All (perfect) or nothing (failure)
Ah, the old health and fitness all or nothing.
It's pretty black and white isn't it? We either do it 100% or we turn our 1% slip ups into a 100% self reported failure.
I hate to break it to you, but life just isn't like that. I have hundreds of clients who don't stick 100% to their food plans or exercise programs but still manage to reach their goals - imagine if all of them just said "Well, I didn't do 100%, so I've failed, so I'll quit". As some of you may know I'm a recovered binge eater (yes, a clinical, eat in secret, eat everything in sight and then eat some more binge eater...not just a pig out every now and then). I managed to lose 25kg while still binge eating and stand on stage in a spangly bikini in front of hundreds of people. The one thing I learnt (and trust me, it took me a long time to learn) that "falling off the wagon" does not mean "I have failed therefore I should give up".
Like I said, life doesn't work like that.
Let's take a goal to lose 20kg. Ok, so with a good plan, that you stick to 100% you might be looking at 1kg a week. But wait, during this time I guarantee you are going to get sick, you may have to attend a funeral, your pet will get run over, you will probably attend a wedding, you will certainly attend a birthday (if not your own), someone will peer pressure you into trying their baking, and if you're female, yes you are going to get PMT. Suck it up and accept that life isn't perfect, and neither will your food or exercise and yes you are going to have lapses from the plan. That's just how it is - accept it now and your journey will be a whole lot easier.
When you went to school, I bet you found the 7 times table hard, but did you tell your teacher you give up...or did you keep practicing? As adults we forget that practice makes perfect. It doesn't matter if you're 9 or 39, the learning process and the process of breaking and forming habits doesn't change.
So with all these things life throws at us, our 1kg a week may actually turn into 500g a week. Does that mean you've failed? Of course not, what was the goal? To lose 20kg right? We all know that we have to make our goals realistic and timely, so if you tell yourself you're going to lose 20kg between now and 4 weeks time, then you're actually sabotaging yourself...why would you do that?
The other thing to remember is that goal posts can be shifted. So if you fall off the wagon and that 20kg in 20 weeks isn't looking so realistic, then change the time frame. There isn't a force field around you that blocks you from changing a goal. So what if your weight loss is 2 steps forward, 1 step back. Suck it up, and get on with it - it's 20kg and you'll get there if you don't quit.
Who cares how fast you're moving - just keep going at your pace in the direction you want to go and you'll get there. Sure it takes longer...but what's important is that you get there. Remember the last time you drove somewhere and got lost, I'll bet you didn't turn off the engine and go I failed. You found your way and you ended up at the destination a little bit late, again, who cares - did your life fall apart because of it?
It takes 21 days to break a habit and 3 days to form a new one, so if you "fall off the wagon" just fall off it quickly and get back on, don't re-form your old habits again. Enjoy the treats that you had, stop feeling guilty and keep remembering that this is a process, not a stupid game that you will either win or lose.
If you're still an all or nothing person after reading this, then here's some numbers for you. You're looking at 90% "perfect" for weight loss, and 80% "perfect" for holding the same weight. So let's take a food plan of 5 meals a day. That's 35 meals a week, so that's around 3 meals that you could probably be a little more lax on if you look at the 90/10 rule. 80/20 that's about 6 meals. I wouldn't exactly call that a fail. Go and google Pareto Principle, you will very quickly find out that the entire worlds idea of "perfect" is actually 80%. So if you want to be 100% then you are in fact not perfect according to Pareto. Damn.
You haven't reached the finish line until you reach the finish line...so why are you stopping?