Yes, the best health choice is not always crystal clear, and sure, the cascade of seemingly conflicting health information can lead to analysis paralysis, but the wrong choice is usually obvious.
So, stop trying to make the best choice. Commit to not making life harder for your future self. Commit to not making the worst choice.
Picture this, you are looking at the fridge thinking “What should I eat? Salad with chicken? That doesn’t have enough healthy fat, and I was told to eat more keto-ish. A smoothie? Too much fruit—I just read fruit is basically sugar. What about turkey and vegetables? The turkey is meat—that documentary told me no meat. Screw it … this is all too complicated! I’m going to have a beer and microwave a pizza.”
Do you see where I am going with this?
Life is stressful, we are expected to make endless choices to simply get through the day. Weighing the proportional pros of all the healthy (or even moderately healthy) choices is exhausting—it can easily become the straw that breaks the camel. When we don’t see a clear option of which of the good is “best,” it is easy to rationalize abandoning all the other potential positives in favour of the least good choice. It’s as if, since we couldn’t decide on which was the best positive, none of them are worth it. Wrong.
Sure, the best choice is not always clear, but the wrong one usually is.
For the next month, I challenge you to live by the rule “F*ck perfect. I commit to not picking the blatantly wrong choice.”
I get it, staying on the health horse is challenging at the best of times and these last months have been anything but the best of times. Isolation has been emotionally and logistically scary, exhausting, and uncertain. Navigating the constant “new normal” through the various phases of re-integration is a whole new kettle of stress. These added stressors make it more—not less—critical to eliminate as many barriers to health as possible. When we are exhausted and emotionally and cognitively overwhelmed it becomes that much harder to make choices that will make our future selves proud.
So, stop trying to make your future self proud and simply commit to not burdening the future you with a barrage of missed workouts, sleepless nights, and food binges. By never picking the outright wrong choice you don’t make life harder for your future self.
Scale not budging? Don’t binge (the worst choice) and make your weight loss journey harder tomorrow. The not “crappy” choice is having a healthy meal.
Feeling like you’re not becoming a stronger runner? You won’t get stronger by abandoning your goals altogether (the worst choice). In the moment, the “not worst” choice is to do some type of training. Do part of your workout, dance, or go for a walk. Remember, something is better than nothing. Can’t bring yourself to do the full workout? Go for a walk or dance around your home.
Have a craving to binge eat? To skip your workout? To stay up and watch TV instead of sleep? Think how much harder this will make life for your future self—you are defeating the you of tomorrow before today is even done.
I am not arguing that you shouldn’t analyze why the scale is not budging and why you are not progressing at running. What I am saying is, make the “not-worst choice” in the moment, then after completing the choice, take a moment to analyze why you might be hitting a snag.
Analyze the data and make changes to your plan, but only after the fact. In the moment, when your emotions are attempting to guide you astray—when you want to say “Screw it” and pick the obvious wrong choice—pick one of the many good choices to stay on your horse. Analyze the data after the fact instead of reacting to emotion in the moment of desire.
In summary, you don’t have to be “the best,” but don’t sabotage yourself into justifying “the worst.” When you do make a “worst” decision (you will at some point; you are human) course-correct as quickly as possible and learn from the experience.