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How Embracing Imperfection Can Help You Get in the Best Shape of Your Life

Earlier this week, we shared some practical tips for cultivating a healthy lifestyle, and today I'm thrilled to introduce a friend and PowerSheets user, Robin Long, to each of you!

Robin lives and works in sunny Santa Barbara, CA. She obtained her comprehensive Pilates certification through Body Arts and Science International and her barre certification through Balanced Body. She is passionate about creating programs that empower, strengthen, restore, and rejuvenate her clients from the inside out. As a mom of two little ones, she knows what it’s like to have very little time for yourself. The Balanced Life was created to help women feel healthy, balanced and strong through at-home Pilates workouts, wellness resources, and a supportive community of like-minded women around the world.

I hope you're as encouraged by Robin's words as I am! Be sure to scroll to the bottom for an invitation to join a free 21-day Pilates Challenge!

View More: http://thebollmans.pass.us/thebalancedlifejan2017

Have you ever felt like you needed to go to the gym to work off the big, indulgent dinner you had the night before?

Or, have you ever rewarded yourself with extra sweet treats after a hard workout?

I certainly have. And to be honest, I was trapped in this cycle for a long time. The cycle looked something like this:

  • Over-indulge in a cheeseburger, fries, and beer at a restaurant (eating to the point of being way too full)
  • Feel guilty, over-stuffed, and bad about myself for not having more self-control
  • Exercise as a way to make up for the “damage” I’d done
  • Feel proud, accomplished and exhausted from said workout!
  • Reward myself with a large, sugar-filled latte with extra whipped cream (I earned it!)
  • Feel bad for having such a big treat
  • Exercise to make up for it
  • You can guess what comes next…

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was trapped in a terrible cycle.

Essentially, exercise had become a form of punishment and indulgent food had become a reward.

I was caught in a cycle that was so mainstream I didn’t even realize it was wrong.

There was a constant battle going on in my head about how I “should” exercise more or I “shouldn’t” have eaten certain foods.

There was no room for mistakes, no room for grace and no room for imperfection.

After years of feeling frustrated and discouraged, I decided enough was enough. Something had to change. I needed to break free. I realized that while there was certainly room for improvement in my diet and exercise routine, it was my MINDSET that needed to change.

My relationship with exercise needed a makeover, and my beliefs about what it meant to be a fit and healthy woman needed an overhaul.

So, I made changes.

And one of the most important things I learned, is the value of embracing imperfection and giving myself grace.

If you can relate to an unhealthy (or simply burdensome) relationship with exercise, I encourage you to explore what it might look like to allow more room for imperfection and grace.

While it might seem counter-intuitive, giving yourself permission to NOT be perfect, to go off-track and to fall behind can (and most likely will) lead to better results.

Because when you embrace imperfection, it’s easier to stay consistent for long periods of time. One bump in the road (skipped workout, extra piece of cake, etc.) will no longer throw you off track. You will look at your progress and see the ways the little by little is adding up instead of the areas where you aren't enough.

This one change has helped me get into the best shape of my life, but more importantly, my healthiest state of mind.

View More: http://thebollmans.pass.us/thebalancedlifejan2017

Here are 4 practical ways to embrace imperfection on your fitness journey:

Choose grace over guilt. This has become our unofficial motto in my online community. When you miss a workout, eat more than you need to, or forget to drink water–choose grace over guilt. Wallowing in guilt leads to shame and a cycle of negative self-talk. Sometimes we think that guilt will motivate us to change and while it might work in the short-term, it will NOT work for the long-term. Ditch the guilt, choose grace, and move forward.

Treat every day as a fresh start. Every morning is a fresh start. Don’t worry about what happened yesterday. Just wake up, drink a big glass of water and start another day with the intention to nourish and care for your body the best you possibly can.

Ditch the “all or nothing” mentality. Have you ever skipped a workout because you didn’t have time to complete the whole thing? Me too. Or perhaps you don’t really exercise because you don’t have time for hour-long classes + a daily commute to the gym? As a mom of 2 toddlers who runs a business from home, I get it. Letting go of the “all or nothing” mentality will help you stay consistent and get moving on a daily basis. My daily mantra? Something is always better than nothing.

Embrace short workouts. Everyone can find 10 minutes per day, right? If you don’t have time to spend hours in the gym or train for marathons, try short daily workouts. I teach women to do 10 minutes of Pilates per day and the results are incredible. Why? Because 10 minutes is realistic. And because it’s realistic you can actually stay consistent. And when you’re consistent, you see results.

View More: http://thebollmans.pass.us/thebalancedlifejan2017

Changing thought patterns and your relationship with exercise can take time. But one of the best things you can do is learn to embrace imperfection on your journey. Remember that fitness is a long-term pursuit that will ebb and flow. There will be ups, downs, trials and errors. Embracing imperfection will help you release guilt, accept grace and live in freedom.

