Wait, what? Embrace imperfection? Yes, you read that correctly. Today, we are going to consider doing some things imperfectly, rather than not doing them at all.
It is about now that the seasonal roller coaster ride begins. It lets up, oh, sometime in February—or July. What often accompanies this roller coaster ride (also known as “real life”) is what one of my mentors, Dr. John Berardi, refers to as “pause-button mentality.”
Examples of this phenomenon go something like this:
*”With all the parties in December, I may as well wait until January to start my health and fitness program. It will be one of my resolutions.”
*”I’ll go to the gym once my job settles down, the kids finish their __________ season, and I get my mom moved into her condo.”
*”It will be easier to eat better meals once the holidays are over. With all the baking, card writing, shopping and decorating, I have NO time.”
*”I was going to start eating more vegetables this week, until I remembered it’s my Birth Month. So many of my friends like to take me to lunch, I can’t possibly consider doing such a crazy thing until NEXT month!” (I’ve used this one before…can you believe it?)
Do any of these stories sound familiar? Okay, perhaps they aren’t exact—you get the picture. For the record: I am guilty of playing the pause-button game. Also for the record: It doesn’t work very well.
We all like to start over, begin again, and erase the slate clean. So do I. The problem: Hitting the pause button delays us living our life and playing full out.
Say your “ideal” routine includes nicely balanced meals every evening, your favorite workouts 5 days a week, quiet prayer/meditative time daily, 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and a good dose of family and social time mixed in with work. Perfect!
We all know that what we plan in life and what happens are usually not the same. We have to take the good stuff along with the not-so-good stuff.
Short term, we can stick with a regimented plan, which is why there are lots of 30-day programs. Life may allow us to get away with a fairly “perfect” 30 days. Then what?
Here’s an alternative to hoping for perfect. Always do something. Pausing the button on various aspects of our life when things get out of whack only leads to regret, and sometimes a more difficult road in the future.
If you are unable to get in your typical workouts, take a 10-minute walk at some point in your day. It will bring mental and physical benefits. Can you get to the gym at least twice a week instead of five? Stay for thirty minutes instead of an hour?
So you can’t get in your wonderfully balanced meals every evening, eat a salad once a day and do the best you can. If you must resort to drive-thru, skip the soda and fries. Practice doing just a little bit better. A little bit better is awesome!
And all those holiday parties? Choose a few of the “healthier” options, drink lots of water, and go for those decadent treats only when they are AMAZING!
Living your best life is not about having lots of willpower, or constantly denying yourself the fun of parties, friends and great food. This game is about developing the skills to hang in there and do what you can, even when you really want to pause. It’s knowing that life is always going to happen, no matter how well you plan.
Plan to embrace the imperfection of doing something. Always.
“Fitness in the context of real human life is just like the rest of life. We’re all just doing the best we can in challenging, complicated circumstances. We are all living messy, imperfect lives. We are all human. If we can just keep moving forward, no matter what happens, no pause buttons, no do-overs, we win the game.”—Dr. John Berardi