Consistency v. Perfection
(From archived lianprice.com blog, circa January 2015.)
I have touched on this point before, but it keeps popping up in conversations, especially where questions on diet and nutrition are concerned.
So here’s the deal:
If you are following a nutrition game plan, do not, I repeat, DO NOT aim for perfection. You WILL fall short, every time. You are reaching for something that does not exist.
And we all know this. It's a common phrase: "no one is perfect."
Yet why do we throw common sense out the window when it comes to our eating habits?
As human beings we derive joy and pleasure from food. We are going to slip up and eat a larger portion than we meant to. At some point, we WILL eat the wrong food from the wrong restaurant chain in all the wrong combinations at the wrong time of day or night.
My question to you is, who cares?
I know I don't, because the rest of the week I’ve already been dead–on consistent with my choices and balanced my macronutrients.
I can't tell you how many times I hear "Well then I ate a cookie. Then a bag of potato chips. So I thought screw it, the week is over. I will get back on track next week."
That mindset of all or nothing, absolutes, is just an excuse to comfortably fail and push off the hardest thing to next week again, the hardest thing being to admit your human, swallow your ego and your fear, and just get back on the saddle. The best thing to do is just allot for the cookie and the chips, and then move on.
When you strive to be perfect, your body inevitably rebels against you.
It has to. It's the principle of yin and yang, of hot and cold, of the pendulum swinging back and forth. Your body will always seek out homeostasis, and when you take it so far in one extreme direction (i.e., 1,000 kcal each day without fail, plus intense daily exercise) the ONLY way it will be able to balance itself out is to swing to the extreme opposite direction, (i.e., increased hunger, increased fatigue, increased capabilities for fat storage to fend off future bouts of starvation) in order to come back to center.
If following the "perfect diet" is your current pursuit, you are destined for failure. I know it sounds harsh but this is the reality. This is true if you are chasing perfection in any realm. If you don't agree, just check out the hundreds of different diet plans that are currently out there. You may argue that they have yielded successful results for people, and I will counter that only the few diets that give people sustainable results, meaning the ones that set people up with a game plan that they can follow comfortably FOR LIFE– these are the "diets" that work.
The rest may yield (hopefully) a temporary result, but in my mind that is not only the opposite of success, but can actually be more detrimental. A person yo-yo'ing back and forth, losing weight and then gaining it back, then losing it again and gaining even more, is placing a huge strain on their body. They are also increasing the likelihood of a decrease in self-esteem and a feeling of being a failure with zero self–control.
This is not a good place to be. But it is the only place you will end up if you aim for perfection. So instead, I urge you to aim for consistency.
Day in and day out, treat your body with respect. Listen to it, give it the rest, nutrients, water and stress outlets that it needs, and when you eat something unhealthy, DON'T beat yourself up. Just account for it in your total macronutrient numbers for that day.
I hope this helps. As always, I love your feedback. Please leave a comment below if you would like.