In case you missed my most recent Facebook LIVE video, I’ve uploaded it to Youtube for you right here! I’ve also decided to write a post to go right along with it.
Today I’m talking about why “GO WITH THE FLOW” has become my new mantra.
Because really, there’s something so powerful about words and affirmations.
What does “go with the flow” mean?
Consciously choosing to live a healthy life can get tough sometimes, but it’s a commitment to ourselves that we are worth it. I believe that taking care of ourselves, and our health, is one of the most important acts of self-care that we can commit.
However, it doesn’t come without it’s challenges.
We all know that life has a tendency to come by and throw us for a loop, or shake us up, when we’re just starting to begin new healthy habits. Sometimes you wonder if it was perfectly planned to give you an excuse to give up.
In fact, it’s that kind of thinking that gets most people in trouble. That kind of thinking will result in giving up on yourself and your health.
Think about it. You’ve committed to beginning a regular workout schedule. Your goal is to make it to the gym every second day, and spend at least 30 minutes on cardio. It’s three weeks in and you’re feeling great. You’ve made it to the gym without fail. You’ve prioritized taking care of yourself and you’re finally creating a great habit. Just then you come down with a pretty bad cold that knocks you out for nearly a week. Worst timing, right?
You’d have two options. One, to give up and just say “nevermind, clearly I’m not meant for this, I can’t even commit to myself.” Or two, to go with the flow, adapt to life, and say “I will return when I’m well, this is just a side-step in my plan, no big deal.” One of these automatic thoughts is more stressful than the other. Can you guess which is which?
What does “go with the flow” mean?
Going with the flow means being able to adapt to changes in your situation, or simply, life. It’s freedom to embrace change, and accept occasional uncertainty.
When you adopt a go with the flow attitude, you experience much less stress than someone who resists change. Resistance to change, or expecting your life to fit within rigid parameters that you set, will only set you up for stress and anger. Life is never perfectly linear. We must adapt to life’s changes without punishing ourselves or feeling unworthy.
And no, you did not “fall off the bandwagon”
I hear people say this all the time. I have clients say this to me anytime they’re not eating “perfectly” or if they’ve stopped exercising regularly.
This is the exact same rigid attitude that stresses us out. We believe that to be healthy we must stay on this “bandwagon”. Perhaps the bandwagon is exercising regularly, and if we stop exercising, we’ve fallen off of it.
There are two reasons why this phrase bothers me:
- Healthy choices are not “a bandwagon”. The changes that you are making are healthy lifestyle habits. They should not be short-term changes and therefore they are not a “bandwagon”. They are simply life. They are long-term adjustments and should be treated as such.
- Life is constantly changing, and sometimes you need to adapt to a new situation. Just because you began eating differently or stopped exercising for a period of time doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It doesn’t mean you’ve “fallen off” of anything. You haven’t given up. You’ve simply experienced life, or a change, and you may need to modify your original strategy.
Sometimes we need to adapt our habits to our lifestyle
Sometimes we can’t work out three to four times a week. When I burnt out, it took me almost a year before I could exercise regularly again without weakness, dizziness or feelings of exhaustion. It would have been so easy to tell myself “you’re a failure, you’re so unhealthy, you’re going to gain weight, you’re going to feel so terrible”.
But guess what… Those were negative words and negative thoughts. This was the truth:
- I was not a failure, I simply could not work out. This didn’t mean I failed at anything, especially not life or my goals. Things simply changed.
- I was not unhealthy either – in fact, working out would have been much more unhealthy as it would have made my adrenal fatigue worse. I was taking care of myself in the best way I knew how, which was much healthier than pushing myself past my limits.
- Telling myself I’d get fat? Well that was only a self-damaging thought, and instead I adopted a self-love mindset. My body is my vehicle and it has gotten me here. Now I must nurture it in the best way possible so it can support me the rest of my life.
