February 22, 2022

Good nutrition is not about perfection



When you train and provide nutritional guidance for a long enough time, you begin noticing patterns in common dietary habits; more specifically, why so many people fail to lose weight.

A widely spread belief is that dieting is the only method to produce sustainable weight loss results. Most people think that turning their whole life upside down is necessary. They seem to believe that they need to “eat well” at all times or they cannot achieve their goal. They assume that they need to stop eating dessert, snacks, bread, pasta, and drinking alcohol; that they should eat more vegetables, and reduce fat and carb intake. Just reading this list will leave you exhausted and feeling discouraged. It is nearly impossible for anyone to do all of that, let alone someone living a fast-paced life with an unpredictable schedule.

Sadly, many people because they cannot do it all, do nothing. They quickly come to the misinformed conclusion that without perfect nutrition, no change is possible; thus, weight loss becomes an insurmountable mountain. It is daunting for one to imagine that they must turn their life around 180 degrees and avoid all the foods that they love… forever. No wonder so many people become overly anxious simply thinking about it. Anxiety and worries paralyse a person’s will, making any action towards reaching the desired goal impossible. 


Thinking that one needs to adhere to a complex plan or the latest diet trend to lose weight is a big mistake. The truth is that even taking the smallest step, for example changing one aspect of your eating habits, is what could produce the biggest long-term changes in terms of your body and health. Consistent small steps will accumulate and yield amazing results within months or years. The key to weight loss and good health is consistency, not the complexity and the perfection of the plan. A perfect plan is only as good as its implementation – so what happens if one cannot implement it in their lifestyle? Therefore, what is of utmost importance is that one allows the creation and implementation of their plan to be an ongoing, ever-evolving process. In order to do this, you need to start somewhere, beginning with daily, small constructive actions if you wish to experience any results.

Along the way, with every new small change, behaviors will slowly become habits if repeated often enough. Habits, good or bad, are hard to break. Therefore, creating positive habits is the key to sustainable and permanent changes. Moreover, research and my personal experience illustrates that changing one habit usually leads to the domino effect; one after another, positive habits continue to be developed. Eventually, it leads a person to become increasingly confident in their ability to transform the way they eat. Furthermore, by achieving one’s goal every day, albeit small, their confidence in their ability to succeed increases. And success breeds success. Thus, when the time comes to tackle a new goal, such as adding another weekly training session or changing another dietary habit, one will feel motivated and enthusiastic. They will no longer be anxious or fearful because they truly believe that they can do it. 

Take the example of someone who decides to not add his usual two packs of sugar in his two daily coffees. This does not represent “dieting”; it is simply one small dietary change. Twelve months from now, that person will have consumed approximately 17 000 calories less. The reduction in calories, from a poor dietary source, is phenomenal. It is indisputable that this -- in addition to the progressive formation of a few other habits -- will result in the person becoming healthier and losing weight, without the excruciating pain of dieting and fighting cravings all day long.


The “small steps” approach also greatly reduces any anxiety you might feel about the weight loss process. Most people who wish to lose weight become overly anxious because they anticipate the sacrifices that they will need to make and never engage in the process. Resultingly, many people never create the bridge between intentions and actions. However, making one change in your nutrition one month at a time is not very intimidating. It does not trigger fear and anxiety, thus it will be perceived as much more doable in your mind. I will say this time and time again: losing weight or working to improve your health is as much -- if not more -- of a mind game than a physical one. Your mind must be in the right state: confident and relaxed. Creating just a few new positive behaviors at a time is the best way to develop and maintain this state of mind.

When I coach businesspeople and executives, I always keep in mind that they work long hours, have unpredictable schedules, and cannot fully control their environment. For example, they might have to eat at restaurants multiple times per week for business purposes. Consequently, going on a diet or following a complex nutritional plan is inconceivable. One way or another, they would fail, often for reasons outside of their control. And when you fail at something repeatedly, it slowly chips away at your confidence in your ability to succeed. I want my clients to progressively build their confidence, not have it be destroyed. By changing one or two habits, the odds of succeeding are greatly improved. As such, their self-assurance, determination, and self-reliance will grow with time. It makes a world of difference and the whole journey becomes much more enjoyable. 

ACTIONABLE TIP: If you wish to lose weight or take better care of your health, forget about perfection. You are not planning to launch a new product with your company. You are not preparing for a big merger. Perfection is not required when it comes to nutrition. Instead, focus your efforts on slowly but surely getting better every day. Aim for small, yet constant, improvements. Forget about perfection because this becomes a sure path to failure. Remember that in the end, baby steps bring about the biggest changes. Identify one dietary habit -- just one -- that you could change or create this upcoming week and work at implementing it every day for the next 30 days.

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