Fitness

Setting Realistic Goals, Rejecting “Perfection”: A Note From Coach Jen

Voltaire said, “Perfection is the enemy of good.”

Oftentimes, we wish our lives were different. We want a better job, more money, faster weight loss and to feel happy.

I think that self-criticism is at the root of most of our pain and unhappiness. So often, we overlook the beauty in our lives, surroundings and our own bodies. I believe that we also underestimate the power of our thoughts and internal dialog. If we are more gentle with ourselves, everything and everyone will be more gentle with us.

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We are our greatest critic

How many times have you gone into the holidays thinking, “This year will be different?” Or, how many times have you gone into the New Year saying, “This time I’ll reach my goals.”

Not every holiday is picture perfect and not every New Year’s resolution is attainable. It’s natural to get angry or feel upset with ourselves or someone else when challenges arise. But, the real challenge lies in how fast can we accept, resolve and get back to appreciation.

Research has shown that self-criticism is linked to depression, anxiety and eating disorders. We feel angry, afraid, frustrated or disappointed because we judge ourselves, our feelings and our experiences too harshly. Instead of being our own best friend, too often we are our biggest enemy.

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Numbers don’t define you

Don’t let your weight define how great you are. When I started to work as a nutritionist, I was overwhelmed to learn that the number on the scale define happiness for so many of my clients. I often heard them say, “If I weighed X pounds, I’d be happy.” This inspired me to help individuals see their beauty.

We are the ones who tell ourselves we are not good enough. We forget what we’ve already achieved and that we have many reasons to be proud of ourselves. We only see that we fixate on the 5 pounds we have left to lose, not the 20 pounds that we’ve lost. We focus on the 48 weeks left in the year, not the healthy 8fit meals we’ve created or workouts we’ve completed so far.

I’m telling you, focus on how far you’ve come and the positive things in your life.

Let your weaknesses become your strengths

I have to be honest: I used to be hard to myself, and it was mostly about things that were out of my control.

I was bullied in school because I was taller than everyone else. I was even taller than all of the guys, so, of course, no one wanted to date me. I was ashamed and angry at myself and at my parents for making me so tall.

I had this idea that the other kids would like me more if I was smaller. Truth is, I shouldn’t have cared about what others thought or said. It just wasn’t easy to let it go.

Over time, I realized that loving myself and being more confident in my appearance made others view me differently. Eventually, I found myself surrounded by kind people who never teased me for my height.

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Don’t compare yourself to others

Just because we can’t do a headstand like the person next to us in yoga class, doesn’t mean we are worthless. Remember your strengths. Remember that just because you can’t do something now doesn’t mean you will never be able to do it. It might have taken the person next to you five long years and several mental breakdowns until she was finally able to hold that headstand.

You have your own strengths that make you unique and that others appreciate. Maybe you’re a good listener, a great cook, or an amazing storyteller. Love yourself for it.

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The power of expectations

Focus on setting realistic goals and reaching small milestones, not just on the achieving the end goal. Celebrate every small milestone, no matter how tiny, and be proud of yourself. Once you reach one goal, set up the next realistic expectation.

For example, if your goal is to lose weight, try not to think about the final number you want to reach. Your goal shouldn’t be to lose 20 pounds. Instead, gently focus on a weight loss of 1 pound per week or 5 pounds per month.

We are easily discouraged if our expectations are unrealistic, which causes us to give up too soon. Notice every positive change. For instance, maybe you’re more energized during the day or maybe you’re not out of breath after taking the stairs. Be grateful for it.

We have the choice

It’s time to choose to love yourself. It’s time to choose to make workouts and healthy meals part of your routine by setting realistic goals — big or small. It’s time to see your strengths and use them to manage challenges better.

Don’t aim for perfection; you are perfect the way you are.

With love,

Coach Jen