Moderation... Not Perfection
Let me start this blog post with a confession:
I do not eat healthy every day, all the time.
There. I said it. I know you are all in shock (cue eye rolls and laughs).
Seriously, for those who know me, this comes as no surprise. I do not claim to be some guru who has transformed my body into a temple of purity.
You will never here me claim sugar never passes these lips!
However, you will often here me tell of my past sugar addiction and how I would often skip "real" meals and opt for donuts, candy, and chocolate. Or, how I could drink my calories in Dr. Pepper in one day.
As the old folks say, "I ain't what I use to be" but I am not perfect.
And, as a weight management professional, I would strongly advise anyone to be extremely leery of another who claimed to be perfect.
I try to stay up on the latest diet fads, healthy lifestyle trends, and those who are making them popular. It is very common for these individuals to claim they have given up a food, a food group, or a particular thing for a number of years to then elaborate on the health benefits they have reaped from doing so.
I liken these claims to the TV evangelist we've all seen fall from grace over the years. Or, the supermodels on magazine covers, social media pages, and commercials. Why?
Because no one is perfect.
I am sure even Richard Simmons has a piece cake sometimes. I say this with no authority. If you are Mr. Simmons legal counsel please do file suit (disclaimer).
Pick up a tabloid in the grocery store checkout line sometime. Supermodels do not look perfect all the time. Photo editing, professional photography, and makeup can do magical things.
And, I do not have to explain TV evangelists... we all remember what happened there.
I am saying all of that (above rant) to say this: it is not about being perfect.
I think that is what trips us up when it comes to weight loss, making healthy changes in our life, and maintaining those healthy changes and the weight we lose.
We think we must be "perfect" like the "experts".
And with that perfection comes a major haul of life changes. Changing what you eat, how you exercise, how you think, how you feel... and all this must be accomplished overnight.
I guarantee no one has accomplished this successfully. I would venture to say it is impossible.
What does happen when this effort is made? Burnout. That burnout may come from many reasons:
You become tired of keeping up with the "new you"
The changes become inconvenient as they do not fit well with your lifestyle
The new changes cause conflict with your family, friends, and work
It becomes difficult to translate the new changes in your life to a vacation, the holidays, or special occasions
Life happens and something stressful comes along and you no longer have the emotional or mental capacity to maintain the changes and deal with the stress
We embark on new lifestyle changes with the intention of having willpower. Willpower will help us maintain the change and give us the power to let go of old habits that are holding us back.
Let's talk a little more about willpower.
Definition of willpower: noun
the control exerted to do something or restrain impulses
It is the ability to control yourself. To have determination to do or not do something that you have set your mind to. Willpower is real but it is often perceived incorrectly.
If asked, most of us would say you either have willpower or you do not. But, that is false.
Willpower is more like a muscle that you must exercise to strengthen. But, when you ask experts about how to strengthen your willpower, they all agree:
Set SMART goals
Make small changes
Practice daily habits
Just like most things in life, willpower will fail you sometimes. That's because life happens. We humans are equipped to deal with only so many stressors at once. When burdened with too many, we must shuck off those that are not essential. So, when you become sick or are diagnosed with a new health problem, you lose a loved one, your car breaks down, and your spouse loses their job all in the course of 6 months, eating healthier and losing weight are just not a priority.
But, things will get better and you will become encouraged again. That is because this is a cycle.
One last point that redirects us to my initial confession. You can make a million healthy changes and lose your goal weight BUT you may always crave that one thing you feel is not good for you.
I still love sugar. In fact, I still indulge in it sometimes. The key word is SOMETIMES. I once ate it daily, all day, and avoided good food. Now, I have sugary candy and treats on occasion.
And guess what? That does not make me a bad person. Or, an unhealthy person. Or, a lazy person. And, neither are you!
Why should you give up the things you love? Like your mom's cake during the holidays, deep fried twinkies at the state fair, crab legs on vacation, fruity cocktails by the pool in the summer, popcorn at the movies with your kids, and the list could go on forever...:)
What I am trying to say is:
Anything in moderation (aside from methamphetamines, bath salts, heroin, arson, and Russian Roulette).
Stop being so hard on yourself. No one is perfect and perfection is not achievable.
Making small changes, one at a time, until you have reached your goal of a healthier you is very achievable.
Keep following my blog posts for tips on how to do just that!