98 and ¾ Percent Guaranteed

“And will you succeed?  Yes indeed, yes indeed!  Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!”  – Dr. Seuss “Oh! The Places You’ll Go”

How can it be March already?!  The year is seemingly flying by and I feel I have little to show for myself.

Most of February I ate well.  And, I actually got in a lot of cardio despite my January surgery.  I made strides in my eating goals, including my recent food tracking… most days.  I drank tons.  I even remembered to meditate now and then.  I thought I was doing fairly well, most of the time.  But there in lies the rub.  “Most days” and “most of the time” and “now and then” is not cutting it.

Clearly I have a consistency problem.

Come on, Karen.  Get your act together already!  Every day; every choice; not just 90% of the time.  Because 90% may work for some people but it clearly isn’t working for me.

So, for March, I intend to meet my goals every day.  100%.  But wait!  Is 100% too lofty an aspiration?  Unachievable perfection?  Setting myself up for failure?  Putting me at risk of once again falling prey to my “all or nothing,” “black or white” mentality that has messed me up time and time again?  100% scares me a bit.  Should it?  Should I aim for 99% instead?  So one little slip doesn’t mean failure?  Is that a logical approach… or am I making excuses to let myself off the hook?

I’d really like to know what you think.

Because I’m torn.  When I started writing this post I was all gung ho about consistency and commitment.  But then I began to double guess myself.  100% means 31 days of eating (every single bite) well and exercising.  Of living a healthy lifestyle.  Zero deviation.  No slip ups.

And I know 90% didn’t work for me.  Would 95% do the trick?  Would 98 and ¾%?  They are all just estimates, just guesses, not really definable quantities.  Maybe I really need that 100%:  31 days of perfect healthy living.  Thirty-one days to develop good habits again and get rid of bad ones.  Thirty-one days that will end in 31 nights when I go to bed pleased with myself and knowing I will have no regrets come morning.  One little month.  (Then two, then three.)  Sounds good.  Too good?

So I’m going round and round in my mind.  Because I want to make a new commitment.  I NEED to make a consistency commitment.   But I don’t know if I need 100%.  Or if 100% will work for me.  Or against me.

Am I making sense?  Or babbling Seussical non-sense.



Filed under dieting, goals, making a change

71 responses to “98 and ¾ Percent Guaranteed

  1. 100% is admirable AND achievable! I don’t think the problem is aiming too high, I think the problem is not forgiving yourself when you come up short.

    You CAN do 31 days of perfection. And if halfway through, you realize that it’s going to be 30 days instead, well, forgive and remind yourself that you’ve got 15 days left in the month, and 100% of 15 days is still 100%!

    You can do it!

    • Karen

      That is a great way to look at it, Theresa. This is what I love about blogging – throwing something out here and getting a response that changes my thinking or opens my eyes or makes me question.

  2. Karen, 100% is not unachievable nor should you be afraid to fail. When I made my mind up I was going to lose my weight and I joined Nutrisystems nothing got in my way. Once you make your mind up you can do it. I didn’t falter once when I was in losing mode it was a beautiful thing.

    Now its a lot harder because its not new and I only need to lose 10 pounds. I just don’t have the mindset to do it.

    Perhaps you just need to do something new like join a plan somewhere that has “rules”. I know you can do it and so do you; have faith in yourself. 🙂

    • Karen

      Funny you should suggest that because I have wondered if I need a new “plan” myself. Actually, I have questioned the whole notion of even following a “plan.” But that is a whole blog post in and of itself, I think.

  3. What about a 100% goal, but one that includes a built-in release valve, such as a rest day once a week, or a food treat a couple of times a week, something like that?

    • Karen

      Well that’s an interesting idea! I tend to be so black and white in my thinking and so scared of moderation that I didn’t consider that as an option. Hmmm.

  4. We can go 23 hours and 45 minutes of perfect and ruin it all in 15 minutes. What about if we ate less than what we considered 100% perfect rather than more? Have you ever tried low carb eating? I can honestly say I am never ravenously hungry anymore. When my stomach growls it is not after I have battled to avoid eating for an hour first.