All this to say, life happens. Things change. Sometimes our healthy habits need to change with us. Sometimes we can’t practice our morning routines because we’re exhausted and need sleep. Sometimes we can’t find time to meditate for 10 minutes and can only meditate for two. Shifting and adapting to our life is not failure. It’s simply learning to go with the flow.
Finding that balance and being okay with change
Many of us simply want to find a state of balance. We want to feel good in our lives, our minds and our body. We often create healthy habits so we can return to a state of balance.
But first we must love ourselves. We must practice self-compassion. We must understand that life is never static.
One of my favourite quotes reminds us that change is the only constant in this world. Without accepting and embracing change, we risk stressing ourselves out over the details.
And what is the best way to embrace change? Adopting a ‘go with the flow’ attitude.
Why we need to stop punishing ourselves
Many of us expect to be able to sustain our healthy habits forever, but that’s not always the case. While we’d like to make healthy lifestyle changes, sometimes we need to adjust them based on our life’s circumstances.
For example, pretend you chose to give up sugar. You’d feel more and more proud the longer you went without it. But then life happens. You’re at a friend’s house and they offer you a homemade cookie. At first you resist because you’ve been giving up sugar. Then you decide to take a small piece, and the flavour bursts in your mouth. After the initial feeling of joy, you feel shame, anger and disappointment in yourself. How could you have a moment of weakness? You were off sugar for 3 weeks! Now you have to start over!
First of all – did you notice the negativity in that response? That mindset was a negative and limiting mindset. No, you don’t need to feel shame, anger and disappointment. You are allowed to enjoy yourself, make different choices and adapt to your circumstances. Also, you did not fall off the bandwagon, and no you don’t need to “start over”. You don’t need to prove anything to yourself, and you certainly don’t need to track how long you’ve made these changes for. If they’re long-term lifestyle changes, they are something you can jump right back into when you can, as long as they still serve you.
Eat the cookie. Enjoy it. And then politely decline a second if it means that much to you. No harm done. You have simply adapted and gone with the flow.
Two reasons not to punish yourself if you don’t achieve “perfection”
Talking down to yourself, or getting angry with yourself, is no way to sustain healthy habits. You’re motivated by fear, rather than by love and self-respect.
Here are two reasons not to punish yourself if you don’t achieve the “perfection” you desire:
1 | No one is perfect. Period.
Literally no one. I was delivering a presentation the other day and someone from the audience made a comment about how, as a nutritionist, I must be perfect and never eat sugar or junk food. This is absolutely not true. I am human just like everyone else. I have cravings just like everyone else. And yes, I do eat sugar on occasion. Just like everyone else.
As a nutritionist, I have the knowledge and awareness of how certain foods make me feel and I know what will nourish my body. I often know how to make those cravings subside, but sometimes I just want a cookie. When that happens, I eat it and I enjoy it. And I want to say that I see you. I see you eating that cookie, and I give you permission to enjoy it.
2 | Perfectionism = stress.
The perfectionist mindset is one of scarcity. If you’re constantly striving for perfection, something impossible to achieve, you’ll never believe you’re enough. No matter what.
With a perfectionist mindset, you put yourself in this place where you must be perfect to succeed. Realistically, that will never ever happen. Life changes, and chances are you’ll be forced to make a choice that isn’t “perfect” at some point. This will add more stress to building new habits, and will set you up for “failure”. Then you’ll feel terrible because you’ve punished yourself for something unsustainable.
There’s no self-love in striving for perfection.
Learning to go with the flow
So instead of choosing perfection, disappointment, stress and punishment, I’m learning to go with the flow. I’m learning to love myself no matter what. I’m learning to be okay if things don’t work out the way I had hoped. If I go a couple of weeks without exercise because I had other priorities, I won’t beat myself up for it. If I eat sugar two weeks into a no-sugar challenge, I won’t “start over” because I’d “failed”.
We all have an opportunity to work on self-love. We all have an opportunity to work on removing judgement and punishment. We all have a chance to place less stress on ourselves with our mindset and outlook on the world.
So for now, I’m choosing to go with the flow.