Keeping it Consistent
"Consistency is much more important than striving for perfection."
I've decided I'm going to be very up front from the beginning... the online sphere of social media can be super fake. It doesn't always allow for getting down to our nitty gritty thoughts and opinions, especially for those trying to portray a 'perfect' lifestyle online. It also means we hide our failures, creating a false personality online that is based on 'perfection'. I myself, have most definitely fallen into this trap, sometimes posting content that I thought people would 'want' to see, rather than what was necessarily going on in my life. My aim therefore, for this section of my website, is to honestly let you in on my slip ups, my downfalls, the problems I still face, in addition to my successes and experiences of trying to lead a healthy life.
With that said, I am going to kick off this first post with something I consider to be super important when beginning any health journey.
When it comes to achieving long term results in your health, consistency is everything. Let’s face it… no one is perfect. Despite the common misconception that we must strive to look like ‘perfect’ Instagram models online, or fit into the perceived ‘thin’ ideal to be perfect… trying to be anyone else’s idea of perfect will always results in a failure.
Trust me. I know.
Trying to be perfect when it comes to health however, is also impossible. Social situations where you inevitably fall off your plan; be it a hiccup in your training regime, or simply the unavailability of ‘healthy’ foods… WILL happen if you are choosing to make healthy food a part of an already sociable lifestyle. With that said however, dwelling on these moments and letting yourself get down about things, is not going to get you anywhere. Your focus needs to shift to moving forwards.
No guilt, no punishment. Accept and move on.
For those on weight loss journey’s, or as students who are trying to make more healthy food choices, socialising around food can seem pretty tricky. Being able to enjoy smaller portions of your favourite foods is super important, we just have to be sure not to go overboard. So… instead of jumping to conclusions and punishing your body through restricting or binging in public, my tip would be to focus on portion control. If you want some cake, by all means have some; just cut a smaller slice or go halves with someone else. If its a more fancy dining experience, find someone else who will split your entree and dessert courses.
Majority of those who attempt to make healthy food a part of their everyday life, will begin their journey adopting an ‘all or nothing’ approach. This means, you are either training intensely for seven days a week and eating super ‘clean’, or are choosing to splurge on your favourite foods and lying around doing nothing all day. Its a similar ideology for those who binge… “Well I’ve eaten one cookie now so I may as well have 20”, and consequently, a lot of health journeys will start and end with small slip ups around food. I can tell you now that waiting around for Monday to start your journey again is certainly not the way to approach a healthy lifestyle; and it is this very cycle that will only cause things to get worse the more you fall into it's trap.
Similarly, for those on a recovery journey and those trying to gain weight, consistency is also going to be key for you... Just in a different way. Trust me when I say that sometimes just choosing to get up in the morning and make a simple breakfast, can be super hard. I will openly say that I still struggle with this on what I classify as my 'off days'. It may seem easier to restrict your food intake, to give up, especially when your negative thoughts are strong. But I can assure you its never as bad as it seems, and we ALL have our off days. Not only will giving up or giving in prolong your journey back to health, but this also leaves the opportunity for your issues to bother you later down the track.
Like I said… I still struggle with the concept of consistency sometimes. No one is perfect. But in terms of recovery, the one tip I have is to keep trying and keep going; take that one extra bite, or go out for that suggested meal even when you feel you shouldn’t. There will be times where you slip up, that’s totally normal. But if you focus on trying to make small improvements and increases to your diet throughout your journey, you will by all means be better off long term. If making and eating breakfast is something that you struggle with, give yourself ten minutes, and then make something small or head off with a friend and suggest brunch out. Similarly for lunch or dinner meals, meet up with someone you trust and tell them how you are feeling before the meal. Not only will this help you, but also help them to understand whats going on for you, meaning that they can assist you where you feel at your weakest.
I think the key to starting any health journey, is to aim for consistency about 80% of the time. I’m well aware that you have probably all heard the 80/20 lifestyle principle. A lifestyle pattern that dedicates 80% of your time to following the rules and sticking to goals; and the other 20% to letting lose and accepting mistakes. My best friend has always said that a little spontaneity is the key to life, as long as you also have an ability to stick to routine where its needed. This lifestyle allows for both, and is absolutely the best way to achieve great results.
It doesn’t matter whether you are on a pathway to recovery, setting out to lose a little weight, or just trying to make healthy changes to your relationship with food, consistency is always going to be crucial. The intent to be perfect is not going to get you anywhere, and let me just tell you now… you do need to be prepared for small failures along the way. Regardless of your intentions with food however, the most important thing is to fuel your body well.
Focus on eating a range of nutritious and wholesome foods that make you feel good 80% of the time, while comfortably knowing you always have 20% in the bank for slip ups and treats while out with friends. No guilt, no harsh punishment of restriction.