I believe that starting anything can be hard, especially when you want so badly to be good at it right away. It can be discouraging when you don’t reach your own expectations or thought something was going to be easier than it actually was. I think we could all use a step back now and then to objectively look at our goals and analyze why we haven’t fully reached them.
Often times we take the “all or nothing” approach to new things or new endeavors (at least I know I do). We find ourselves in the mindset of, “I’m going to do this new thing 100%! I’m all in!” And before we know it we’ve fallen off, given up and feel defeated. We see this predominantly in starting new diets and other big lifestyle changes. People bite off more than they can chew (no pun intended), set goals that are way outside of their current ability level and then are confused and frustrated when they don’t reach them.
Let’s use weightlifting as an example: do you think it’s reasonable to never set foot in a gym your whole life and on your first day walk in and squat 300lbs? Probably not a realistic expectation and definitely not something an honest person would expect from themselves. So why do we do the same thing when it comes to healthy eating? Let’s say you currently eat over 200 grams of carbs each day and this past Sunday night you decided (again) to start doing the keto diet(insert fad diet here). Monday is great and you crush it. Tuesday is hard but manageable. By Wednesday your willpower starts getting shaky and it’s harder to hold yourself accountable. By Thursday your new diet is gone and you’re back to your old habits. Then you spend Friday through Sunday trying to get your shit together only to start the same process all over again on Monday. Sound familiar?
At this point we all know what we’re doing wrong and what we could be doing better. Perhaps the reason we fall off is because our goal is too lofty. Going for 100% is great in theory but not so much in practice. We tend to forget 70%, 80% and 90% are all still passing grades and that some progress is better than none at all. Maybe instead of the “all or nothing” approach, it would be better to take the incremental progress route instead. A good question to ask yourself when starting anything you don’t really want to do is, “What is the smallest change I’d be willing to make and stick to?” Maybe currently you drink 3 liters of soda every week and asking yourself to cut it completely out of your diet is just unrealistic for you. So, what is the smallest change you would be willing to make? Maybe you would be willing to cut it down to 2 liters. That’s great! Start there!
Another scenario might be that eating a strictly keto diet just isn’t reasonable for you right now and you end up quitting when the weekend rolls around. Instead, a better goal could be to eat a low (or lower) carb diet 4 days a week and slowly build yourself up. You’d still see results and you wouldn’t be discouraged by falling off the wagon! It might not give you the results as quickly as you’d like, but is starting over every week really any better? Don’t set yourself up for failure because you weren’t being honest with yourself. Baby steps in the right direction are better than leaps and bounds in the opposite.
Since starting my journey into health and fitness (a struggle between my current self and the person I want to become), I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. There have been times that I’ve been on the wagon, off it, sick, injured and just plain unmotivated, but one thing I can say after looking back at all my experiences is that I’ve gotten better and better every year. It didn’t happen overnight, and it definitely wasn’t (and still isn’t) a perfect journey but with baby steps and realistic goal setting, it is possible to live your best, healthiest, fittest life. The right mindset should be to wake up each day to try to do the best you can and to make each day a little better than the last. Then after a few years of doing this, you can look back and realize that these small investments in yourself payout huge dividends to your future self.