I have to say – I’m ridiculously sick of the pressure for perfection that is out there, especially when it comes to diet. I’m also sick of labels and people being so caught up in adhering to guidelines that may not work for them. That’s not to say that something like strict paleo doesn’t work – it definitely does work for some people, I’m just not one of those people. I’ve done strict paleo for 30 days and while I felt better in a lot of ways, there were also a lot of issues with my athletic performance. For the work I was doing and what I was trying to achieve, it didn’t work. It would probably work to help me “lean out” or take a few pounds of bloat off but that’s about it. It definitely has its place and time but that’s not ALL THE TIME.
I think that there is a lot of “health washing” going on in the blog world and social media and I don’t necessarily think it’s done with bad intent. On a public platform, people are always going to put their best selves forward because it’s easier, it’s comfortable, and it’s how we would like others to see us. While that’s all fine and good, I think that it causes an unrealistic pressure to be perfect – have the perfect diet, always have perfect workouts, have a perfect body, have a perfect mindset, etc.
And that’s bullshit.
My diet & workouts are far from perfect. Here’s two days of what I ate & one of my workouts in detail:
Thursday (rest day)
7:00AM: Coffee with coconut oil, grass fed butter, & cinnamon
9:00AM: Protein powder (Custom mix from True Nutrition of 50% beef isolate, 25% grass fed whey, 25% native milk isolate – 28g protein)+ water
11:00AM: 1/3lb ground pork, 2 hard boiled eggs, roasted broccoli
2:00PM: Chipotle! Veggies with 1/3-1/2lb carnitas & guacamole
4:30PM: Orange with coconut flakes + 2 handfuls of gluten-free pretzels (someone get these things out of my house!)
7PM: 1/2lb grass-fed beef burgers with fried egg & mushrooms (all cooked in bacon fat) over spinach
9PM: Handful of chocolate chips, coconut flakes, and more gluten-free pretzels (seriously, take them aawwwwaaay!)
WORKOUT: 7:10AM – 9:10AM
Warm up/stretching/foam rolling
Warm up: 5 hang cleans with empty bar, 4x63, 2x 73
Work sets: 6x4 @ 60% (73#), 90s rest in between sets
Warm up: 5 squats with empty bar, 5x90, 2x135, 1x160, 1x170
Work sets: 1x180 (epically failed forward/over my head on my second rep thanks to my shoulders not being set & my elbows being too high)
5x180 (2 reps were a bit shallow so I say its 180x3/5)
Warm up: 5x45, 2x75, 1x85
Work Sets: 1x90; 1x90 (I was going for 5 reps, and I’ve done 3x90 a few weeks ago but was just tired at this point)
Bulgarian Split Squats: 3x8 (both legs) at 80% 8rep max: used lightest band (10-15#lbs) to scale
Dips: 3x8 at 80% 8 rep max: -75 in band assistance
Saturday (workout day)
7:00AM: coffee with coconut oil
7:30AM: handful of almonds
8:20-10:00AM: Workout (snatch, clean, jerk)
10:30AM: Breakfast with a friend - coffee with half & half, omelette with tomatoes, green peppers, 3 strips of bacon, side order of sautéed apples
1:00PM: grass-fed burger, roasted green beans, mushrooms sautéed in bacon fat, ½ avocado, small handful of cheddar cheese
3:00PM: half iced coffee with coconut milk, handful of almonds & chocolate chips (these also need to disappear)
5:00PM: 4 ounces or so of shrimp & a small sweet potato
7:30PM: out for drinks then dinner and there were cocktails, puffed rice shrimp crackers & gluten-free fried pimento cheese croquettes, then chips, guac, steak, and tortilla for dinner.
Clearly, I’m not “perfectly” paleo and I don’t eat perfect every day. I had some grains, sugar, and dairy. I probably drink more coffee than I should. Do I need to clean up my diet? Sure - I’m getting a little sugar-fiendy (just made that word up) and I do need to lay off the grains because my gut is starting to feel them. I don’t expect myself to be perfect or “strict” – I just want my body to function a bit better. My workout wasn’t perfect either – it rarely is. Do I feel pressured to be “perfect” or more strict? Of course. But that doesn’t work for me.
I don’t want to spend my mental energy thinking about being “perfectly paleo” or whatever because frankly, I just don’t care that much. I care about feeling good, performing well, and eating in a way that doesn't make me want to lose my mind.
I think “paleo” is great – it works for many people but isn’t for everyone. I think the label is kind of dumb but labels are necessary sometimes. For me, if someone asks if something I make or if I adhere to the “paleo diet”, I’m going to say "mostly yes" because it’s easier than saying, “I avoid gluten because it wrecks me for weeks, makes my bones brittle, and gives me daily migraines. I avoid grains and legumes because they can cause havoc on my gut. I avoid soy because it makes me look like I’m eight months pregnant and gives me a stomachache. I avoid dairy and sugar to some extent because they make my face breakout like crazy.".
No one is perfect.
We all know this yet beat ourselves up for not being as perfect as the next person. We tell ourselves that perfection is achievable and furthermore, that it’s sustainable. We kick ourselves when we veer off course or have a bad day because obviously, if all these other people can do it, then why can’t I? I’m just weak, not driven, insert other self-bashing here.
Even if perfection was sustainable (it’s not), would you want it? I mean would you really want to have a perfect workout or perfect diet all the time? I wouldn’t. It would literally drive me crazy – that much restriction all the time is a recipe for willpower burnout. Having bad workouts make the PRs and good days so much better, plus that is how you learn. Plus, I want to be able to experience amazing meals and good wine when I want to and not feel guilty about it. Since when is it okay to feel bad about enjoying life? That's just ridiculous.
The perfection pressure, the self-bashing, the guilty thoughts, they've got to stop – because even perfection was sustainable, it’s not really worth it.