Striving for consistency, not perfection


WE ALL HAVE friends who espouse nuggets of wisdom that impact our views and our actions. Our entire life, in fact, is filled with these nuggets, and the value of them is often defined by the person who says them or the stage we’re at in our life journey. They can change our way of thinking for better or for worse, but they always have an effect.

Several years ago, a good friend of mine told me something that will stay with my for the rest of my life. It was something simple, but also something truthful. We were discussing my daily routine. My day, I told him, starts around 5am, when I stumble around half-awake until I’ve had my first coffee. Then I take a quick look at the news before going to the gym for 30 minutes for my morning work out. This usually involves some kind of cardio, either on a treadmill or bike, followed by a predictable weight training routine. Then I eat a quick breakfast of oatmeal or a shake before heading to work by 7.30am. For close to 15 years, this has been my routine with very little variation. It was as I was describing this that my friend asked me if I knew the ‘best workout known to man’. But before I could answer, he answered his own question: ‘The best workout is one that you can and will do consistently.’

I dismissed his claim until I severely injured my lower back. My injury meant that I needed several surgeries and epidural injections. And when I returned to my workout I found that what I was attempting to do was now impossible. Instead of doing those things that I thought were required for good health, I began to do what I could achieve and would practice consistently. And my results were just as good – just as my friend had predicted.

I’ve written a lot about obesity and the effects the choices we make have on our quality of life. I’ve written about the importance of self-discipline for the individual as well as to our culture, and the need for better education about nutrition and healthcare so that people Make The Informed Choice. But what I have failed to communicate is my empathy for those who are limited to certain activities or have conditions that make certain actions virtually impossible. And this is what happened to me.

My goal remains the same. I hope that everyone who reads my blog stops and considers their choices and the results they may achieve with only the smallest tweaks to their diet and exercise routine. In our efforts to lose weight, gain muscle, look good or just be healthy, we often spend an inordinate amount of time wondering what to do, or fixate on ambitious daily goals and give up when we find they’re too hard. Sometimes we get so stuck in a certain routine that when something happens to disrupt it, we don’t know what to do. But simple changes can lead to incredible outcomes. So long as a workout is still a workout, consistency is the most important thing. The same is true of diet: so long as it’s healthy, strive for consistency, not perfection.

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