Are you willing to be perfectly imperfect?
How many times have you wanted to do some conscious movement and realised you only have 20 minutes so don’t bother getting going.
Or maybe you stop yourself because you’re not wearing the right clothes?
Or you’ve eaten a balanced meal for lunch and then had something you might deem “unhealthy” afterwards and given up on any further good food choices?
I’ve definitely been guilty of living in my workout clothes for the day without doing any actual exercise because I haven’t found the time - although what I really mean is that I didn’t prioritise it amongst everything else in my day. The biggest problem I find with that is the way I berate myself for being a “slacker” and my internal insistence that I have to do something tomorrow “or else” - which isn’t the way I want to go about motivating myself for nourishing movement.
But what if we spend weeks or even months living in leggings but not doing anything that requires them. What if we spend our days waiting for the perfect moment, which never comes, what would be the long term health fallout from that? Our willingness to be open to the ability to be less than perfect or experience life in a less than perfect way helps us to be able to do what matters most to us without being constrained by perfection constantly waiting for the perfect time.
We have been taught so often that we exercise by the hour, on the hour, or that we must eat well all the time so 1 bag of crisps is therefore “naughty”. We aim to achieve so high that we’ve lost our tolerance for allowing ourselves to be a bit average at what we manage.
How might it feel to do half as good a job at something you need or want to do?
Or even only do 10% of a task and not the rest?
For many of us that might feel really uncomfortable and that can be hard to manage, it can lead to overwhelm and burn out by trying to fit in too much and push yourself too hard, or alternatively it could lead to apathy and procrastination by having to wait until you’ve found the “perfect” time or perfect way to do everything.
So often before coming to see me, my clients go too hard on the intensity of a new habit like working out or rehab exercises in a way that doesn’t match their energy or their objectives. And most of the time the result is that they stop that new habit pretty quickly because they can’t keep up the intensity of it.
Instead you can ask a few questions to help focus your mindset around conscious movement:
Why are you choosing to move? (Bigger picture)
What are you aiming for? (Long term)
What version of you are you choosing to be by doing that? (Overall view)
As I mainly coach women in the postnatal to perimenopause phase of life, in general their objectives are to be more comfortable in their body and capable in their life. To be able to move with their family when they want to and to feel that they can say yes to anything in life. Those objectives don’t have training phases or specific patterns to commit to, they have life long, wellbeing and healthfulness as priorities and values. And that requires gentle consistency without the perfect outfit, or setting aside the perfect hour in each day.
How about doing 10 press ups in your normal clothes while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil in the morning?
Or standing up and doing a load of squats at your desk between zoom meetings?
Or even taking each meal and snack as it comes, not dependent on the last for consideration of how to plan it.
How open to that might you be and how might that change the way you approach each and every day and decision you make?
If it gives you sense of relief, then letting go of perfect might be exactly right for you.
Creating habits that build consistency and not intensity are key to making them long term ones that you stick to. Rolling out your mat and standing on it for a few breaths every day gives you the connection to being the person who regularly moves. Whereas the person who leaves the mat gathering dust in a corner because she can’t find the right time, is constantly casting her votes for the person who never gets round to it (and you can just hear the internal commentary from that can’t you?)
If it makes you feel a bit anxious to do a less than perfect version of movement, then you might need to start small, maybe with something you don’t care about quite so much. Try turning down the dial to 90% of perfect and then stretch to 80% and take it in small increments until you feel fully flexible and able to adapt depending on the situation.
Don’t let waiting for the “perfect” moment become a barrier to you doing something at all.
Self-sabotage shows up in many forms but this could be one of the ways most women get in their own way so they can’t follow what truly matters to them.
Sometimes you just gotta feel the fear and do it anyway, right?
Click to download Kathryn Meadows' "How to Hack Your Pelvic Health" guide.