Have you ever thought that you’d found the “perfect” program for fitness and/or nutrition and decided to follow it?  And did you adopt this “perfect” program, knowing deep down, that you wouldn’t (or couldn’t!) stick with it long term?  I do that a lot.  Why do we do that?  But more importantly, how do I stop doing that?  How do I move from grasping at unattainable perfection to moving towards real progress?  Here’s how:




Don’t fall prey to what I call the “Over doing and under doing syndrome…” — training extremely hard for a long period of time and then getting hurt; eating super clean (no carbs, no junk, no sugar) then, eating super bad (nothing but carbs, junk and sugar).

I find that this happens with work too.  I pile too many things on my plate, trying to do too much in too little time.  Do you work all the time and sacrifice personal time to take care of your health?  Have you heard the saying that “… Some people spend half their life sacrificing their HEALTH to build their wealth… and then the second half of their life, they use their wealth to try to buy-back their health.”  Is that you?

Identifying this behavior or pattern is the first step to changing it.  If you find that you are on the overdoing-underdoing rollercoaster, try thinking “Progress…not perfection”.



More is not always better.   In fact, doing less, but doing things consistently, is the secret to success for many.  In the book Essentialism, Greg McKeown, explains:

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”
― Greg McKeownEssentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less


If we don’t make it to the gym, we immediately seize upon the conclusion that we shouldn’t bother sticking to the diet that day, either.  But our real thinking should be “If I don’t make it to they gym, I MUST stick to the diet!”  But just because you can’t make it to the gym doesn’t mean you must give up on making PROGRESS:  In our travel workout tips, we tell clients to do MNN WALKS, which are 10 minute walks in the Morning, at Noon and at Night (MNN).  These are walks you can sneak into your day to help get your 10K + steps.

When you think in terms of “perfection”, you think — If I can’t get to the gym, then I can’t exercise today.  WRONG!  Think in terms of “progress” – even 10 minutes 3 times a day will keep your plan moving forward!

One of the best online nutrition programs, Precision Nutrition, is a 12-month program that slowly helps clients lose weight through making (or changing) small, consistent habits.  There is no diet, there is no extreme workout program:  there is, however, a focus on making consistent small steps that lead people to make changes that will impact them over time.  This, my friend, is progress.

So here are some examples to illustrate the difference between Progress and Perfection.  Where is YOUR mindset?



Do you see yourself anywhere here?  We can draw the same sort of lists about any number of activities, such as spending time with others, making healthy meals or spending less money on “things” and more on experiences.  Quoting again:

“We overvalue nonessentials like a nicer car or house, or even intangibles like the number of our followers on Twitter or the way we look in our Facebook photos. As a result, we neglect activities that are truly essential, like spending time with our loved ones, or nurturing our spirit, or taking care of our health.”
― Greg McKeownEssentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less


So, look at what you want to achieve this year.  If getting in shape and weight loss are some of your goals, think small, consistent steps over time.  Think progress.

And starting right now, this week…

What are one or two simple (that are easy) actions you can take to move yourself even 1% closer to where you want to be?  It starts there, with one, simple step… because in the end, it’s about progress, not perfection!


Phil Dozois, Founder and Owner of Breakthru Fitness