Consistency, Not Compensation
You can't outrun a poor diet, so start with a solid foundation of smart eating choices.
What's the difference?
Consistency is present-focused and forgiving.
It means focusing on your personal daily plan of small actions. And it also means knowing that you won't always meet the plan. In those times, focusing on consistency means being strong on forgiveness.
Focusing on consistency, you can get restarted as soon as possible. You can be back on-plan immediately, in this moment, without any moral regrets and compensation for whatever happened in the past. With a focus on consistency, you're always starting with a clean slate.
Compensation is backward-focused and regretful.
It means acting out of regret or dissatisfaction. Rather than operating from a clean slate, compensation is a way to "make-up for" or "undo" a past choice. The actions often show-up as hasty, frantic, or impulsive.
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
You can't out-train a poor diet.
One of the most obvious places to look for compensation is in how you exercise.
Why do you exercise?
In the long run, using exercise as a way to "burn calories", "absolve indulgences", or "make up for mistakes" is a plan that leads to defeat.
It will probably be fraught with chronic hunger and exhaustion. Those are two entirely unnecessary features of a sustainable lifestyle.
Compensation in exercise comes with deep emotional costs. An extremist mindset on exercise turns movement into a chore and eating into a sin. If that's not fun or enjoyable to you, there are other options.
Consistency is in successfully dialling down.
Focusing on consistency means looking for ways to just do something every day.
For instance, your practice might be:
Get at least some movement today, even if that's 5 minutes.
Eat at least one fruit or vegetable today.
Drink a big glass of water when I wake up.
Eat a little bit more slowly or mindfully.
Have a smaller portion of dessert or skip it every other day.
These actions might seem small and unambitious, but that's exactly why they get done.
Things that get done, over and over, add up.
They also become a seamless part of your routine, so they become easier and more automatic. Over time, these repeated practices become part of who you are, rather than a daily struggle against unbearable expectations. (Who set these expectations, anyway?)
Small actions, done consistently, lead to huge and lasting results.
Alternatively, if you're in the cycle of compensating or swinging wildly between all or nothing, you'll probably experience a lot more effort for even less payoff.
Consistency is in the process.
For whatever outcome you're after, the process is the everyday moments that you have to live through for it. If you're feeling pressured, exhausted, or agonized throughout the process, is the outcome that you're striving for worth that lifestyle?
Help yourself get things done, consistently.
Anticipate. Prepare. Strategize.
When you're done reading this, go look at your calendar.
What's coming up in the next while?
How can you help yourself stay on track?
What do you need to do today... and tomorrow... and the next few days... to help yourself make small but wise choices, consistently?