    • Karen

      Yes, South Beach Diet. Although while most people consider that low-carb I think of it as good-carb. I understand the theory of protein and fiber keeping us full longer but don’t know if it works for me. But, it is almost a moot point because my problem is eating when I am NOT hungry:(

  5. This whole thing sets massive alarm bells ringing for me. If it was me and i missed my 100% that would be it for the month, i would lose motivation completely to carry on because i’d missed my target. I don’t know anyone who is 100% committed and successful to their goals every month, i just don’t think that’s possible.

    So, a suggestion, instead of picking a percentage why not try and do a little better than you did the month before – doing better will become second nature before you know it and then you can re-assess your goals?

    • Karen

      One thing that still resonates with me, that I have heard many times in the blog world, is the notion of progress not perfection. Love that idea. Just wish my progress was a bit more linear in the forward direction:)

  6. For me to give advice would be the epitome of the “pot calling the kettle black!” But I do know this because I’ve proven it time and time again in my own journey. If you commit to the 100% and stick to it for the month of March, you will have developed a habit of 100% and April will be much less daunting. By May, June, etc., it’s downright easy. So yes, my friend, you can do this 100% and so can I.

    • Karen

      Last year at this time I was plugging along with such motivation. I went more than 10 weeks with not one cheat. TEN weeks! Where is that woman?!

  7. For me if I say I will do it 100% when I do slip up a bit I end up beating myself up which usually ends with me just saying “Oh, what the heck” and blowing it all together. I am more inclined to agree with Dr. Suess;)

    But just remember, Karen…it is up to YOU. What may be the way for me…may not fit with you, ya’ know?

    The main thing is that you keep on moving forward:)


    • Karen

      Yep, I agree. We are all different in what works for us. And I guess I am even different over time in what works for ME! Last year I was doing great with 100%. Now – yikes.

  8. Go for the 100% – start out second guessing yourself is planning for not being successful. Am cheering you on from Atlanta!

  9. Oh the great mind debate….commitment, consistency, all of those… take the 100% commitment…. give it your ALL!

  10. Great post, Karen. I love Dr. Suess. I hear you about the black and white thinking. It’s gotten me into trouble a lot in the past. If we could shoot for 100% and not get messed up at the small percentage we don’t hit every once in awhile, I think that would be best. No beating up on ourselves! That’s the key, I think.

  11. You know, I start every year out with good intentions, planning in January how I will work out around the kids on summer vacation. January came and went, and then February. Now it’s March and I decided to quit worrying about the week ahead, the month ahead, and the quarter ahead. Just focus on today, and do your best…because we have enough stress in our lives without creating any more.

    • Karen

      Well that is another interesting perspective – focusing on today and not worrying about tomorrow. Or yesterday!

  12. Just remember, progress, not perfection 🙂

    I think you can do it for sure- BUT if you don’t or you make a mistake it’s is OKAY, do YOUR best 🙂

    Have a good weekend – I’m rooting for you!

    • Karen

      The key for me is, if I do make a mistake, not to turn that into a huge binge. As the saying goes – no one gets fat from one piece of cake.

  13. Oh that 100% perfection things sets me up failure.

    I fall too easily into the all or nothing thinking. If I can’t achieve the 100% perfect day, week or month then I too easily can give it all up to a binge! Not good for me.

    I vote for moving ahead and taking each day as it comes, do your best. Some days our best is better than other days.

    Let us know what you decide to do.

    • Karen

      This reminds me of something I just read, a blog I guess, that was about doing your best. It was about competition, actually. And it reminded me how, as a parent, that’s what I would tell my kids. Guess I need to listen to my own advice:)

  14. You just have to do the best you can do, if that is 31 perfect days, that is great, if it is 29 that is also great!

  15. I like to go into dieting with a 100% attitude. It works for awhile and then I slip and say “well since I already messed up…” – Not good. Just try your best and I’m sure you will have success 🙂

  16. sunnydaze

    I’m a black and white person, too and struggle with that way of thinking sometimes, too.

