A perfectionist mindset is a debilitating disease when it comes to training and nutrition, yet it is one that most of us have. We tend to see our new lifestyle as an all or nothing venture, where we receive a pass or fail grade. We believe that we have to be 100% adherent to the plan or we have failed miserably. We eat one cookie or miss one workout and think the game is over, and we will try again next week, month, or year. We then proceed to finish off the box of cookies or miss the next 5 workouts.
This way of thinking is setting you up for failure. We are all human beings and WILL make mistakes. Not might. We will. And that’s ok! Eating one cookie or missing one workout does not ruin your progress. It will actually have little to no effect at all. What derails your effort is giving up after one negligible slip-up.
This is something I have struggled with a lot in my life. I had a hard time enjoying life because I was so worried about sabotaging my progress. I would never let myself slip, and this caused more stress than it was worth. Now I realize that this is not a pass/fail class, and it’s ok not to be perfect all of the time. When I am really tired or we are on vacation I let myself take a day off from the gym. When I am really craving something sweet I’ll have some vegan ice cream. And from this I have found that my progress is actually better! Probably because I am not as stressed out over every detail.
It is irrational to believe that we have failed our entire journey after one slip up. Stop exaggerating the negative consequences of the situation. One mistake probably has minimal consequence, but because we put so much weight on our mistakes we allow them to disrupt the rest of our journey. We pick out that single negative event and dwell on it, ignoring all of the positive experiences leading up to that point. Instead try to focus on all of the things you have done well and the strides you have taken toward your goal.
The most effective mindset is one that is focused in the present. Once you have made the mistake, it is in the past and no longer worth worrying about. You should focus on what you can do in the moment to move you toward your goals. You ate a cookie. That event already happened, but what can you do now to not make it worse? Not eat the rest of the cookies. Maybe you skipped your workout today. So now your focus becomes making sure you make it to the gym tomorrow, and not letting a whole week slip by.
In other words: Learn from your mistakes. If you use them in a positive way, to help you do better in the future, then they aren’t mistakes at all.
A mistake is not the end of your journey, and definitely not the end of the world, so don’t treat it that way. You do not have to be perfect to be fit or healthy. Progress comes with just being better. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to be 100% all the time. You can do a good job without being flawless.