Strive for progress, not perfection.
After a week, I figured an update is beyond due! I have been tracking my meals and exercise with my Create365 planner (lets me see and reflect on it all in one place) and MyFitnessPal (which gives me the amount of calories in what I eat). I’ve been drinking more water, which is huge for this soda- and juice-lover. I ate at home far more often, and just overall made better portion size choices to stay within my caloric goal. I made sure to eat less than 500 calories whenever we ate out, except on days when I exercised in the pool, which gave me some extra calories for a little reward ice cream (though I noticed I feel worse physically after indulging). I lost 5.4 pounds this week. I’ve been trying to make small progress, not perfect progress. That’s another biggie for me.
I am definitely a perfectionist when it comes to myself and my goals. It’s all or nothing. Either I lose weight or I give up and binge. Either I know everything about health and exercise, or I tell myself I’m not ready to begin. Either I keep up on my meal tracking, or I give it up and think I can’t do it. Either I go for daily runs or if I miss a couple days, it’s game over. It’s self-sabotage and ain’t nothin’ but the devil.
After 32 years of existing on this earth, I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two. Now that I see my habits clearly, I can begin to combat them. Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before has helped shine a bright light on my preferences and idiosyncrasies, which has shown me why I’ve failed in the past and what I, as an individual, need in order to create lasting change. I’ve learned that I am willing to meet others’ expectations of me but not my own, thus external accountability is essential to my progress. That’s one of many things I’ve discovered and can exploit on this journey.
In order to create lasting change, you need to know yourself objectively, without judgement, and use that knowledge to patiently and compassionately adjust your habits bit by bit.
That’s taken me many years to figure out. I wallowed in self-loathing whenever I made small mistakes. I used every excuse in the book in order to give up. I tried to force myself to work the way self-help books told me I should work, even when it made me miserable. I told myself I wasn’t good or smart or strong enough to make healthy choices, therefore maybe I didn’t deserve health anyway. I don’t think I’m alone in doing all that. I tell you, it is no way to live.
Small steps toward progress is still progress. Failure and mistakes are still progress as long as you learn from them and refuse to give up. And when you do, it’s important to forgive yourself and have some compassion. It’s sometimes easier to be patient with other people than with ourselves. We’re human, my friend. We’re going to screw up, probably often. If God can forgive us, I think we can find a way to do so, too.
You don’t have to be perfect to make progress. You just need to know who you are, who you are in Christ, and stubbornly try, try again.