    I agree with Bee – progress not perfection. Just strive to better each day. Anything better than the day before is progress. 😉

  17. I tend to be a black and white person. And/but, I gotta say, that from the outside looking in, my perspective, you worry too much about numbers. You need to focus more on living in the moment. That means, not worrying about the whole month. Just worry about you are doing right now. Just concerning yourself ONLY with the next decision you make. Not projecting things out. If you just look at today, right now….the rest will take care of itself when it becomes THAT day or THAT time. Take time to stop and smell the roses of right now, instead of worrying about tending to the whole forest. 🙂

    • Karen

      I worry too much about lots of things! I am the opposite of “don’t sweat the small stuff.” But, truth be told, I might not really think about it all as much as my blog suggest. Or maybe I do. Love your attitude:)

  18. Karen, I think only you can answer this for yourself & you may have answered it in your post. You say you have trouble with consistency & 90% is not working for you. You also worry about setting yourself up for failure.

    From your past posts, you do admit that once you get to a party or start eating something “off your plan”, it sort of gets you off plan for a bit to long or you keep eating at the party or family thing instead of just stopping at one thing.

    I think you need to evaluate for yourself if you can commit to stopping at say 1 or 2 treats a week & that does not mean a bag of things but say only 1 cookie or only 1 portion size of something. If you can’t do that, you may want to go for that 100%. I know many out there in blog world that feel that if they eat something they really want, they can’t stop so they just decide not to eat it for now.

    I will say that at some point in the future, life is life & there has to be a learning process on how to not overeat in certain situations & with certain foods because there will always be temptations along the way.

    Go for the 100% for now if you feel that is best for you BUT don’t get down on yourself & go food crazy if you don’t make it. Just stop & get back to basics!

    • Karen

      So last year I had a long stretch of staying 100% on plan and that included social eating. I suspect that when I eat well I don’t get as tempted. So that makes me wonder if I am better off to do that 100% and lose the desire for treats or whatever, or if I am better to maybe plan for little treats now and then and lose the “all or nothing” mentality. Just thinking outloud.

  19. I think the 100% goal is good for maybe the beginning of a diet, but you can’t sustain it forever. I’ve always heard about the 80/20 rule, but I’d say for good results 90/10 or 92/5 is good. You need a little room to breath and not have to be so hard on yourself if one day you aren’t 100%.

    • Karen

      Ah, but 90% is about what I have been doing. And it seems that 10% undoes everything. Sigh. I lose slowly and gain it back overnight. Arrrgh!

  20. Jan

    Intention is the strongest predictor of behavior. If one doesn’t plan on 100%, one will never get there. Maybe you can be more specific about the the percentage, for example, track every day, meditate every other day for X number of minutes, etc. Or not… This is your plan, and you can stick with it!

    • Karen

      I thought past performance was the best predictor:) You do have a good idea here. Maybe I can set mini-goals for myself and work on a few things at a time.

      • Jan

        For planned behavior, intention does seem to predict success, or at least attempts to change. For behavior that is more spontaneous (substance use, sexual activity among teens, as examples) prior behavior is an important predictor. So, for those of us who eat mindlessly (and I have done more than my share of this), I bet you are correct.

  21. Consistency is my problem too!
    Also, I love the Dr. Suess quote. He’s da bomb 🙂

  22. Yikes!!!
    I got anxious just taking that ride with you.
    But a few deep breaths and I think that it’s better to commit to 100%. In everything we do. Some days we might fall short, but some days we may go even farther than we thought.
    We’d never consider striving to reach 95% of our potential, right?
    We’re so afraid of trying and failing at this particular challenge that we twist ourselves in knots and I don’t think it’s productive at all.
    Bottom line: If you want something, believe in something… you must give it 100%, commit to it 100%.
    Then remember that you’re human and if you have a bad day, be grateful that you get a whole new chance to try again.

  23. I’ve actually always tried for 75-80% – now, that depends on what that looks like for you. For me, it’s 100% on plan during the week and 75% on plan on the weekends (usually Friday nights are my indulgent nights). But it could be 75% on plan for the day – either way is good and admirable. Good luck!

