Practice, not perfection

Many years ago I was talking to a neighbor of mine and I was lamenting how tight my clothes had become. We had moved to Texas and after several months of eating at the myriad excellent restaurants around town, my waistline was showing the effects.

My neighbor suggested I simply get some “fat pants”, it’s what she does when things get too tight. I wasn’t familiar with the “fat pants” or where to get a pair, or how they worked. “What are fat pants?” I asked. “Bigger pants” was the deadpan response. I realized I was at a choice point in my life, choose to accept the enlarging waist and get some fat pant to accommodate my sloth. Or, I could choose to eat better and get my health back on track, saving me the painful concept of the bigger pants.

I chose to lose weight and work myself into my normal clothes again thankfully. This process I have since learned is applicable to many areas of life. The process of working towards a goal, an objective, an idea, a dream.

I have learned during my weight loss journey, I have learned again during my professional career, my marriage, fatherhood, entrepreneurship. I have experienced the same context in different formats. Like watching a movie where the family is in danger and the husband/father comes in and saves the day against all odds. This movie has been made a thousand times. The actors change, and script and scenery change, but it’s really just the same movie over again. These movies span all genres just like the important aspects of achieving a goal.

Progress on the road is infinitely more important than being perfect along the journey. I recall going on the Atkins diet (basically keto, before keto was cool!) and I dove in on a Monday morning. From beer and restaurants to zero carbs from one day to the next. Wasn’t really a great plan I admit, and the first two weeks were a nightmare, the third only slightly better. I did however steal peanut butter once a day during these first few weeks, and a beer at night a few times. These “indiscretions” are what gave me the willpower to keep going and not give up on the entire diet.

As I got better at eating a very minimal amount of carbs it became easier and I was able to adapt and adjust voluntarily when I felt ready to. I eventually gave up peanut butter and beer as I had progressed to a point. I had lost a lot of weight, and now was willing to sacrifice further to attain my goal.

There are times in life when we can be laser focused on a goal, AND we can deviate a bit to allow ourselves room to continue instead of crash. Countless people I’ve encountered give a 110%, (rise and grind bro!) only to burn out before getting what they were after. In my experience, getting three quarters of the way isn’t the same as crossing the finish line. Perhaps this is what the old “tortoise and the hare” fable is all about.

If you are going on a diet, starting a new business, beginning a fitness regime or changing fitness styles, (or one of so many other journeys) give yourself some leeway to have fun along the way. Sacrifices will need to be made, it will be difficult, and this is ok, this is part of the accomplishment. There’s no reason though to make it so difficult you can’t complete it. If you take a day off, eat that donut(s) at the office, miss a day of training don’t beat yourself up. It’s all good, simply continue where you left off and enjoy the progress you’ve made thus far.

Practice and persistence (consistency) will always win. Enjoy the journey and your much more likely to reach your destination.

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