I’ve always been an all-or-nothing kind of person. When I do something, I go ALL in, full throttle. I’ll push myself as hard as I possibly can to finish what I’ve started. This has been a great quality in my life, and I’ve accomplished a lot of difficult goals because of it.
However, there’s a problem: the “nothing” in all-or-nothing. If I feel like I can’t do something fully, I shouldn’t do it at all. It’s a weird quirk of mine, one that my husband continually tries to help me overcome.
Unfortunately, this has had a negative impact on my self-health journey. Throughout the years, I’ll get that spur of motivation and go all in. I’ll throw out all the junk in the pantry, keep my water bottle with me always, take my supplements, quit fast food, and exercise four to five times a week, minimum. After keeping this up for a while, I feel great!
But, typically, something will happen that interrupts my routine. Maybe I’ll go on a trip, then start eating on the go and missing workouts. Eventually, I realize that I’ve gone back to doing nothing. And there’s a little voice in the back of my mind that justifies it: Well, you already stopped, so you might as well just let it go. This may sound absurd, but it’s how my mind thinks. I know intellectually that it’s silly and wrong, but it’s hard to rewire how you think.
Of course, doing nothing never feels right either. I can’t forget how great I felt when I was on track, and I know that getting back on track is so worth it!
Then something clicked for me a while back. I was watching a movie, and the main character says to someone who is struggling to lose weight: “It’s progress, not perfection.” At that moment, the world stood still. A light shone down on the TV, and the angels sang. Okay, that may be a bit dramatic—but it’s how I felt. A huge lightbulb went off.
It’s progress, not perfection! I don’t have to be perfect right off the bat. I can take it slow…as long as I’m progressing.
This is a wonderful mantra for anyone who, like me, is trying to move to a holistic lifestyle. It can be so overwhelming to feel like you need to change everything in your life. Your diet, your cleaning supplies, your water source, your activity level, your personal hygiene products, your supplements, your doctor…even your pet’s nutrition! It’s a lot to take in, which makes it so easy for that little voice to whisper in your ear: This is too hard. I’m going back to doing nothing.
If you’ve ever felt this way, remember—progress, not perfection! Don’t try to fix everything at once. Tackle one thing at a time, and then move to the next thing. Discover the beauty of baby steps.
Here are a few easy ways to make progress on your self-health journey. They worked wonders for me:
- Small food changes. For example, to switch over from white to brown rice, try starting with a combination of half white, half brown, until you gradually get used to the taste and mouth feel of brown rice.
- Shop smart. Learn everything you need to know about shopping smart with Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is! by Stephanie Selene Anderson. If you don’t feel like you have enough time to read the book edition, get the audiobook and listen while you drive.
- Wean yourself off soda. If you’re a big soda drinker, you don’t have to quit cold turkey. Find a healthier substitute beverage and gradually wean yourself off. There are lots of fizzy, non-sugar drinks out there now. Start with kombucha and try a new one every week (but remember to look out for added sugars). You can also make your own healthy, bubbly beverage with a splash of fruit juice in carbonated spring water.
- Don’t let money stop you. Money is often a hang up for people transitioning to a whole foods diet, but don’t let that stop you! There are so many ways to eat healthy on the cheap. One thing I do is shop the sales. Whole foods grocery stores always have marked-down produce and featured items, so I buy those and plan my meals around them.
- Exercise. Add exercise to your regular routine. You can do simple things like park at the back of the lot or take the stairs instead of the elevator. You truly do have time to exercise, even when you think you don’t.
These are just a few of the tricks that worked for me, but there are innumerable others. Test it out and see what works for you. When something doesn’t work, don’t quit! Progress into your self-health journey today. I’m very grateful I did.
Image from iStock/gustavofrazao.