January 31st, 2024
In the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, it’s easy to fall into the trap of striving for perfection. Our Instagram and Pinterest feeds are flooded with seemingly flawless fitness models portraying an “ideal lifestyle” of fasted cardio, daily green juice, zero added sugar, and washboard abs.
The image of these flawless workout and meal plans, perfectly executed with impeccable form, discipline, and maximum intensity, often dominates fitness aspirations. However, this supreme lifestyle is an unsustainable, often unachievable, and potentially harmful myth.
Why consistency is key
First of all, it’s important to remember that the images of fitness portrayed online, in the media, and in movies are not real in the way they may seem. Majority of the time, you see a snapshot of one person’s “peak” after a short and intense strategy to produce the displayed results. Lighting, angles, and clothing also play huge roles in one’s appearance. A photo or a video is just a snapshot, not a representation of reality.
Secondly, very high-intensity fitness routines – while initially appealing for their promise of rapid results – often prove to be unsustainable in the long run. Extreme and physically demanding regimens with minimal recovery can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, or worse: injury. Over time, the risk of burnout and overtraining significantly increases as the body struggles to cope with relentless intensity.
Sustainable fitness is about finding a balance that aligns with your physical capabilities, allowing for consistent participation without compromising overall well-being. Extremely high-intensity workouts may deliver short-term gains, but they lack the keys for long-term adherence. It’s not about pushing yourself to the brink of exhaustion with every workout, but rather establishing a routine that can be maintained over time. This approach builds a healthy relationship with physical activity, making it more likely that you’ll incorporate exercise into your daily life as a sustainable habit.
Remember: Exercise contributes to mental and emotional well-being. It should make you feel good! Forget comparison and prioritize sustainability to focus on what truly matters: longevity, happiness, and functional ability. If you’re not sure where to start, working with a trainer is ideal. Our team at Nielsen Fitness has a perfect in-home or online trainer for you and your fitness goals. If you’re short on time, “virtual training has become a must for many people” (Canadian Living, 2024) as it removes the challenge of a commute while occupying a smaller piece of your budget.
Life is unpredictable, and there will be times when unforeseen circumstances disrupt your exercise routine. Whether it’s a busy week at work, family obligations, or unexpected health issues, striving for perfection can be discouraging when faced with setbacks. Embracing consistency allows for flexibility and the ability to bounce back from challenges, making it easier to navigate the ups and downs of life without abandoning your fitness goals.
Progress is never perfectly linear. A workout may not always feel or look exactly how you’d like it to, but as Canadian Olympic decathlete Damian Warner believes, “there’s no such thing as a bad practice” (Canadian Running Magazine, 2023).
MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS
Exercise has profound effects on our mental health, and a consistent routine can be a powerful ally in managing stress, anxiety, and depression. Perfectionism may contribute to heightened stress levels and a negative mindset. The constant pressure to meet unattainable standards can fuel anxiety, depression, and body image issues, as aiming to achieve perfection can lead to extreme behaviors such as restrictive diets or overtraining. Embracing a more realistic and compassionate approach to fitness, one that celebrates your individual progress and overall health, is essential for cultivating a positive and sustainable relationship with exercise.
No matter what your workout plan or goals may be, you need to listen to your body first. Striving for perfection in every workout can be dangerous, as you may be tempted to ignore your body’s signals and push past your limits. A smart exercise plan coupled with a safety-first approach is the basis for consistency and long-term results. Prioritizing regular exercise – whether in-home, at the gym, or with a virtual personal trainer– with proper form and gradually increasing intensity will reduce your likelihood of burnout and minimize your risk of injury.
Perfection is impossible – full stop – and especially when it comes to your health and fitness. Embracing exercise consistency over perfection allows for sustainable progress while contributing to the development of lasting habits and positive mental health. Commitment to regular physical activity will ultimately lead to a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle, so focus on the journey and let the rest go.
If you could use some help with that, we’re here for you. First workouts are zero pressure and always free. Request yours here.