Q&A How to Be Okay With Less Than Perfect Progress | TMOHP Episode 125

Julie knows her sticking point. She wants to stop overeating and she has an idea where to start, but she wants help with staying the course.  “I would like to know how to feel okay with "some" progress made each day without giving up. I tend to see the big picture, get discouraged and tend to give up.” Diet culture teaches us to expect an unrealistic model of perfect, or all or nothing progress (complete with dramatic before and after pictures). How do you stay motivated with some progress, or with inconsistent progress, or when you have a few bad days?

In this episode I’m answering Julie’s question about how to be okay - and even motivated - by less than perfect progress. Spoiler alert: less than perfect (and sometimes gradual) progress is the only kind you’ll see if you’re making lasting changes to break overeating and emotional habits. So how do you stay motivated and feel satisfied? Tune in to this week’s episode.

In this episode:

  • Why making “some” progress can feel discouraging
  • The progress we miss or disregard and how to capture it
  • Capturing wins
  • What to focus on to feel more satisfied and motivated to keep going

Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz and find out how to start tackling the root of your overeating.
  • Your Missing Peace  is the program for women ready to stop overeating and emotional eating for good. Enrollment is open and NOW is the perfect time to join us! Go here to learn more
  • Private Coaching for Emotional Eating and Overeating: I have openings in my schedule to work with about twelve women a year and openings are filled as space becomes available. Private coaching meetings are scheduled via Zoom or phone and we can connect from anywhere in the world. Private coaching is customized to you and your goals and we'll work together for a minimum of six months. Learn more and apply here.
  • Visit http://toomuchonherplate.com for more tips and resources to create peace with food and overcome overeating and emotional eating

Episode Transcript

Hey, everybody welcome back to the podcast. Today I have another Q and A episode for you all about how to be okay with less than perfect progress. Today's question is from Julie. And Julie says, okay, I can learn what to do. I can learn how to start, but I would like to know how to feel okay with "some" progress. She's got that in quotes, some progress made each day without giving up. I see the big picture. I get discouraged. And then I tend to give up. 

This is a great question. And it's a really important one to address because diet culture teaches us an unrealistic model of perfect. Diet culture teaches us an unrealistic model of all or nothing. And that progress is all or nothing. It is good days. It is bad days. You either nailed it or you failed. You passed your way in or you didn't do well this week. 

And yet the reality is some progress, ongoing progress, continued progress, just like Julie asked about. And some progress can be really hard to hold on to.

I mean, how many times have you started a plan and worked really hard to stick with it for a day or a week, or maybe even longer. And then one day after ticking all the boxes that your plan requires from the time you got up, you hit some kind of a road bump. You're too tired or you get home and the spinach that you needed for your planned recipe has gone bad. Or you had a horrible day at work and somehow you came home and ate all the brownies that were sitting on the counter before you even realized it.

And here's what happens to so many people, and I bet it happens to you. After that moment, it feels ruined. You've blown it. All your progress has been erased. And then your thoughts start. Maybe you tell yourself that this is never going to work. You always blow it. 

And then more eating usually happens at this point, because why not finish the rest of the brownies? Why not dive into the potato chips that you have been so good about avoiding all week? So careful, so disciplined. Right? Because in the diet world of all or nothing, it doesn't matter. It's all or nothing. And today was a big nothing. And you're going to have to start over again anyway. So you might as well just keep going. Does this sound familiar?

Here's another example that I hear quite often of "some" progress that can be hard to feel okay about. So maybe you have a weight goal, and maybe it seems so big and so far away and so impossible. And because of that your current reality of having lost two pounds feels like nothing. Feels like a meaningless drop in the bucket. 

How are you supposed to feel satisfied when your brain is saying this has hardly brought you closer to your goal? Sometimes "some" progress is a mixed unsatisfying bag of stuff. Meaning maybe you had a great week. You were checking all the boxes you set for yourself. You ate the way that you wanted to, meaning you followed whatever the plan was that you had decided you would follow.

You made it back to the gym and you got some workouts in. And you said no to your nightly glasses of wine and you slept so much better. And you know that these are all good habits, but you step on the scale and it hasn't budged. Or it's up a pound. Or maybe you don't step on the scale, but your pants aren't any looser.

