Several years ago, I was following a pretty strict meal plan in hopes of losing some body fat. I could only white-knuckle my way through the meal plan for so long before I started sneaking in extras, usually in the form of nuts and nut butter. I’d toss back a heaping spoonful of almond butter and was immediately hit with a huge wave of guilt.
I’d think, “Great, this day is ruined!”, and then I’d proceed to do what the majority of people do when they fall off their meal plan: swan dive into the pantry for more snacks, blowing the rest of the day to smithereens.
I viewed my success with nutrition and training as either “good” or “bad”, leading me to either feel like a total rock star or a failure. All it took was a small handful of chocolate or some extra nut butter to make me believe the day was a monumental waste, which then resulted in a landslide of poor food choices for the remainder of that day.
Without exception, I was expecting perfection from myself, which was a huge mistake.
Whether you are working towards improving your nutrition skills, losing body fat, or getting stronger, how do you set realistic expectations?
Two of the most common questions that we get in Strongest You Coaching are:
These are fair but tricky questions: we don’t have the answers, because they depend on so many factors.
By learning to better manage your expectations, you can help avoid becoming too emotionally attached to a specific result, and cope better if things don’t pan out exactly the way you envision them.
Life is guaranteed to surprise you: it will surprise you in positive ways, and it will surprise you in negative ways. You can have your workout schedule in place, only to see the gym suddenly close for the week due to a burst pipe. You can plan all of your healthy meals for the week, and be surprised by your family paying you an unexpected visit and bringing over pizza for dinner.
When we set expectations, it’s easy to be let down because things don’t systematically happen as we predicted. No matter what happens, however, you can find peace in knowing that you are doing your very best with whichever situation comes your way. This means taking responsibility for your actions when things aren’t going according to plan. If you can’t go to the gym, can you take a walk instead? If you are served pizza, can you enjoy one slice and then eat later when there are different food options available?
The one thing that you can expect and control is that you are in charge of your own actions and reactions, regardless of outside circumstances.
It can be really easy to expect perfection in terms of nutrition and working out, but the fact of the matter is that not every day will be the right day to work on your goals. Some days are better for focusing on maintenance, and that’s great!
My colleague Josh Hillis once said on a podcast that “Not every day will be a fat loss day”, and it was a lightbulb moment for me. I realized I had been spent my dieting days expecting just that! This expectation set me up for failure, because not every day can be a fat loss day, or a day where we become stronger, or a day where we improve our eating skills. Know that life will happen, and the most we can do is handle it in the best way we can.
This is closely related to what I mentioned above about only being able to control your actions and reactions, but it’s worth mentioning in a different way:
Rather than focusing on expectations, what would happen if you poured all of your energy into simply committing to doing your very best with the hand you are dealt each day?
Ultimately, that is all you can control.
When our expectations don’t pan out the way we had hoped, it’s easy to lose sight of the good things. As I shared in the beginning of this article, I used to let an extra heaping spoonful of almond butter detract from the fact that I ate veggies at all of my meals that day, drank plenty of water, got lots of sleep, and exercised.
When it comes to expectations, there are a lot of variables at play. This means that we can’t always predict an accurate outcome, which can leave us feeling disappointed. It’s important to refrain from letting expectations steal joy from the experience.
The key is to focus on what you are able to do with what's available, and commit to do your very best!
With Girls Gone Strong Coaching, you’ll get the support, accountability, and expert coaching to eat and exercise in a sustainable way — without restrictive diets or spending your life in the gym.
Whether your health and fitness goals are to…
... or anything else, we’ll help you achieve them. You can experience life-changing results while eating and exercising in a way that actually fits into your life — instead of controlling it.
Throughout our 12-month program, you’ll get a simple, step-by-step plan for developing nutrition, fitness, and mindset habits that will lead the way in reaching your goal.
Your coach is available 6 days a week to answer questions and help you navigate situations — like when you need advice for how to eat while you’re on vacation), when you want exercise substitutions so you don’t aggravate your knee pain, or when you need to plan a workout when you have limited equipment options — so you always have support when you need it. And together, you'll find the best path toward long-term results in a way that works for you.
You’ll learn how to:
And you’ll become the happiest, fittest, strongest version of yourself, one step at a time.
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