Ditching absolutism for better health

Ditching absolutism for better health

by Vanessa Ng 06 Jan 2020

You may have heard of the phrase, “Go big, or go home.” The saying is as popular as it is true. Yet in fitness, many have the impression that they need to be 100%, 100% of the time. Whether it’s to do with training, nutrition or simple lifestyle habits, they don’t feel like they’re doing it right unless they’re going full-bore. However, taking such a binary attitude towards an organic concept like fitness can reap very unhealthy results. Here is what you can do instead:


1. Start small

While tempting, try not to overwhelm yourself by changing everything at one shot. Habits are difficult to change overnight, and it may not be sustainable to go all out right from day one. For instance, eating healthily does not mean that you need to go dairy-free, organic, gluten-free and all right from the beginning. Even if you manage to do so successfully for a day, a week, or even a month, it may be too taxing on you to sustain it every day for the rest of your life. You need not aim to exercise every day. Give your body time to adjust and recover. Try exercising twice a week and see how it goes. Gradually take it up a notch and try high intensity exercises. Taking small frequent steps is what leads to bigger and longer lasting changes.


2. Be flexible

Don’t be angry at yourself for missing a goal. Be forgiving and do not be too hard on yourself. Reward your body with a well-deserved break. Give yourself room to make mistakes and try not to overthink it. Understand that to err is human, and every person must have made a mistake at some point in his/her life. Adapting to changes is also an essential ingredient of success. Yes – you’re committed, but there will be times when how you exercise that commitment will be put to the test. Can’t run due to a sprained ankle? Why not cycle instead?


3. Find a support group

Some of us feel that our achievements are only truly our own if it’s done without external assistance. However, having help can be instrumental to reaching greater heights. Conversely, flat-out refusing it can lead to stagnation. Having friends and family will not only keep you motivated, but also keep tabs on your progress or lack thereof, and spot trends that may not be apparent to you. The other benefit of having a strong and varied peer network is that you benefit from having different perspectives and experience levels to learn from. You don’t have to adopt them wholesale, but you can definitely pick up a thing or two to benefit your own practice.


The simplicity of dealing with absolutes is what makes it so appealing – it’s either a “yes” or a “no”. The thing is, life is never that straightforward. Dealing with curveballs and detours requires are par for the course when it comes to self-improvement and distilling that process into a mixture of good of bad can render that journey unappealing and even demotivating after a period of time. You will experience varying shades of success along the way, so try not to see it all in black and white!