I love Winston Churchill– especially his quotes. (I know, go ahead and file this with the other geekery I keep sharing–like my love of 40’s music and Hallmark movies. I’m an old soul. I know!). I love what he says about ending sentences with prepositions: “That is a travesty up with which I will not put”. I love his poignant witticism on All. The. Things. But lately his quote “Perfection is the enemy of progress” has been getting under my skin and rattling around in my brain.
I wonder how often that quote is the absolute truth when it comes to taking care of our bodies. It seems people are always waiting on or looking for perfect. Have you heard (or said!) this: I’ll start when life settles down/when the kids go to college/when I’m not quite so busy?
But maybe we halt our progress more often than we realize– in the name of perfection. Have you ever heard (or said) “Well, I’ve ruined today by eating ________. Might as well enjoy the rest of today and get back on the right track tomorrow”?
Yeah. That. What have you actually done? You gave yourself blanket permission to make it a free for all day. Maybe that’s fine for a day. But what happens when tomorrow comes, and something else gets in your way? As Annie sang and I seem to keep referencing, “Tomorrow’s always a day away!”
So how do we ever get anywhere?
Last week, I fell prey to the monster flu that’s running around. While I was laying there trying very hard not to wallow in whininess, A River Runs Through It came on. It’s a great movie with Brad Pitt, about a Preacher and his two fly fishing sons in Montana. There are so many things to get out of the movie, but I this time I really noticed the scenery of the river. And how smooth those rocks were. That didn’t happen from an all out effort on the part of the river–no week long push of energy, no powerful blast. The river just kept flowing, doing its thing, day in and day out.
But aren’t our bodies like that?
So maybe instead of looking for a perfect day, maybe it’s helpful to start thinking of our health and our goals as a series of small, but better choices. Around the holidays, after my grandmother had just died and it was too cold to even think without shivering, I went off-roading with my eating. I haven’t done that in years, but I’m human too. And by time I got home for Christmas, I felt like a baby Beluga whale. I wasn’t completely positive that I had pants that I could wear for Christmas dinner– or at least not ones that weren’t likely to split in half. But the day after Christmas, I started telling myself what has become my new mantra: It’s a great day to do better.
And it worked. By focusing on “better”, I took away the pressure of perfect. I allowed myself a little grace, because this is after all, a lifestyle, not a diet. I’m in it for the long haul, and for so many reasons that are bigger than looking great in a pair of jeans.
Several years ago, there was a commercial that I absolutely loved. (You can watch it Here) It was for Post-its, but had a great message in terms of how we work on our bodies too. It featured a short girl who kept jumping and putting post-it notes higher and higher. Finally, when her basketball tryouts happen, and all the tall girls are laughing at her– she goes and nails her jump shot. When they zoom in on the post it note she left as she jumped, it said “I’ll jump higher tomorrow.”
Your results are all about consistency, and the day to day (or sometimes hour to hour) return to your path. Getting there is about continuing to show up, make the best choices you can, and when life happens– refusing to let that define you.
“Today is a GREAT day to do better!” Don’t worry about being perfect, but rather focus on making as many great choices as you can.