"Some" progress. Maybe, yes, definitely. And how do you feel satisfied? Julie's question is such an important one because the dilemma is real. It is so easy for me to talk about perfectionism and how perfectionism will sabotage you. And it's easy to nod your head and see it when it's described, but walking the talk doesn't often feel easy.

So, thanks, Julie, for your question, because it's a great one. There are some things that can help, and what I want to do is talk about them in this episode. Let's talk about how to feel okay with "some" progress every day without giving up and how not to get discouraged by the big picture. 

The very first thing that if you work with me, you will hear over and over and over again, because it is so important, is to track your wins. Track your progress. Every teeny, tiny, little step. What is a win? You know, I tell participants in Your Missing Peace, sometimes a win is you showed up to the coaching meeting today. Sometimes a win is you didn't show up to the coaching call today, but you watched the replay or you spent 20 minutes doing the training.

Sometimes the win is you acknowledge that you've been having a hard time and it's time to reset. Sometimes a win is I've been and following that new hydration plan, I've been drinking more water. Or I noticed I was sad and I sat with my feelings. Or I've been experimenting with journaling. All wins are not measured on the scale. And in fact, I would challenge you to think about not using the scale at all to track your wins. 

You are far better off setting a goal of tracking five things that you feel good about every day. Five things that you accomplished, five wins. And if you can't find them, think smaller. For some of you, many of you listening to this podcast episode, maybe a win, it's something different. It's something you took time for. It's something you invested your energy or your beliefs in. 

Track your wins. Wins are how we see that we are getting somewhere. Wins are how we see the progress. And if it's not all progress, a huge before and after picture, like diet mentality tells you that you can somehow get if you do it just right. Then it is really important to create a trail of your wins.

Because when you can see that something is working, when you can see that you are getting somewhere, it is much easier to keep going. So, the first thing you can do is track your wins. The second thing you can do is really ask yourself, what is the feeling or the energy or the experience that you ultimately want? And spoiler alert, this is not a number that you're going to see on your clothes or on the scale. 

If what you are aiming for is a number, you are aiming for that number because you are telling yourself that achieving that number is going to create something for you, an experience or an energy or a feeling or a change. So what is that feeling or the energy or the experience that you ultimately want? 

What I hear from a lot of women is, I want to feel comfortable with myself. Great. What a wonderful goal. I want to feel more comfortable with myself. And that is not necessarily connected to this all perfect progress goal that you have.

Maybe some progress will help you feel more comfortable with yourself and spoiler alert it’s probably not going to be the progress that is measured by a number. So many women join Your Missing Peace with a goal of feeling more comfortable with themselves or inside their body. Or having less stress or sleeping better. Right? I want to feel more comfortable with myself.

And the story they tell themselves is I have to do this all or nothing thing. I have to achieve this number before I feel comfortable with myself. And it's so interesting. I had a conversation with a member of the program just yesterday where she said. It's so interesting, I feel lighter. I have more energy. I feel so much more comfortable with myself and my weight hasn't changed in the last week. It isn't my weight. It turns out I can feel more comfortable with myself I can be moving towards that goal and I can be changing my eating and The number on the scale doesn't have to change this week for me to be making "some" progress.

But not just "some" progress. Progress that feels really good so what's the feeling or the energy or the experience that you ultimately want? I hear from other women that they would really love to stop the constant focus on food and eating. They want to free up more space to think about other things. 

So as you move forward, pay attention to that. Notice how that is changing. Part of, part of how we create, satisfaction and happiness about some progress every day is we pay attention to as much of the different kinds of progress as we can capture. Right?

Maybe you want to feel stronger. Maybe you want to move more easily. Maybe you want to like your body or feel relaxed and confident around food. Ask yourself how these things are changing. Create experiments for yourself. This is something we do inside Your Missing Peace all the time. 

How can I get a little bit more of that? How can I grow in these ways? How can I take the power away from food? How can I stop telling myself that food is what gives me all these things or steals all these things from me? How can I just take them back and start to feel the way I want to feel and get what I need? And then you know what? I don't have to use food to fill in the missing pieces. I don't have to use food. I don't have to use food to fill in the gaps. Right? 

What is the feeling or the energy or the experience that you ultimately want? And how can you work on creating progress in that area? Imperfect progress. "Some" progress. When I work with a client Whether you join Your Missing Peace or whether I'm working with you individually, part of what we're going to be doing is stepping outside the old framework of deprivation that hasn't worked for you.

