This quote is one of my favorites. It reminds me of how easily we get caught-up in a quest for diet & nutrition perfection. The problem? Well for one, perfection in itself is unattainable. And there is also the fact that we have yet to define “the perfect diet”. If I knew, I would tell you, and would register for the nobel prize while I’m at it. Giving up on change because you’re far from perfect misses the point of how beneficial small changes can be for your health. You just need to know how to pick your battles.
Don’t try to be perfect. Just try to be better.
Start by picking your battle: cutting sugar intake, reducing liquid calories, bumping-up produce intake, practicing better portion control, you name it. But once you’ve picked your battle, focus on being better. Someone recently told me: “You’re not going to be happy with me, I went to the restaurant, had a good meal, but then ate the entire dessert. I felt horrible”. But when I asked them to compare their choices to something they would have done a few months prior they said: “Well normally I would have had the entire serving of fries, the appetizer, the alcohol and the dessert too”. That sounds like progress to me, so I say job well done. Be proud of your progression and just try to do a bit better every time.
Assess your starting point
Diet tips heard on tv, web or in magazines rarely consider your starting point. For instance, the busy landscaper who eats 3 fast-food meals per day and wants to lose weight is at a clearly different starting point than the nutrition-savvy teacher looking to make more sustainable food choices. Their priorities, battles and progression will be different because their starting points are different.
If you’re new at something, you shouldn’t sign yourself up as being advanced if you haven’t mastered the basics. Same goes with food. Worrying about getting the “best” vegetable or super fruit of the moment is irrelevant if produce is never on your menu or if most of your meals are accompanied by deep-fried starch. So if you’re a healthy eating newbie, the first order of business should be packing your plate with produce at every meal. Only once you’ve mastered this basic should you tackle the next.
The no going back rule
The no going back rule is a way to make sure you’re always moving forward with your healthful habits. Pick your battle, set your goal but there is no going back to your previous habit. So be wise in your decision!
Say you choose to be bold and eliminate soda completely, then any slip-up will break the rule and you’ll let yourself down. But if you set the bar lower and aim to drink soda less than twice per week, you will most likely follow the rule, have many soda-free days and maximize your chances of sticking to a new habit.
Do you find it difficult to pick your battles? What will you set as your no going back rule?