I’m not exactly sure when health and fitness became such an all or nothing world, but somewhere along the line, we started to give ourselves two options:
Diet and workout to extremes or don’t do anything at all.
- You’re either adhering to the Whole30 protocol perfectly or eating pizza at 1 AM.
- It’s working out every single day or going weeks without hitting the gym.
- You’ve meal prepped for the entire week, or you’re grabbing fast food for every meal.
- You feel successful, or you feel worthless.
- Life is good or bad.
- Change is needed, or it’s not.
- Something is right, or it’s wrong.
It’s like we’re all either ALL IN or not giving a fahk with the YOLO mentality. I’m talking about life as it pertains to the kitchen and gym, but this mindset transcends every facet.
Understanding the Irrational Behavior
It may sound counterintuitive, but being all-in often does more harm than good for two reasons. IT’S NOT SUSTAINABLE, and it’s IRRATIONAL. Sooner or later, life throws us a curveball that requires us to flip the script, and if you can’t adapt, it’s all too easy to get completely derailed. Furthermore, this perspective plays a huge role in how we view ourselves, our experiences, the world around us, and our success, self-value, and worth. It tells a dangerous story that when snowballs can be hard to stop.
There’s an analogy floating around the internet that goes something like, eating an unplanned cheat meal and then blowing the rest of your diet for the day is the equivalent of slashing the rest of your tires just because you got one flat.
It makes sense, right? Despite the rational nature of that sentiment, the all or nothing mentality is an old habit that dies hard because most of us have been thinking this way for YEARS.
It stops us from starting goals, and it prevents us from living our lives once the pursuit of a goal begins.
- If I can’t be perfect, it’s not worth doing
- I’ll only be successful if I maintain complete adherence
Consistency, NOT to be confused with all-or-nothing, is critical, but so is flexibility. The two go hand-in-hand.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m all about moderation, balance, and flexible dieting. I have A LOT of fitness goals. But I drink wine, eat dessert, and take rest days. I know it can be a HARD mentality to adopt. Shit, it was HARD FOR ME to adopt. But just like everything else, it’s worth taking the time to train and condition. It’s a muscle that’s worth the flex.
Breaking free from the handcuffs of perfection, restriction, and the all-or-nothing mentality is hard because we place EXTREME consequences on SMALL moments.
If you eat an indulgent meal, it does NOT derail weeks or progress. Really. One meal is a drop in the bucket compared to weeks, months, or years of work.
Taking a few days off is insignificant. Don’t believe me? Think about a few days compared to years of enthusiastic exercise.
What you do MOST of the time, matters more than what you do some of the time.
You won’t’ find a sustainable lifestyle in a PDF or meal plan, but rather the freedom to think for yourself! A PDF can’t make choices for you, but it CAN educate or help you shape your values. The key to longterm success in independent thinking and decision making. The ability to make thoughtful choices, and have the accountability and responsibility to act in line with your goals.
Guess what? I’ve got a visual aid that can help! A basic calendar and color-coded system that gives you LONG TERM visual of adherence
Read on; I’ll show you how to make your own.
Let Me Digress for a Moment
A few months ago, I executed an 8-week cut where I increased my caloric deficit to prepare for a photoshoot. I knew it was my last diet for the year before I started my building strategy, and while it was a bit aggressive, but I didn’t mind because it was short term. Additionally, I knew I wouldn’t be perfect, and I’d have moments where I’d slip, and if I did, I would HAVE to right the course pretty much right away if I wanted to go into that shoot looking the way I wanted.
I decided to use this cut as a real-life case study to:
- Share how you can shape your mindset as it relates to consistency and adherence.
- Show that daily “slip-ups” aren’t as dangerous as we make them out to be.
- Defining success in simple terms.
I had 56 days to tweak my physique…and prove a point.
Behold — the bones of my adherence tracker. I use a grid just like this when I’m serious about bringing something to fruition. Trust me when I say it’s SO satisfying to complete. Here’s how you use it.
Step One: Define your end goal
Be SUPER specific.
Step Two: Establish Your Timeframe
Set a start and end date.
Step Three: Identify your top priorities
Outline your three top priorities. You don’t have to do three, but I wouldn’t do more. Keep it short, sweet, and straightforward.
Step Four: Color Code Performance
This color-coding system ranks each day by your level of adherence:
- Red (1 or none out of 3 goals were met)
- Yellow (2 out of 3 goals were met)
- Green (3 out of 3 goals were met)
Step Five: Execute and Track
I use Google Sheets so I can access it from my phone and update in real-time at the end of the day. It’s honestly more satisfying to look at than Instagram. You amplify your level of accountability, and therefore, you’re more excited to get to work!
A visual aid that captured DAILY data to show LONG TERM progress.
Back to the Point: Ditching Your All-Or-Nothing Mentality
Take a look at the below visuals. The top is what you THINK will happen. The middle is how I executed my 8-week cut. Below is what could have happened if I let my all-or-nothing mentality get the best of me. There is A HUGE difference between the three.
The first example is not realistic, and unless you don’t work, never leave your house, have no friends or family, and hate having fun, this will most likely NEVER be your experience. And can I say, thank God?! What kind of life would that be anyway?! So do yourself a favor, and craft your expectations as intelligently as you craft your plan. Knowing it may not be 100% and that’s okay!
The second example was my 8-week experience. Was it perfect? LOL NO. Absolutely not. I achieved 75% adherence, which left me feeling pretty damn successful. I looked the part for my shoot, I didn’t beat myself up over my “red” days, and had a great relationship with food, meaning no obsession or binges. The “red” days were days I partied my ass off and had the time of my life. I wouldn’t change it or trade it.
The final example is if I was all or nothing. In this case, I’d use the days I went off track mid-week to keep the downward spiral going until Monday when the “start over” mentality usually takes over. That’s 51% adherence and a HUGE difference.
Note: I like to make notes of any ridiculousness to remind myself that life happens, and when it does, it’s OKAY. The middle tracker is evidence of my one-to-two-day hangovers because I’m getting old as fahk. One hangover deserves a burger the next day, am I right? Fahk me. LOLZ.
Consistency should be prioritized over perfection. If you waited for a time where you’d be able to diet and workout perfectly, you’d wait forever. And if you stopped every time a restaurant menu crossed your path you’d never re-start or move forward. This is the real world, and real-life requires the ability to adapt and be flexible. The better prepared you are to take your own liberties while acting in accordance with your goals the better off you’ll be.
Want your own? DOWNLOAD YOUR ADHERENCE TRACKER TEMPLATE HERE! Use it via Excel, or copy and paste it into Google Sheets (my preference).