Imperfect Day


When people embark on a new venture, like a new nutrition program, they do not expect to fail. Full of vigour and enthusiasm, they feel ready to improve their diet, exercise and lifestyle. But if you ask them how they imagine their new life, almost inevitably you will get a picture of a PERFECT day. The day where they bounced out of bed early to go for workout (or at the very least, an energising walk), had all their meals prepared for the day, felt perfectly satisfied and full after each one, managed their work stress, astonished their work colleagues with own weight loss and vitality, had enough energy to attempt a deadlift PB in the evening, spent quality time with their family, browsed through at least 20 Paleo blogs, meditated, mastered a homemade jerky recipe and had a restoring 8 hour sleep undisturbed by blue light.

Nobody wants to think that one day they will want to throw their alarm clock across the room in the morning. Or that their work pressures will pile up over the course of the day culminating in a massive verbal punch up with a co-worker. Or that they will have a fight with their boyfriend and the thought of a pity party for one, complete with a tub of ice-cream and Lindt chocolate balls (ahem), seems like a perfectly reasonable idea.

Because that would be failure. And it wouldn’t happen. And, anyway, if it did, you would know exactly how to deal with it. Sure, 99.99% of people in your situation, would crumble and lose the plot. But you are different. You are SPECIAL. You have superhuman willpower, steely determination and you totally mean it this time.

Sorry to break it to you, a unique snowflake you are not.

But I was soooo strong…

Reality will bite you on the arse just like everyone else. Human physiology trumps willpower every single time. If you are working shift work, don’t expect to have energy for daily WODs. If you are stressed at work, don’t marvel at your increased appetite, and for God’s sake, don’t hover around a muffin platter. One of you is going to lose, and it ain’t gonna be the muffins.

So my new theory is, prepare for a IMPERFECT day. Think of everything that can go wrong (yes, I know, it’s a bit morbid) and work out a strategy of how you are going to overcome it, minimize it or at least mitigate the damage.

Here are a few of my strategies:

1. Too tired to cook healthy food at night -> Do a massive cook up prep with cut up veggies and pre-cooked meats Melissa Joulwan style on Sundays
2. No motivation to work out -> go for a long walk on uneven terrain, accelerate on a few stairs and recover in the open air
3. Fatigue/stress/frustration building in the afternoon -> take a 5 mins break outside, preferably on the open air, and take 20 deep breaths with your eyes closed
4. Cold/sore throat/cough/fever -> (I can’t believe I have to write this) please do not go to the gym. If energy levels are still ok, go for a short walk. If feeling tired, go home and curl up on the couch. Please.
5. Everything went wrong for you today, personal life in shambles, work has been shit, you want to cry, watch soppy movies and eat chocolate -> cry, watch soppy movies and eat the best goddam chocolate you can lay your hands on.



9 thoughts on “Imperfect Day

  1. As someone who’s been eating/living pretty damned well (low-carb with a Primal bent) since 2002 and more “proper” paleo since 2010 I wholeheartedly agree with all this!

    Living this way makes life much easier – but it doesn’t make it into a movie. 🙂

    • Yes, it’s not all bacon and smash out WODs :), that movie would have been really boring. Reality intervenes and we just have to deal with it as it comes.

  2. Love this post — very necessary reminder that it’s not all rainbows and unicorns… and that’s OK. Thank you for the linkback to my blog post about food prep!

    • Hi Melissa. Shame about the unicorns but sometimes people need a reminder of what their own life is actually like and where they are likely to trip. Your food prep method has been a life saver for me since starting residency! And I made your scotch eggs last night (with a little kink: I rolled them in dukkah before baking – crispy yumminess).

  3. There is another trick to have food always available – to cook extra each time when you cook and put that food in mason jars (I put jars filled 1/4 with hot water in a microwave for 2 min for sterilization) while food is still very hot. When I make soup or stew I always fill at lest two cup-size jars with it. When I make a boiled beef tong, I cut 1/3 of it , put in a jar and cover with boiling broth for later use. It could be done with chicken, meat jello (cholodets) could be canned when it is hot. I live in Florida now, sometimes we have hurricanes, and our population always run to stores to buy nonperishable food (boxed cereals, caned food and snacks) during hurricane warning. Due to my canning , I have to buy only water.

      • Sorry, I didn’t answer sooner, somehow I didn’t get a notification about your reply. I guess, properly pasteurized jars could be kept outside a fridge for a long time, but because I don’t pasteurize after placing boiling food into a jar (which is pasteurized separably in a microwave), I keep closed jars in a fridge up to 3 months, usually shorter time. I do canning for convenience, not in order preserve a crop for a winter time. My usual problem – I prefer to cook soup or stew in big amounts, but I know it may get spoiled after 4 – 5 days in a fridge, and after 2 – 3 days my family may want some variety, so I immediately can away at least half of cooked food. It is really convenient to have a choice between cooking or just opening some jar. Freezing doesn’t work so well for me, I have a tendency to forget about what was frozen, several times glass jars got cracked in my freezer, I don’t want to put a hot food into plastic, also fridge wouldn’t be working during tropical-storm-related power shortages .
        So far no food got spoiled and no one got poisoned during many years of me using mason jars (or any reusable glass jar with a screw-on well-fitted lid) for food preservation.

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