I’m always writing about how you don’t have to be perfect and just do a little better every day. Don’t dwell on your mistakes, just rectify them and move on. This post is about knowing when it is okay to compromise and listening to yourself rather than worrying what other people will think.
I would consider an ideal diet for me to be all non-processed, organic vegan foods cooked from scratch by me. And I am proud to say that I eat that diet for the majority of my meals. But I also don’t want to give off the impression that I think it’s wrong to veer away from what you consider to be the “best” diet from time to time. It is up to you to what level you take the changes you make in your diet and how faithfully you follow your plan. Some people may choose to be extremely rigid and never compromise on what they eat. I don’t find that a reasonable, or healthy, attitude for me personally in my life. I see it all the time in others: the worry that their diets aren’t right, or aren’t perfect or that they’re eating the wrong things. It becomes an obsession of sorts.
In reality, there simply isn’t only one right way. If it works for you, it works! I think at that point we can stop second guessing. Sure, continue learning and continue adjusting, but try not to let it take over your life.
Sometimes, I miss a workout. It happens. Life happens. I get pulled into a last minute project or I get the flu. Part of making this work for you is being flexible enough to make sure you can stick with it for the long term. If you feel like you failed every time you miss a workout, you’ll be less motivated to carry-on the next day. When I miss a workout, I simply take it for what it is and go right back the next day. If possible, I’ll make it up by going on a planned rest day. But sometimes it just isn’t possible.
Sometimes, I eat take out. I just ate a delicious falafel wrap from a Mediterranean place down the street- and french fries! Sometimes, I eat ice cream. Sometimes I have a glass of wine. I don’t consider these “cheat meals” or “free days” or anything like that. This is, and always has been, part of my plan.
Even when I was losing weight, I didn’t always eat a perfectly clean, ideal diet. But I always maintained portion control. It’s fine if you want to have a piece of cake, but have a reasonable piece and then put it away. If you simply must have fast food french fries- get the kid’s size. Much as I don’t eat fast food now- I lost over 60 pounds while eating plenty. My go-to Wendy’s meal was a Jr Cheeseburger with no mayo, small french fries and an unsweetened iced tea. That was before I switched to vegetarian, but my point is that you do not have to be perfect at all times to make positive strides forward.
I honestly do not believe I would have succeeded if I had expected perfection of myself. I read all these health blogs and inspirational postings, and so many of them say No Excuses, and Never Eat This, Work Out Every Day… and I just don’t agree with that message. It makes it seem like living a healthy lifestyle has to be this rigid dogmatic experience with no room for adjustment and I don’t think it has to be that. In fact, I think some people take it too far and it takes the living out of life because they become so focused on food and exercise. To me those are important and great things to be aware of, but that awareness needn’t take over your life. I have no desire to be a person you can’t take out to eat or so worried about what I’m eating that I won’t share in a meal at another person’s home without nitpicking it apart.
I don’t always buy the organic option for produce. I sometimes use canned beans or tomatoes. I have plastic storage containers. I use a non-stick pan. I put sugar in my coffee. Sometimes I’m tired and my effort level during my workout isn’t at it’s maximum. I’m not perfect and that’s okay! Guess what, I’ve lost 120 lb and kept it off for over a year. I’ve been at this for over three years and I know it’s not about being flawless, it’s about continuing to put in that effort regularly in the long run. I’m proud of how well I do. I’d say I’m about 90% following what I would consider to be an ideal diet. I don’t feel restricted and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I find it very doable and it doesn’t add stress to my life.
Don’t fear making compromises, it’s just another way of taking care of yourself.