Learning that life is about progress, not perfection
It took me 31 years to learn that I was needlessly worrying about not being perfect, and not only that, I was expecting everyone else to be perfect too.
I have started and restarted this blog post three or four times within the last couple of months. And the thing is, I still don’t know how to express my feelings in a perfect package. But that’s kind of the point of this post I guess...
Perfection is an illusion. It’s a farce. Once you really know that (and trust me I still have days where I feel perfection is possible), you’ll be happier.
Am I saying you should give up on your ideals? Nope. I am saying you'll have to compromise certain things, but you should know where your boundaries are, don't lose sight of those.
Asking me what I want can sometimes be a bit like asking me to perform a quadratic equation... As in please don’t. I'd probably be better at solving the math problem than at pinpointing exactly what it is I want.
Does anyone really know what they want? With specific detail? If they do, I envy them. I can list you things I don’t want, easily. I can list you things I wish were different too, but I won’t necessarily have
a solution for how to change them.
I spend all year wishing for summer. It's my favourite time of the year. I hate the cold, I'm not a fan of the rain and wind either. Gloomy grey skies kill my mood.
So I suppose one thing I want is eternal summer... not sure that's on the list of things I can control though, so I'll just have to keep wishing for that one.
Summer is the best. Parties, family gatherings, holidays, bbqs, days out, nights out... you get the picture. And as someone on a health and fitness journey I spent a lot of the summer feeling like I was disappointing myself and my team.
I did not stick to my nutrition plan every day. I overindulged at parties. I skipped workouts when I didn't have the time or energy to get them done... and sometimes I skipped them because I had something I wanted to do more than work out.
I enjoyed my summer. A lot. I went on holiday and had a great time, something I hadn't done in years. I met new people, left my comfort zone a few towns behind me and took chances. I made changes, some big, some small. I laughed, I cried, I learned from my mistakes and made the same mistakes I've made dozens of times before. Essentially, I lived my life. So why was I so disappointed in myself for just living my life? Why did I have such high expectations even though I knew I would never be able to keep up with them unless I lived the life of a monk?
Then a girl in my virtual bootcamp shared a quote about how life was about making progress, not about being perfect. Progress, not perfection... Progress I can manage!
After eight weeks of glorious summer I have learned to stick to my nutrition plan 90% of the time, before I would have thrown it out the window and just indulged. I have lost 1lb and 2.5inches, I've been known to gain 8lbs on a two week holiday before. I have regained self confidence and actually look at my body and think it's quite sexy (so shoot me!), when before I couldn't stand the sight of it. I've learned that it's not just ok to be happy with how you look, it's normal. I've learned that other people's opinions should not colour my own, and they do not detract from who I am, what I believe and the life I choose for myself.
It's all about progress. Was it a perfect summer? Yes, sort of, in that imperfect kind of way, where good and bad mix, because that's what life is made up of.
Progress, small changes to how you are living, that will take you to where you want to be. Because drastic changes don't tend to stick. If you try to wake up tomorrow, go for a 5 mile run for the first time ever, eat nothing but lean protein and vegetables, kick your social media habit and drink half your body weight in water... how long do you think before you fail? Personally I'd get about a mile in and cry... I haven't been running in years! And give up social media? I'm more likely to take up running again!
So you're not going to wake up tomorrow and suddenly be perfect. Sorry. I kept expecting it from myself, and the realisation that it's not possible lifted a weight from my shoulders. Tomorrow will be the day, I'd think to myself. Tomorrow I will wake up and tick every box of my list and not fall short at all of my high expectations... Of course as soon as I failed, even a little, the perfect picture was broken so I would go drown my sorrows in chocolate. I still get angry and embarrassed when I fail at something, but now I have the support of people who will lift me up and let me try again, without that inner voice drowning out my thoughts with it's call for perfection.
However, now that summer is over and done with, I have kicked things up a gear. My nutrition is back on track, my workouts are ALL getting done, I do actually drink half my weight in water each day, and I have also decided to pay it forward by helping others with their nutrition and fitness goals as a lifestyle and fitness coach.
Asking for help when I needed it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. To be met with a group of kind, understanding and helpful women willing to do just that meant the world to me. Joining my own coach's team is a privilege and I can't wait to be a part of the journeys of even more women (and men!) like me.
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