And you're going to start approaching changing your overeating differently with new habits, with new things that you're focusing on. Practicing new thoughts and new beliefs and challenging old ones. And so part of the way to feel content and happy and even joyful about "some" progress is to find more things to measure, like I just talked about, right?

Pay attention to a broader scope of wins and give yourself credit for these. And then also you want to find more ways to measure these things. 

All results are not seen on the scale. Most results are not seen on the scale. Actually, if you are looking for changes on the scale, and not everybody is. If you are looking for changes on the scale, so often they show up after you change the things that really matter. 

This is because there is a reason that you eat. There is always a reason that you eat. And if you are not eating because you need fuel. And if it feels like it, the proportion of time that you are emotionally eating or eating for comfort is out of balance and it's not serving you. If you're overeating, if you are binging, there is a reason for it. 

And the way that you cure your habit, the way that you take your power back and you lose the cravings and you lose the urge to binge and you create a relationship with food that you love is you take care of the reasons. 

Diet mentality has taught you to use numbers, to use the scale to measure progress. You are always only going to see "some" progress if that is only your measurement, and sometimes you will see no progress. But can you see that if what you are doing is taking a real freedom approach, the approach that I teach, if you are looking to take your overeating habit and deal with it from the roots so it does not keep growing back, then you are going to be making changes.

You're going to be creating wins. You are going to be creating new feelings and experiences that are not directly linked to the number on the scale. But are going to lead to changes in the number on the scale if that's what you want. 

You are going to be more content with the progress. You're going to feel more progress.

You're going to know more about the progress that you are making when you find more ways to measure things. And this is a place where you can come up blank at first when you try to think about how to do this. What are some things I could measure? 

Well, you could measure consistency with a new habit. You could measure strength. Am I getting stronger? Go back to that why, go back to the feeling or the energy or the experience that you want. You might measure, this is a really valuable one, your ability to restart when you get off track. Because guess what? Life is a process of being on track and being off track and wandering off the path and getting back on the path over and over and over again.

Life is not a straight line. And the idea that you're eating is going to be a perfect straight line is untrue. And it's a recipe to feel like you're always having to start over because you fell off the line. Right? What if you got better at restarting? What if you started measuring the length of time it took between when your brain tells you, you blew it and you start eating all the things because it's all ruined anyway?

And that time when you take a deep breath and realize, okay, I can just keep going. I don't have to start over. What if you are measuring your ability to make that episode of blowing it smaller? You can do that. You can measure how you feel, track how you feel physically and emotionally, and how that's changing. That is a way to see progress. 

You can start measuring your success in getting your needs met, asking for things, saying no. Creating time for yourself and your schedule. You might want to measure what you are learning. What is the new belief you are practicing, how you dealt with a belief that came up, pay attention to these things and then declare the wins.

This is how you see the progress. This is how you create satisfaction because you give yourself things to realize are satisfying. Maybe you're going to measure the quality of your sleep and how you're sleeping. Maybe you're working at getting to bed earlier instead of staying up late and eating all the things because you're really tired, but what you want is a treat. So measure that. So that you can see the progress so that you can see the wins. 

Here's the final piece that I want to address around Julie's question about how to feel okay with "some" progress every day or maybe "some" progress most days without giving up and how to not get discouraged by the big picture.

This one is entirely outside the realm of diet mentality. I want you to aim for 80%. Not a hundred percent. Nobody ever gets 100 percent forever. So aim for 80 percent and Count increased consistency as a win. Because it totally is. Consistency is how you build new habits. Consistency is how you retrain your brain.

Consistency is how you create change. And consistency is how you do it in a way that starts to just feel like you. That becomes automatic. That is something that you just do. Nobody gets 100%. And so if the aim is to do it 100 percent of the time. To never fail. It gets really hard to see what you're doing as a win. Because your brain is always going to home in on that 20 percent where you didn't get it right or where the day went sideways.

Aim for 80%. Count 80 percent as a win. Be happy when you see 80 percent in the things that you are trying to do. And be happy when you notice that you are becoming more and more consistent over time. That is one of the biggest wins that you can achieve. When you are working to create peace with food and freedom from overeating.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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