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Thank you so much for sharing, Robin! Need some workout inspiration? Robin will be hosting a free fitness challenge–21 Days of Pilates! Just 10 minutes per day, no equipment necessary, all levels welcome. The challenge will officially begin on March 6th but registration is now open! Sign up today (I already have!) and get your free Prep Kit!

What is one way you’re going to embrace imperfection when it comes to your fitness routine? Will you be joining Robin's 21-Day Pilate Challenge? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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How to Get Fit

Out of all the posts I've written thus far for Cultivate What Matters, this is certainly the most unlikely one! Why? Because I am by no means the "most fit" person on our team or in my circle of friends. However, after celebrating our new Cultivate What Matters holiday, I hope that my little by little progress will offer you some encouragement to keep making little by little progress on your goals!

First, I should share a little bit of backstory with you. I've never been an athlete; I didn't play sports growing up, though I certainly enjoyed cheering my siblings and friends on at all their games and competitions. After being rejected from my middle school volleyball team (don't worry; I recovered!), I shifted my focus to various other extracurricular activities. When I moved to college, I spent a lot of time walking around campus, and I worked out at the gym occasionally, though it was never a big part of my routine.

Fast forward to 2015, and I unexpectedly broke my leg and went into surgery (let's just say I steer clear of trampolines now.) Since my surgery, I've found that my motivations for taking care of my body have shifted from losing weight or getting into shape to being a good steward of my body. All of that to say, while I'm by no means a fitness expert, I've learned a few things over the past two years that have helped me on this journey. One of my 2017 goals is to care for my body well, and I wanted to share what's been working for me! If one of your 2017 goals is to cultivate a healthy lifestyle, I hope this post encourages you to begin doing that, right where you are!
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Photo by Marie L.

Figure out your why. Take a few moments to ask yourself these questions: Why do I want to spend time on this goal? Will this goal get me closer to where I want to be when I'm 80? You'll feel much more motivated to stick to your goals when they are connected to a purpose. For me, spending time on this goal makes me a better daughter, coworker, friend, and girlfriend because I'm taking care of myself and staying energized!

Find something you will enjoy. I've never been a runner, and while there are many days I wish I were, I've found that I'm much more likely to exercise when it's something I enjoy doing. For me, that's attending my local Pure Barre (shoutout to the most amazing Pure Barre staff in Durham!). If you're not familiar with Pure Barre, it's a high-intensity low-impact workout that focuses on isometric movements using a ballet barre. This was extremely helpful for me early on in my surgery recovery since there was no impact for my healing leg! If I had been forced into another form of exercise I didn't enjoy, it would have been much easier for me to skip my workouts.

Make it a priority. Treat your workouts like a business meeting or dinner with a friend, and schedule them! You wouldn't skip a work meeting or dinner with your best friend, so don't skip your workouts! When I sit down on Sundays to plan my meals for the week, I also look at my schedule and try to sign up for Pure Barre classes that fit into my plans. When it's written into your calendar my calendar, I've found that it's much easier to keep me accountable.

Find accountability. Similar to scheduling your workouts, it's important to hold yourself accountable to making them happen. Luckily for me, Pure Barre has built-in accountability with a penalty for missing classes. This means that if I've signed up for a class and don't want to go, I'm still obligated to go so I don't have to pay a fee. Let me say, I've gone into many classes wishing I could just go home and sit on my couch, but I have never left one of those class thinking, "I wish I hadn't done that!" If your exercise routine doesn't have built-in accountability, find a friend to cheer you on in this goal. Whether you find someone to meet you at the gym at the same time or ask your roommate or significant other to hold you accountable, find ways to incorporate accountability into your fitness goals for the year!

Think outside of the box! Cultivating a healthy lifestyle is more than just exercising and eating right! Seemingly small but intentional decisions add up over time. Take the stairs when possible. Schedule walks with your friends instead of drinks or dinner. Park farther away from store entrances to get extra steps in. Take a few laps around Target the next time you're there to pick up items on your shopping–just don't let it add unnecessary items to your cart (guilty!) Lara's recent blog has great ideas for those that are looking for ways to incorporate fitness into your everyday life!

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One of my favorite photos of thinking outside the box for getting fit by Lara :)

Celebrate your progress. Like any goal you set in your PowerSheets, we recommend finding ways to celebrate the little by little progress you've made! Don't approach your fitness with an all-or-nothing mentality; choosing to celebrate your victories along the way will help you feel even more encouraged to keep up your hard work!

I'm excited that our friend and fellow PowerSheets user Robin Long of The Balanced Life will be sharing with us this Thursday about how embracing imperfection can help you get in the best shape of your life and offering a free Pilates challenge coming this March! If you're looking for a way to start making progress on your fitness goals, Robin's free challenge will be the perfect place to start!

What are some ways you have incorporated more activity into your lifestyle? I'd love to hear any suggestions you have in the comments!

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