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The f*ck it button is a great concept I first heard Brian Keane speak about. What does it mean?
“I’ll start on Monday.”
“I’ll resume healthy eating once the gyms reopen.”
“I’m going to wait until…I meet my work deadline/my college assignments are done/the evenings get longer.”
Most of us come up with a number of worthy-feeling justifications for taking a “breather” from our health and fitness efforts. Often it comes down to one essential reason:
Life gets busy and stressful and when it does, we press the ‘pause button’ on our health and fitness until things slow down and are less crazy.
The reality? Things never slow down permanently.
So we get stuck in an endless cycle of: Giving health and fitness our all for a few weeks – eating well, training more often and getting out for more walks.
Then, something happens that “breaks the chain.” Maybe we miss a workout, pigged out at the weekend or just simply fell out of a routine.
We go from being “all in” to “all out.” And the cycle repeats itself at different times of the year.
But what if there were a way to keep making progress? Even during the busiest days, weeks and months?
As quoted in an online nutrition course I took – instead of having the “all or nothing” mindset, aim for “always something.” In this blog post I’m going to show you how.
My Own Personal Struggles with the “All or Nothing” Mentality
I’ve had struggles in the best with being a perfectionist. I’d set high standards for myself – particularly in my workouts and nutrition, and if I didn’t meet them I’d feel like a failure.
For example, I used to go WAY overboard with my warm-up which would involve doing a series of foam rolling & mobility routines before going through a full dynamic warm up. The whole thing would take over 30 minutes before I ever even touched a weight. But I had this “all or nothing” mentality that I had to do this before every workout or else I was taking shortcuts.
The same way with my nutrition. I used to only eat carb after my workouts. Any other time during the day, I’d label carbs as being “bad” which developed a negative relationship with food.
What I didn’t realise was having this “all or nothing” mentality was a fast and reliable way for me to sabotage and damage my relationship with health, fitness and exercising.
It wasn’t until I started coaching clients in the gym in the evening after school (when I worked as a teacher) and after my workout that I realised that I couldn’t devote spending 30 minutes on my warm up! But I also didn’t just want to not train because of this. So was I just going to hit the pause button and wait until my evenings were free again?
No, I had to adopt the “always something” approach instead.
The Problem with the ‘Pause Button’ Mentality
It’s normal for all of us to want to do our best.
“If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right” is something I get a lot of recently. That’s why New Years Resolutions are so popular – because starting fresh after hit the pause button and you lose your way of eating and drinking too much over the holidays is a comforting thought.
But here’s the problem – this mentality only builds the skill of pausing! Waiting until Monday or next month gives you some temporary relief and peace of mind that “starting fresh” later will be the “perfect time” but for now, we don’t need to worry about it because we have other priorities.
Why are 7 Day Detox Diets or 21 Day Challenges so popular?
They teach you the skill of “going all-in” for a very short period of time where you’ll likely feel somewhat better or lose some weight because of the all-out effort you put in.
But what happens after the 7 or 21 days? We slowly resort back to our old habits, hit the pause button again, rebound and the “yo-yo” dieting cycle begins again.
These 7 or 21 day challenges teach you how to get fit when everything is perfect! But what about when things aren’t perfect? When you have to meet a hard deadline at work? When you’re preparing for a job interview to get a promotion? When you have college exams coming up? When you go on vacation for 2 weeks?
These are all real-life scenarios which short term programs don’t teach you how to perform under. That’s why it’s important for us to acknowledge that there’s no timeout – life goes on and there’s always the next thing we have to be doing.
We’ve all worked in jobs where there were some days (hopefully not everyday!) where we really wanted to hit the pause button and not show up for that day – or maybe even that week! But we got up and showed up anyways. Just like you don’t take a break from your work when you don’t feel like it, why should we feel its ok to do it with our fitness?
It all starts with us giving ourselves permission and accepting that we’re not always going to be on our A Game. But instead of hitting the pause button, why not as Dr John Berardi would say “adjust the dial” slightly?
If you’re currently at a say 7/10 where you train about 4x weeks for an hour and prepare your food in advance but then get the news that you’ve to work away from home for 1 week, stay in a hotel with no gym and you have no access to cooking equipment.
Instead of pressing pause for a week just adjust the dial! Maybe you go from a 7/10 to a 4/10. Your 4x 1-hour workouts are replaced with 3x 30-minute bodyweight workouts next to your hotel bed. Your prepared chicken fillet stir-fry with boiled rice is now replaced with you making the best possible decision based on the hotel menu and asking for an extra serving of vegetables.
It this scenario perfect? No! But that’s the point! Life is rarely ever going to be perfect. But understand that its better than nothing & its certainly better than hitting the pause button.
"Perfection is the Enemy of Progress"
Below are 3 ways you can get out of the pause button mentality.
1.Adjust the Dial:
Where’s your training and nutrition dial currently at?
For example if you’re at a 7/10 right now, what would a 10/10 look like? And what would a 1/10 look like?
Are you capable of ramping the dial up? And how might you move the dial down during difficult times?
No matter what situation you’re in, always aim for a little bit better rather than hitting the pause button.
2.Plan and Prioritise:
I like to send out a “Sunday Sermon” to my clients each week where I ask them to analyse last weeks training and nutrition, take any lessons from them and then schedule in their workouts for the upcoming week and meal prep if necessary.
However, I also ask them to anticipate obstacles and decide in advance what they’re going to do if they run into these obstacles e.g. getting called into work unexpectedly. This helps prepare them for the week ahead and gives them reassurance that if Plan A doesn’t work, there’s always a Plan B.
3.If You Press the Pause Button, Reset:
If all else failed and you unexpectedly hit the pause button despite your best efforts, then it’s time to reset. You binged out on Saturday evening? Fair enough. Don’t let it roll into Sunday. You missed two workouts last week? Try start next week off with one and you’ll automatically feel better. If it does happen, there’s no point beating yourself up about it. You can’t change the past but you can change what you do going forward.
Pressing the pause button is allowing ourselves to live in a fantasy world where the perfect time exists! Saying you’ll restart is buying into the belief that somehow, next will be easier with no interruptions or distractions.
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect time. Life will get in the way. Accept that you can’t always be “all or nothing” and instead aim for “always something.”
Thank you for reading.
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