Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good
Halloween is coming up again. Like every year, that means costumes, parties, tricks, and treats. Lots and lots of treats.
For every calorie counter and fitness freak, holidays can be a source of anxiety. People have a tendency to eat (unhealthy) and drink (alcohol) for every occasion under the sun. It takes a great deal of willpower to overcome the constant temptation. It’s taxing. Eventually you give into temptation at some point or another. You may feel like you failed, making it harder to pick back up the next day. You may crash and burn totally and give up eating healthy because you caved for one night. Sound familiar?
If this sounds like you, I got something to tell you:
Food as a Social Bridge
Before I explain why it’s OK, let’s talk about what food means in the modern age. It’s not about survival anymore. It’s social and casual. It’s love and relationships. It’s business and professional. It’s family and togetherness. Food fits in about every kind of social interaction there is.
Unfortunately, we live in a human culture where what we eat is not what is optimal for our bodily health. Combine this with the social aspect of food, it becomes difficult to have complete control over what you eat all the time. How many restaurants are available that have healthy food? Even further, what if you are looking for a low carb meal since you are in fat burning mode and don’t want to spike your insulin? If they do have that option, it will usually be a $12 small chicken breast with oil drowned broccoli on the side. Not really that ideal. And expensive.
If you have an active social life, you probably get invited to eat out multiple times a week. If you have close family, they probably invite you home and treat you to home cooking. If you have a regular job, you probably get invited by coworkers or managers to lunch meetings. All these situations add up, and in each situation it is difficult to manage getting the right meal.
What I’m trying to get at is this: unless you want to have no friends, no business connections, and an annoyed family, it’s near impossible to have complete control over every meal. Believe me, I have been there. If you say “No” enough times to people, they stop bothering to ask.
There are times when you need to let it go. Eat some greasy Chinese food with your Dad on a lunch date to celebrate his promotion. Enjoy some sugary baked goods with your old friend you haven’t seen in years. Partake in some candy on Halloween weekend with your friends. It’s OK to let go once in a while.
The key here is choosing wisely. Your coworker will probably forgive you for declining their lunch invitation so you can get in a work out. But if your Mom bakes a homemade cake on Christmas day, don’t refuse. Have a slice and tell her it’s delicious. You won’t compromise your health and your Mom will be happy. So why not?
The Pareto Principle
The Pareto principle states that 80% of the effects (results) comes from 20% of the causes (effort). Also known as the 80/20 rule, this concept applies to anything from business and investing to fitness.
We are human. We cannot be 100% all the time. It’s not sustainable, and sustainability is the key to a healthy lifestyle. So instead we must try to be 90/10, 80/20, maybe even 70/30. Find your balance.
Work hard for that 80% and plan for the 20%. Be strategic about your 20%. Eat the homemade Halloween cupcakes your friend slaved over to make perfect, but avoid the store bought sugar cookies someone brought.
Food is a social event. In order to have a healthy and active social life, you have let go of your diet neuroticism and plan for some diet derailings. The idea is you can’t control your diet all of the time, but only 80% of the time. So use that 20% that you are not in control wisely. Use it to bond with friends and family. Use it to celebrate a big life event. Don’t use it to drink 10 beers by yourself watching TV in bed on the weekend (unless, I guess, that’s what you REALLY want). Get the picture?