds like a marvellous idea, and at midnight – when you really can’t do anything at all about that idea – it seems splendid, the world is your oyster! You fall asleep feeling entirely pleased with yourself, and committed to your new brilliant idea.

However, in the morning, when you could do something towards that goal, you choose not to. You stay in your dressing gown, drinking coffee after coffee and putting it all off.

Stop. This is a pivotal point.

You feel motivated late at night because there is no cost to feeling that way. You can be gung ho about all sorts of ideas (joining the gym, writing that novel, exploring Iceland on a nomadic photographic backpacking trip) because you can’t do anything about that right now. It’s a fantasy. It’s safe. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with indulging those ideas. It’s a safe place and time to figure which goals are important to you.

After that your behaviour needs to change a bit if you’re to actually achieve those goals.

Decide something that you can do right now – today – to get you one step closer to that goal. Let’s say your goal is to drop some fat after the holidays, right? I’m guessing a lot of folks feel that way. Set yourself a SMART target. You’ve probably heard about these before in other areas of your life, but they are absolute gold.

A SMART target is one which is:

  • Specific: So, instead of losing some weight, be specific about how much weight. 10lbs, 25lbs, 100lbs.
  • Measurable: You need to be able to keep track of your progress so that if things are going well, you know about it and if they aren’t you can adjust your sails a little. Some internet gurus say not to weigh yourself. “Stay off the sad step!” they implore. I’ll write more about this soon, but really, having some way of checking that you’re progressing towards your goals is obvious. Get a reliable, digital bathroom scale and write your weight down each week.
  • Attainable: This is about having small steps and doing something every day to get your closer to where you want to be. If you currently are taking absolutely no exercise whatsoever, living on a diet of chocolate and mince pies and have a debilitating knee injury, it is not an attainable goal to run the London marathon in the next 2 weeks. An attainable goal is about setting yourself up for small wins. Breaking your goal down into manageable steps, and working on those consistently.
  • Realistic: Give yourself the tools you need to succeed. If that’s a dietary related goal, get a set of kitchen scales and some tupperware. If it’s a fitness goal, spring for those new trainers you’ve been drooling over. This isn’t a bribe, or a frivolous indulgence. Your goals matter – you are important. Treat yourself and your goals the way you would support your best friend, or child, if they came to you with the same goals. If your kid wanted to join a karate class, or a football team – you’d get them the kit, and drive them to the matches wouldn’t you? Do yourself a solid and extend yourself the same courtesy.
  • Time bound: Having a time frame to work to isn’t to make you bust your hump for some arbitrary date in the future. It’s so that you give yourself check-points along the journey and give yourself opportunities to adjust your behaviour if your performance isn’t coming along the way you’d like. It’s to help keep your eye on the ball as you progress. For example, let’s say you want to lose 25lbs by your friend’s wedding which is 20 weeks from now. You have an idea of how much you need to lose each week to get you to that point: 1.25lbs per week. You know how hard you have to hit that diet to achieve that goal. If you had only 10 weeks to lose the same amount of weight, you’d need to lose 2.5lbs – and you’d have to hit that diet in a more aggressive way, and be far stricter with your nutrition and exercise to achieve it.

So… what do you do next? I want you to write down those late night flashes of brilliance. The things you’re inspired to do once you’re already in bed. In the morning, I want you to convert it to a SMART target and get serious about it. You can comment below if you need help to do this. Then, do one thing, something to help get you a little bit closer to it. I want to hear what it is so drop me a comment – because I know we could move mountains, if we had a good enough plan! Get after it!