Saturday, October 22, 2016

Why You Can Stop Looking for the Perfect Diet, Parenting Book, or Fitness Plan

vintage tile

When my kids were young and I was a homeschooling mom I would spend hours researching different curricula looking for the perfect one. I'd scour catalogs and attend curriculum fairs knowing that the perfect choice for us was out there I just had to find it. And a little bit terrified that I would miss it and ruin my children forever.

I did the same thing with parenting books. From time to time I implemented techniques and ideas that I'd read about thinking that whatever the next piece of advice was would solve any struggles I was having with the kiddos. There is an entire industry built around the fact that a lot of us are secretly afraid we might raise serial murderers.

As the mother of adult children who turned out to be fantastic human beings, I can tell you that none of it worked. Or maybe it all did. Or maybe none of it mattered at all.

The answer to my parenting dilemmas and concerns wasn't in any of the books. It was in my caring enough to spend money on the books or checking them out from the library in the first place. The technique that ended up  working was showing up every day and being concerned enough to devote time to trying to find the best way, even if the best way didn't really exist.

It's good parents who read books on parenting.

When the kids went to high school I had a lot more time to focus on myself and noticed I needed to drop a few pounds and improve my overall fitness level. I read a bunch of books and blogs, I tried joining a gym, I tried a couple of different ways of eating (notice I did not use the word diet).

I ended up losing about 25 pounds as well as increasing strength and energy. My mood improved. My skin looked better. I started to feel so much better about myself.

Had I cracked some kind of code about how to eat and exercise?


Just like it had with parenting and teaching, the caring about the thing had made the biggest difference. There are just too many variables in body types, body chemistry, location, genetics, etc. for anyone to offer up the perfect diet for you and even if they did it would change over time as your body ages and has different needs.

Plus, the perfected diet and exercise probably wouldn't be sustainable for a lifetime.

The primary thing to foster in any area of life you are trying to improve is caring enough about it to show up every day.

Interest and showing up are the secret keys to improvement.

As long as you haven't given up or checked out, then you are on the path to success. So you sat down and watched a Lifetime movie and ate your way to the bottom of a bag of chips.

So what?

Tomorrow is another day, Scarlett. Get yourself up, dust yourself off and start again. But even better than that, stop writing off the entire day because you had a weak moment. The bag of chips and two hours of sitting could still be followed by some raw veggies, a glass of water,  and a walk around the neighborhood. That's much better than what some of us do which is throw up our hands about our failure and make a pan of brownies to wallow in.

Sustainability is in the showing up every day and doing the best you can that day. 

Can we all just please acknowledge that some days are harder than others?  

Isn't that how we parent? We don't say "Well I was inconsistent with discipline this morning, so I'll let the kids so whatever they want the rest of the day." Certain days present certain challenges  but we acknowledge that and press on. Let's care enough about ourselves to do the same.

If you are reading this blog, it probably means that you are on the right track.

Relax and congratulate yourself for being interested in and caring about your health.

Tommorrow we're tackling the scale!



  1. "Sustainability is in the showing up every day and doing the best you can that day. " Yup, I can do that everyday. Your posts have helped me look at what I do from a new lens. Could I still be doing this in 10 years?

    1. I'm so happy that you find it helpful! Our culture presses the heavy weight of perfection down on us at every turn. But to keep going we just have to embrace our imperfect efforts and keep moving forward. But I know you already know that! Boo perfectionism! :)


Let's put the social back in social media and continue the conversation on Facebook! Check out the Pen and Hive Page.