Thursday, November 6, 2014

Perfection Not Required

The ironic thing about this post is that I started writing it a couple of months ago and never made it very far because I couldn't seem to say what I want in just the right way.

A problem I've often encountered in my life is wanting to do everything perfectly. In some ways this can be a positive because I work really hard and do my best consistently when I commit to doing something. In other ways it can be a negative when it holds you back, because you think you can't do it right.
In years past, I would realize areas I need to make changes or improvements, but not do them because I didn't feel I had it in me to do it "perfectly". It was a "what's the point" mindset.
For example: I've been a diet soda junkie for years. I know that drinking water is important and soda is horrible, but there have been times I've said to myself "screw it" and guzzled diet soda as my primary beverage day after day and not made an effort to drink enough water because I couldn't bring myself to quit the soda, so "what's the point?" I'd tell myself.

The perfectionist mindset can lead you to know you should drink water and not diet soda, but because you can't seem to quit the soda, you don't even try and just drink soda all day. It can make you not eat vegetables at all some days because you know you're not going to get in enough servings. It can make you not work out at all because you're only going to have time for 20-30 minutes and not a full hour, so you say to yourself "what's the point" and don't do anything.

This might seem obvious to you guys, but in case you struggle with this mindset at times too, I'll say it anyway: Something is better than nothing!! You don't need to be perfect to try. If you love soda and can't seem to quit it, you are still going to be better and healthier if you also make yourself drink plenty of water. If you're pressed for time, a 20 minute workout still helps your body more than a days of inactivity. If you can't start your day without a mocha latte, or make it through the day without a small bag of chips, you're still going to reap the benefits of making sure you get plenty of lean protein and fresh vegetables and fruits.

Instead of focusing on what you can't do, focus on what you can do. It can really lead to big changes if you change your focus like that. Whatever your personal struggles might be, if it feels too hard and too overwhelming to start changing yourself at all, start looking for the little things that you CAN do! Starting a running program might feel impossibly difficult, but can you commit to taking a daily 20 minute walk? Going to the gym and lifting weights to build muscle might not be something you can do, but maybe you can do a few push-ups, sit-ups, and squats in your living room. Maybe you're not ready to change all the not-so-healthy foods that you eat, but you can make a change by committing to eat a serving of vegetables to start each meal and focus on healthy portion sizes. Or you can keep one fun/comfort food meal every day, but focus on making the other two meals really healthy.

If you start focusing on the little things that you CAN do, odds are pretty good that they'll eventually add up to big changes over time! You might just find yourself drinking 96 ounces of water a day, primarily eating meals that are lean protein with a big serving of veggies. You might find that your 20 minute walk has evolved into 45 minutes of running. And if a few little things is all it ever amounts to?  Well guess what? You're still going to be a little bit healthier for it! So start today by finding something healthy you can do for yourself, you won't regret it.