When we think about nutrition and exercise we often come at it with an All or Nothing perspective. Most of us think that to make a change we have to do everything, and do it perfectly. For example, “I’m going to exercise 6 times a week… starting tomorrow, of course”, or “I’m going to cut out all sugar and eat only whole foods”. Unfortunately, this all or nothing approach can often lead to failure. When we set these high and lofty goals, we often make it very easy to fail, and when we fail we often just give up and think maybe we’ll start again later when we’re able to do a “better job”.
Most of us, though, will never really have a time when we can do that “better job”. Or a time when we can make everything perfect. Life will constantly get in the way. Whether you’re busy with work or kids, you have a vacation coming up, or maybe you’re injured or sick. All of these things (and everything else that comes up in our lives) will make it very hard to do that perfect job we want to do. That’s why, instead of aiming for perfect, we need to aim for better.
Think of something you want to change and just aim to make it a little better. Committing to one small change for a couple of weeks, can lead you towards progress in a sustainable way. You don’t have to cut out all sugar and eat only whole foods to improve your diet. Instead, you could start by picking a meal and adding a serving a healthy food like vegetables to it every day. This may seem like a tiny, insignificant change, but if you can continue adding in these small changes every couple of weeks, you can make big changes over time. And even better, you can make these changes habits that you actually stick with in the long term.
So next time you think you need to wait for the perfect time, so you can do everything you’ve ever wanted with your exercise and nutrition plan, try just aiming for better. Start today! Pick something small you know you can do and just focus on that one thing for the next two weeks. Once you have that down, add something else small. Over time, they’ll add up and you’ll be closer to your goals. And even better, you’ll be able to sustain those goals for the long haul.