Are you waiting for the “perfect time” to start eating better, exercising, or finally getting in shape? You are not alone. Many of us wait for the “perfect time” with our health, nutrition, and fitness. But this all-or-nothing thinking—as in, “If I don’t do this perfectly then it’s awful!”—rarely gets us “all.” It usually gets us “nothing.”
Maybe some of these phrases sound familiar
- When things are less busy.
- When the kids start school.
- When I feel better.
- When my fridge is full of the right foods.
- Tomorrow. Next week. Never.
The keeping safe feeling
For many, it’s a great distraction and justification. It helps us avoid the real—and risky—work of doing. For others, perfectionism and avoidance serve as strong armor against potential embarrassment, criticism, and failure.
“I could ___ but ___” keeps us safe from pain. Unfortunately, it’s also what keeps us from growing, thriving, and being who we know we have the potential to be. That’s why all-or-nothing thinking—If I don’t do this perfectly then it’s worthless—rarely gets us “all.” It usually gets us “nothing.”
There is no perfect time. There never will be. Unless you make your moments. Just so you know, nobody is going to give you any moments. You have to take moments.
Chase them. Make them happen. Make time out of other times.
Action come before motivation. And this frustrates us, of course.But it is this way. For everyone.
There is a perfect moment
There is actually always a perfect moment. That perfect moment is now. Here. Today. The living, breathing sliver of time that you have in this precise second. Because that is all you ever have: right now.
The saying “Every journey starts with the first step” is so wise but also true. All you have to do is start. And then, moments will keep moving, as moments do. One moment will stack on top of another and before you know it, you’ll have arrived at your destination.
One step at a time
“But I can’t!” You say. “I can’t get started! That is the problem, you see!” No, it’s not. If you can’t get started, you’re just jumping too far ahead.
You’re not starting with starting. You are trying to start somewhere in an imaginary middle. Let’s say you choose to start improving your nutrition.
That can be a good start—if it keeps you moving on to the next moment. But it is not a good start if it keeps you stuck in your chair, clicking through a blur of blogs and plans until it’s time for lights-out and you haven’t made a single good nutritional choice today.
So maybe, starting for you shouldn’t be reading. Maybe it should be walking to the fridge and picking out a fresh apple and eating it. Or making a shopping list and putting it next to your car keys for tomorrow.
What to do next
Here are some simple steps to help you get started.
Revise your expectations
Recognize that there is no perfect time and there never will be. There is only now.
Push through, embrace resistance.
Many people who are just starting out assume that because they feel resistance, they have failed. That because broccoli tastes bitter when they first try it, and because they accidentally overcook it, they just can’t eat vegetables. No. That’s just how it feels sometimes. Starting will often feel like resistance, at least at first. Like grinding the brain’s gears.
Carve out time
Nobody will give that time to you. You’ll need to take it. Give yourself permission to make yourself—and your fitness and health goals—a priority.
Find the time you need in your schedule. Don’t have time for an hour-long workout? No problem. How much time do you have? 20 minutes? 10 minutes? Work with what you’ve got. Don’t expect things to go perfectly smoothly. Instead, anticipate and strategize. Ask yourself:
What’s likely to get in the way of what I hope to accomplish?
What is something I can do today to help me keep going when I face those obstacles? Instead of waiting for things to ‘slow down,’ start making something happen right now, in the middle of the mess.
Let go of the concept of the lone hero. Instead, start building your support systems. Find someone to fire up your booster rockets until you can fly on your own.
Want help becoming the healthiest, fittest, strongest version of you?
Most people know that regular movement, eating well, sleep, and stress management are important for looking and feeling better. Yet they need help applying that knowledge in the context of their busy, sometimes stressful lives.
In order for a rocket to leave the earth, it has to fire extra-hard against gravity. It needs a boost. In order for a heavy train to get moving, it might need an extra engine.
Yes, you can start—and stay moving—on your own. But it sure helps when someone gives us a little nudge. Someone who can call us on our procrastination and perfection. Someone who can snap us out of our all-or-nothing trance with a gentle reminder.