There is no perfect person.
We are perfectly imperfect.
Yet when many of us contemplate a health plan, weight loss program, or other lifestyle change, we start with the expectation that we need to be perfect.
But how could you be?
We have stresses, and feelings, and previous habits that we find difficult to break, and maybe a job or school or kids or a pet, and days when you feel like crap. Plus, Netflix. And cookies….
If perfection is required, then most of us might as well not even bother.
But I can tell you now that changing your body, and taking back control of your health isn’t a pass or fail scenario.
What if I told you that almost any effort, no matter how small or imperfect it may be, could result in real, measurable, sustainable progress?
Well, thanks to our awesome coaches at Precision Nutrition, they have solid proof that it’s not just a nice idea: It’s the truth.
Changing your body really doesn’t require 100% all the time, from the start, during your journey or even during maintenance.
(I know, I know. You’re thinking; “Elyse, you always go on about how you just don’t need some things in your diet at all!” And yes, that is 100% correct. But it took me years to get to that point. The point where I no longer consume any highly processed foods and there is no sugar (man-made/processed) at all in my diet. None. Again, years. It took time. Research. Slow change. Slow exclusions.)
Our blog topic today comes from the team at Precision Nutrition who just finished crunching an insane amount of data from their nutrition coaching program where clients give them daily feedback.
· 12 months
· 1,000 clients
That’s nearly 1,000,000 data points!! These guys really know how to bring us the good news.
All to help us better understand how much effort it takes to make meaningful, sustainable (there’s that word again) change.
Here’s how it worked:
Clients check in every day and tell the coaches whether or not they completed a workout (or other activity) and did “their habits.” (usually a change in diet or nutrition)
Habits are daily health practices—such as eating lean protein at each meal or consuming 5 servings of fruits and vegetables—habits that are given every week to add to the new habits already instilled. These habits accumulate, and by the end of the year, they’re incorporating about 25 in total. (Guys, this really is how you change!)
They also regularly report their body measurements and answer progress surveys, where they include other important things, like how they’re feeling.
What was discovered didn’t surprise us, but it might surprise you guys.
Just putting in some effort, even small amounts, saw change. Good change.
Even when people did half the amount of workouts recommend or only implemented half the habits issued, people lost weight.
Clients who were less than 50% consistent—but stayed in the program for the full year—wound up losing between 5-6% of their total body weight.
5-6% weight loss may not sound like much but That’s sustained weight loss—something that stays with you, and something you can build on. And people did it by practicing some small healthy habits, not following rigid meal plans or extreme diets that eliminate entire food groups. (Hello Keto diet)
People got healthier!! Say what?!!
That’s because research suggests that a 5-6% decrease in body fat can lead to:
It didn’t matter what a dumpster fire of flaming stress some people’s lives were…(John Beradi’s words, not mine) if people were able to figure out how to take small, meaningful actions day to day, they were able to be consistent anyway.
This often meant having creative, realistic solutions, like:
It also meant knowing how to scale back a little—rather than completely shutting down—whenever things didn’t go as expected.
For example, you’ve slept through your alarm, you spill milk all over the kitchen bench and your toddler decided to paint his walls…..with his poop...
Suddenly, you have no time to get to the gym. But instead of skipping your workout altogether, you can turn a walk with the toddler in the pram or a trip to the basketball courts with your kids into the “workout.”
It may not have been what you planned, but you still managed some form of exercise. This is called “adjusting the dial”, (another great one from John Beradi) and it helps you stay consistent, even when life gets really messy.
You can apply this concept to not only your exercise habits but also to your eating and overall wellness habits as well.
The study found that the more consistent people were, the better they felt, in all areas of life.
This happens because people feel good about the changes they see in their bodies, such as less pain, more fitness, and the ability to do more movements, more easily. Its not just about the weight, people!
But it also happens because people are acting on their own behalf.
We gain positive energy, confidence, and resilience after and because we act, not the other way around.
Even a small boost in confidence might mean:
Each action you take, and new habits you make, only creates more action and more new habits.
No perfection required.
You can still become, at last, the healthy, thriving, confident person you’ve wanted to be—just by putting in whatever effort you’ve got, no matter how small you think it is.
Your best really is good enough.
You are good enough!
Original research, journal and post from John Beradi and the team at Precision Nutrition.
Direct quotes have been adjusted.
Opinions in this post are that of the author alone.
Evidence for research and results can be found at precisionnutrition.com.
Photo from Precision Nutrition Website www.precisionnutrition.com
Elyse and Marty