Have we become too consumed in the pursuit of health?
Are we crossing the line between being fit and healthy, and becoming too fixated on achieving perfection?
What happens when you focus too much on perfection and not on progress?
I’ve been a personal trainer for over 20 years and have worked with every client you can imagine.
In the last few years, however, I’ve seen more of a movement with people obsessing over their health and fitness.
This has always existed — but it seems more ramped up now. I’m not sure if this is because of the social media age, and there’s too much to compare ourselves with, or we feel the pressure to have it all — no matter what the cost.
There is a fine line between being committed to health — and being too consumed with it.
When you put too much stress on yourself to get as healthy as possible, not miss a workout, and eat perfectly — this is heading in the wrong direction for true health and wellness.
When Does the Pursuit of Health Go too Far?
Dedication is important, but you don’t want it to come at a cost.
I’ve seen too many people obsess over trying to get in enough steps each day or question every food choice they make.
These seemingly minor issues can feel like they’ve halted or destroyed any health and fitness progress.
The important thing to remember is achieving perfect health is not possible. The sooner this can be understood, the better.
Trust me, I struggle with this myself, too. I’ve gone through periods where I felt every workout had to be the ultimate exertion.
I’ve been mad at myself for not getting in enough servings of greens each day. We’ve all been there, but it’s not doing you any favors.
Health perfection is simply unattainable.
I won’t achieve it; you won’t achieve it; even elite Olympic athletes won't. (granted they come close, but they are still always working on it.)
The truth is, we will never be happy at the level we’ve reached.
Once you get to a certain level, there must be a level past that where we can be an even better version of ourselves.
Health and fitness are like a stairway — but there’s no top floor to reach.
We always want to get stronger, run faster, and lose more weight. It’s like the donkey chasing the dangling carrot in front of him.
As humans, we are never satisfied with where we are at.
So you need to cut yourself some slack. Remember, health needs to be about progress and not perfection.
When you can adopt this mindset, it becomes easier to make actual progress.
When you stop fixating on every little detail, you’ll be surprised at how the progress then comes.
With health and fitness, there isn’t a finish line to cross — it’s about the journey you’re on.
What Are the Physical Effects From the Pursuit of Perfection?
There are an endless amount of physical benefits that come from exercise. But at the same time, there are an endless amount of issues that come from elevated stress hormones.
Stressing over your health pursuits can lead to feelings of panic if you make a bad decision.
This causes a rise in stress hormones — primarily cortisol.
A little stress is ok, but constant stress can cause some pretty terrible conditions including:
- cardiovascular disease
- anxiety and depression
- digestive issues
- high blood pressure
- sleep issues
- heart attacks
- mental health issues
- personality disorders
This is just a small sampling, as this list is much longer.
Your exercise and diet are important for combatting stress, but it's hard to work out effectively if your body has turned on you like this.
If you spend the majority of the time fixated on what’s going wrong — those stress hormones will continue to be released.
Let your fitness make you feel good. Use it as a time for mental focus and clarity.
When you get in the zone, it creates a meditation-like effect that will do wonders to combat any stress you’re experiencing.
Exercise needs to help you, not hinder you.
Remind Yourself Why You Started This Journey
I’ve noticed how often this slips people’s minds. It’s easy to get in a rut and do the same things day in and day out.
When you always eat the same thing, you may forget why you included it in your diet in the first place.
If you are trudging along doing the same exercise routine, you may forget why you even started it. It used to make you feel good — now; it seems like a chore.
If this sounds familiar, it may be time to take a step back and ask yourself what you really want from your pursuit of health?
The first thing to do is to find the things that make you happy — especially with exercise. The healthiest form of activity is the one you’re excited and motivated to do.
If you hate your workouts, it’s time to switch it up. Try everything to see what clicks for you.
The best workout is the one you haven’t done yet, and exercise should be whatever makes you happy and feel good.
I’ve seen someone who became sick of the gym and started using an old Skip-It to get fit in her garage. She loves it and has now become more active than ever.
Fitness can be whatever you want it to be — so find what works best for you to keep you active.
The same thing goes for nutrition. Try some new healthy foods, or use a recipe you’ve never had before.
Get as much variety as you can and you may find new foods you never knew you liked. You’ll awaken your taste buds and appreciate what you eat even more.
If your pursuit of health has become a burden, you’re probably taking a few steps backward.
I’m not saying to stop exercising and start eating like crap, but put a plan in place that fits YOUR lifestyle as opposed to making your life fit the plan.
This is all meant to make you feel good. If it’s not, you need to make a change. I’d rather have a bit higher body fat percentage and be happy than despise every moment trying to get the best results.
All the Daily Health Decisions are Leaving Us Exhausted
The fact you are reading an article like this means you are aware of your health and wellness — and that’s the most important thing.
Awareness means you are more likely to make healthy decisions each day.
There will be slip-ups, but that doesn’t matter.
When you become a slave to every healthy decision you make, you move farther away from true wellness.
An addiction of any sort is not good, and being constantly caught up in your progress is no different.
If we constantly stress over our health, we cannot achieve true wellness.
Acknowledge the fact that you are a health-conscious person. Take confidence because most of your health and nutrition decisions have a positive effect on your health.
This is what’s important — not stressing over whether a certain food is perfectly keto-friendly or not.
You may not have chosen the best organic version of a food — but you didn’t end up going through the drive-through that day.
Focus on celebrating the small wins: not beating yourself up over a poor choice.
The Key Takeaway: Progress NOT Perfection
If you take away anything from this, let it be the focus on progress and not perfection with your health and wellness pursuits. I’ve said it several times, but it’s that critical.
Don’t beat yourself up because you had to cut a workout short — or miss it altogether. You’ll get back at it next time.
You had one poor meal; so what? You’re at least conscious of making healthy decisions and you’ll get back on track soon.
Just as one healthy meal or workout won’t transform your health; missing a workout or a poor meal won’t destroy it.
Was your workout not what you hoped? That’s ok, just remember: you were still being active — and every little bit helps.
When you question every health decision you make, it leads to a lack of balance.
Give yourself some breathing room and remember that things won’t always be perfect in pursuing health and fitness.
Just keep moving forward and remember: you’re on the right path. You can do this.