insight

Emma Louise O'Neill | You Don't Have To Be Perfect

You don’t have to be perfect.  

People tend to go wrong with the term ‘fitness’ and attempting to achieve their body goals. It’s the ‘all or nothing’ mentality. Go hard, or go home. 

One of the biggest misconceptions I witness, is the idea that to achieve abs, grow muscle, or lose fat, one must be 90-100% perfect with their diet and training.

Whilst they do require time, a certain level of dedication, and (sometimes) sacrifice, they do not require perfection. In order to excel, you do not have to miss out on the best bits in life, I promise.

Although, it is understandable that people think this way.

Many ‘fitness’ social medias are overflowing with bikini athletes, bodybuilding dieters and jaw dropping ‘fitspos’, whose lives appear full on and devoted; you only have to scroll through Instagram for a few minutes to see what I mean. Although there has been a huge rise in bloggers and athletes sharing the ‘not-so-pretty-and-perfect’ side of their lives- social media can still be deceiving- which is why it can be easy to fall into the ‘I need to be perfect, just like them’ mentality.

I know exactly how it feels

I was once misinformed and followed a restrictive lifestyle in the hope I would achieve my ‘goal body’. I would skip meals out with friends, drink a bottle of water instead of enjoying an ice-cream. 

Achieving abs soon led to skipping family occasions, missing birthday parties, eating food I didn’t like, and forcing myself to engage (reluctantly) in exercise I didn’t enjoy. Sound familiar?

It saddens me to think about the times I scolded myself for not being ‘perfect’. I didn't know at the time how damaging having this mentality was; not only for my mindset, but also for my progress. 

Being miserable whilst chasing your goals is completely unnecessary. Having ambitions is great, but side-lining your actual life is not. Undertaking an ‘all or nothing’ approach is a dangerous game, and can easily lead to you resenting the journey. Forcing yourself to be committed 100% of the time may eventually burn you out, and leave you throwing in the towel. 

The truth is, being fit and healthy should enhance your life, rather than take away from it.

If you begin to find that you are being too hard on yourself, or struggling to maintain a balanced lifestyle, it may be time to embrace a more relaxed approach. 

"Do not punish yourself for enjoying the more indulgent things in life." Emma Louise O'Neill

Here is a little advice

Take time to find what works for you.

You see, the amazing thing about health and fitness, is how wonderfully diverse it is. 

There are a multitude of ways to train, eat, and keep fit.

You can try cross fit, weight lifting, HIIT circuits, high carb diets, low carb diets, intermittent fasting, the list is endless! Invest the time in to finding a route that suits you, making your goals achievable, enjoyable and sustainable. 

When I discovered this, I fell in love with my fitness journey. 

By practicing balance and moderation, I have been able to grow muscle, gain strength and lose fat. 

I have transitioned from being small and weak, to stronger and healthier. 

"The truth is, being fit and healthy should enhance your life, rather than take away from it." Emma Louise O'Neill

Finding a way to incorporate healthy habits, and realising I didn’t need to be all or nothing, was the key to my success.

Drinking with friends every now and then won’t hinder my progress, or reverse my hard work. 

If you’re training for fun, or to look and feel a little better, there is no need to strive for perfection. 

Do not punish yourself for enjoying the more indulgent things in life.

You do not have to miss out on social gatherings, or drag your exhausted body out of bed before the sun rises. You can say yes to the donut! 

Adhering to the 70-30 (or sometimes the 60-40) rule works for most people. This is pretty much eating well, exercising 60-70% of the time, but also allowing yourself a fair bit of room for fun, (like the family size bag of popcorn and lazy day in bed watching Netflix.)

So, remember

Be consistent, work hard to achieve your goals, but also know that perfection is not necessary.  

Make ‘fitness’ work around your life, rather than making your life work around fitness, but know that sometimes it is totally cool to choose pizza over the gym. Enjoy your pizza.

Em

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