THE BLOG

Banish "Perfection" From Your Workout Vocabulary

10/14/2013 10:52 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Stop trying to find the "perfect" week to start exercising, or assuming that every workout has to unfold perfectly as planned. If you can't make your spin class, or do your entire gym routine, don't abandon ship altogether. Go for a walk, do a modified gym routine, or do a few body weight exercises at home. No one is perfect, no diet can be perfect, not every workout has to be perfect. Aiming for perfection sets you up for failure, and gives you an excuse to skip workouts or throw in the towel when something doesn't go according to plan. Banish 'perfection' from your vocabulary.

Everyone has certain desirable habits that they find hard to stick to. People who successfully make long-term lifestyle changes aren't usually successful the first time. They don't succeed by being perfect, they succeed because they persevere. Health is a process -- a non-linear one at that -- that takes daily dedication. 

Have goals, sure, but be flexible. Modify your plans as life dictates, but maintain one constant -- being active has to be "non-negotiable." The question for you must not be "if" you will be active, but "when and how you will be active."

Too often I get told things like, "this isn't the best week to start exercising. Life is too busy. I will start next week." Or, "I didn't have time to get to my (insert class of choice), so I missed my workout completely." Or, "since I blew my diet with a glass of wine with dinner, I had cake as well." Or, I can't do (insert exercise) because of my (insert an injury), so I skipped my workout altogether."

I understand the desire to say "screw it" when life takes a turn, but there will never be that "perfect" week to get started, you won't always be able to make your fitness class, and no one can maintain a perfect diet long-term. Stop dealing in absolutes. Don't aim to be perfect -- aim to be patient, flexible and persistent.

Instead of saying, "I will start next exercising next week," say, "I will do whatever I can to be active this week. Even if all I do is walk home from the subway every day, that is better than nothing. I will re-asses my goals, and increase my activity accordingly next week."

Instead of saying: "I didn't have time to get to my yoga class, so I missed my workout completely."

Say, "I will do a 20 minute yoga YouTube video at home to make up for missing yoga."

Instead of saying, "I had five glasses of wine with dinner and therefore blew my diet, so I had cake as well."

Say, "Five glasses of wine was enough. Maybe I'll go for as walk."

Instead of, "I skipped my workout because I can't do boot camp because of my shoulder injury."

Say, "my shoulder is irritating me. I will make an appointment with my physiotherapist, go for a brisk walk and do strength exercises that don't involve my shoulder."

Stop thinking every workout has go perfectly to plan to be worthwhile. Something is always better than nothing!

Banish 'perfection' from your vocabulary. A goal of being perfect -- having the perfect diet, or working out every day -- can be paralyzing. Since there is no way to be perfect, we often do one of two things. Either we consciously or unconsciously let ourselves off of the hook before we even start, by thinking that we will fail, so why try? Or, we aim for perfection, then when we can't live up to our unrealistic goals, we fall back into our negative health habits. Either way, the main take-away is, be patient. Your negative health habits were not formed in a day. Positive health habits will not materialize overnight! Make realistic, sustainable goals!

Part of being successful is taking setbacks in stride. If you fall off the fitness wagon, which will probably happen once or twice, assess why, and then get right back on track. If you make a goal that you don't stick to, don't worry. Assess why you did not succeed, then create new goals based on your new-found knowledge. Play around, figure out what type of goal setting, motivational strategies, support networks and scheduling strategies work for you. Just take the time to become aware of your current and past habits. Become mindful of how you spend your time and energy. Ditch the goal of perfection. Instead, aim to be persistent, flexible and patient!

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