Progress ≠ Perfection

Perfectionism.  It’s a recurring theme for me…and probably a lot of other people, which is why I write about it frequently.  I also think that balance goes hand-in-hand with perfectionism, which is another area of difficulty for me.

Let me say first that I think I have done a great job with balance for the past 3 weeks.  I’ve been eating healthy, without being obsessive, and making healthy choices when I eat out.  Even on days where I didn’t eat so great (i.e. the day my boss took me to Five Guys for lunch!), I got back on track for the rest of the day and made sure I put extra effort and intensity into my workout that night.  I’ve also enjoyed spending time with my new friends in Charlotte, which means some beer and wine and yummy (i.e. unhealthy) food.

That being said, my perfectionist side is beginning to get a foothold.  I am comparing myself to other girls in the gym, including one who may end up being my training partner soon!  Now that I’m in the gym so much, it’s hard not to focus on my appearance when I am surrounded by super fit people (a welcome change from my gym in Phoenix) and seeing myself in the mirror.  I find that I want to be stricter with my nutrition and increase the intensity and duration of my workouts.  It’s a fine line for me between being ready to kick things up a notch and skewing the balance too far in one direction.

One thing that I was reminded of this week is that you don’t have to be 100% compliant to your program to see progress.  Granted, you can’t be 20% compliant and expect great results either.  I saw two examples of this over the weekend.  Much to my amusement, my trainer told me that his cheat meal on the weekends is 14 beers at the pool.  The crazy thing is that he is able to pull that off and still stay lean.  He adheres religiously to a strict diet, lifts hard, and does his cardio during the week, so for him, 14 beers one day a week is something he can do and still maintain a lean physique.  Another example is my potential training partner, Christine, who works at my gym.  She is solid muscle and about 11% body fat (she hasn’t competed, but would like to), but she went out drinking last night, had some late night Wendy’s, followed by Chinese food.  Does she do this all of the time?  No way.  But every once in a while, apparently so.  I have this ridiculous thought in my head that anything less than 100% compliance results in no progress or even backtracking, and that’s just not true.

Will you see better results with 100% compliance?  Absolutely.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make progress with 90% or 80%.  The minimum threshold varies by individual and by what your goals are.  My point is that one meal or one drink (or 14 drinks apparently for some!) won’t completely wipe out everything else I did for that week.  One deviation is not a valid reason for throwing in the towel and giving up completely, nor is it a valid reason to feel super guilty and beat yourself up.  One of my biggest problems with the plan I used to be on is that there were never any cheat meals built-in.  For me, that sets the bar at a height that is impossible to reach consistently over time.  When you accept and plan for cheat meals weekly, it decreases the guilt and allows you to do it in an intelligent way vs. binge eating on junk food one night because you are burnt out on dieting and succumb to your cravings.  That’s one of the things I really like about my trainer – he holds me accountable without putting a ton of pressure on me to be perfect.  He knows I’m in a new city and want to have fun and meet people, and the plan we’ve created has that kind of flexibility factored in.

On that note, I felt pretty bad ass on Saturday.  To end the workout, my trainer threaded one of those huge ropes through SIX 45 lb plates (that’s 270 lbs people!) and had me do rope pulls across the gym floor, then put on the harness and run the weight back to the other end.  I have to admit that when he first told me what he wanted to do, I thought, “Holy shit – is he crazy?  There’s no way I can do that!”  But that’s one of the great things about having a trainer – they are usually a better judge of what you are capable of than you are.  I may not have had the same look of intensity as the guy below, but I still think I probably looked pretty hard-core! 🙂


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