Progress Not Perfection: You Can’t Punish Yourself to Good Health

Recently, my wife and I started a keto-genic diet to lose weight. After just 4 days, both my wife and I had lost 5 lbs. As we shared a lunch together and talked about our goals/plans, my wife talked about not wanting to eat food that was too flavor-full because it might exacerbate her cravings.

At the time, a good insight came to me that I would like to share with you all here.

I asked my wife a simple questions, “Is this a diet to you or a lifestyle”?

She replied, “a lifestyle.”

I then said, “then, you should eat flavor-full food, because it isn’t just a diet, but a lifestyle.”

She agreed, and said, “I shouldn’t torture myself.”

And that’s when a compelling insight came to me. After agreeing with my wife, I said, “You can’t punish yourself to health.”

You Can’t Punish Yourself to Good Health

This is true, because punishing yourself and pushing yourself are two very different things. Pushing yourself to accomplish a micro-goal while you’re finishing a workout isn’t the same as punishing yourself now for the mistakes you’ve made in the past.

My wife, was unconsciously, trying to punish herself now with less flavorful food because she felt guilty for enjoying flavor-filled food before and it led to her gaining weight. Not a good/necessary approach when you’re making a long-term lifestyle change.

Many of us are attempting to “punish” ourselves into better circumstances or to produce what we envision to be better outcomes. Naturally, this is counter-productive. These forms of self-deprication and punishment may create wins in the short-term, but they are inept to help us acheive our long-term vision.

Our Long-term Values and Standards

It’s far better to approach life with the end in mind and reverse engineer our long-term desires, goals, and aspirations to the actions we do/don’t take today.

And that’s where true wisdom lies, when we are not only clear about what we say yes to, but what we say no to.

Life-math isn’t just about addition, it’s also about subtraction. Our long-term vision and goals should inform what we take on and don’t take on today.

Fad-diets and cultural/social trends may be alluring, but we need to make sure those things line up with our long-term vision and goals in life before we hop on the bandwagon.

The opposite is also true. We shouldn’t treat or approah our long-term lifestyle changes as it they are just a fad or trend. This is the difference between a personal value and an opinion. Values carry standards and opinions are just fleeting suggestions.

We don’t treat our values and standards the same way we do opinions and suggestions.

Don’t Eat the Twinky, But Enjoy the Chicken

If our values and standards demand a healthier and happier verson of our self that has the strength and energy to enjoy a long life, we should not eat the twinky, but marinade the chicken.

We can’t take back the twinkies we ate in the past by not marinading/enjoying the chicken we eat today.

It isn’t a zero-sum game. Don’t enjoy a twinky, WHILE enjoying your chicken.

The stress created by trying to “punish” your way to health alone will sabotage any progress you may make.

There are many people that on the surface appear healthy and are not. It’s an illusion, because we can’t see what’s going on inside them.

The Illusion of Perfection

People in great external/physical shape that are being driven by toxic emotions to succeed and it compromises their health. People that stress so much about what to eat/not eat that they literally run themselves into the ground.

People who, any dopamine they enjoy after a good workout is short lived as they quickly transition to psycho-analyzing and stressing about how “not perfect” they still are. Completely, counter-productive.

The stress of perfection loves to interupt the celebration of progress.

We have to remind ourselves to enjoy the small victories, because progress beats perfection any day.

Share in the comments below what ways you may be trying to “punish” yourself to good health. Or, what strategies you’ve used to celebrate progress more than you stress over perfection.

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A Little Bit About Me…

Hi, my name is Daniel Fortune. I’m a husband to 1, dad to 5, U.S. Army combat veteran, mental health advocate, writer, and public speaker currently residing in the central valley of the sunny state of California. I started the Minding My Own Madness Blog as with a vision to become one of the best personal development and mental health resource blogs. As someone who has battled with combat related PTSD and Bipolar 1 Disorder for 2 decades now, I intimately know the unique struggles people living with a mental illness face. Feel free to contact me at if you find yourself in crisis or would just like to say hi. I’m always just a message away.

Daniel Fortune - Minding My Own Madness
Daniel Fortune – Minding My Own Madness

“You can’t fail if you refuse to quit. Keep fighting the good fight and NEVER lose hope. You’re not alone. There are other people feeling the same way you feel right now. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of wisdom.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I had the honor of serving with Fortune overseas. He is a solid guy and our relationship has lasted long after us both leaving the Army. He has helped me get out of dark places multiple times. I’m extremely grateful for his friendship and ability to sense when others are in need. Read his content, ask him questions, and journey well!

— Eric (Friend/Army veteran)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

So glad I found this blog! It helped me find the mental health resources I needed and get out of a rough patch. Doesn’t hurt to shoot Daniel a message. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to respond to me. You won’t regret it. He’s a really cool, down to earth, and knowledgable guy who knows what it’s like to struggle. So grateful for this blog!

— Spencer

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