    • Karen

      So maybe I need 100% 6 days a week and allow just a little leeway one day. But that has to be a little… that is the problem for me.

  24. You have just articulated my exact struggle. I am such a perfectionist, that if I’m not 100% on plan, I’m a failure. It just isn’t with dieting either. I’m that way with everything. When you figure it out, please let me know.

    • Karen

      I am a reforming perfectionist:) Really. I have to tell myself “this doesn’t have to be perfect” about stuff. I’d never publish a blog post if I didn’t!

  25. Ouch – brilliant question, but one I don’t have answers to. I am in the same boat. Perhaps aim for 100% but be kind to yourself if you slip up? And don’t let a slip up sabotage the rest of your choices… easier said than done, of course. Good luck – looking forward to reading the next post!

    • Karen

      I do need to be kind to myself! Thanks for reminding me. And those slip ups, I need to let the little ones stay little ones.

  26. Honestly? I don’t know what’s right for you. My approach (the successful one as opposed to the previous 20-30 that didn’t work) was difficult because it was such a different way of thinking, and I’ve been at it so long now that I’m finding it difficult to get back to that mindset that shot for 100% and accepted only that as success. I simply don’t buy into the notion of perfection anymore. But that’s just me, and who am I to say that it’s not right for you?

  27. Well, you have read enough of my blog to know that I am far from perfect on my plan. But it is working. Slow and steady. Which leads me to my question: why not slow and steady for you? Why even bother with perfection-the 100% thing? It is not even attainable. It is not all or nothing, in my book, it is about learning to live with sensibility and reason. That is what I strive for sensibility and reason. Not depriving. Not 100% Not perfect. We are just human beings, you know. Not perfect. I mean this only in the best way: Could you live with a sensibility and reason about food and eating? Could you let go of even the desire to be 98 and 3/4ths??

    • Karen

      You are so wise! I have actually been thinking about this type of thing off and on lately. That if I had just slowllllly lost over time I would long ago have been “done” and probably happily maintaining. Not that I think I am out for a “quick fix” of fast loss, I know that doesn’t happen. But I do seem to get stuck with my thinking.

  28. OK, I’m throwing in my two cents here, even though you have a lot of great advice already. I am not really sure how you would do by committing to 100%, only because you don’t particularly like the idea of challenges/goals/resolutions. I don’t tend to make resolutions, either. I just decide that every day I will do my best to make a good decision. Period. Except I do things ‘one day ahead’ at a time. If you feel like you’re backed into doing this it may prove to be very unappealing. I guess it all comes down to whether or not you still have the same feelings regarding resolutions or not. If you feel comfortable with the idea, go for it. If you’re still turned off by them then before bed, say to yourself: tomorrow I will do xyz. I tend to do better that way because I’m already working on it the day of, as well as thinking about it for tomorrow.
    Geez, I think I’m starting to sound all Seussian. Did any of that make sense? If not, it’s probably best. lol

    • Karen

      I think that one day at a time would be a much better overall approach to most anything! I suspect I got very caught up in the start of a new month (which is what was actually my initial direction with the post when I started) and feeling a bit like I had wasted February. What is it about new months or new years or new weeks that makes so many of us think of it as a time to restart?

  29. Miz

    back reading this again FINALLY with time to comment.

    for ME what works is striving for 100% every day.
    some days I hit 90 others I hit 50 (honestly) but for me the aiming for consistency means that the 50% days are quickly balanced out….no one day really matters in the scope of LIFE more than any other.

    does that help at all?

  30. Karen — I’m such an immediate thinker that planning for 30 days just doesn’t work for me. Either the 30 days never starts or I stop because I did 5 days, then was off, so am starting over so I blew it so I’ll wait to start the 30 again. I do better with a day at a time … if I’m off for one day that’s okay because I’m doing this a day at a time. (I’d say a meal at a time, but you’ve said before that snacking is your problem not the meals.)

    • Karen

      How about one mouthful at a time! Or one step (as in exercise) at a time? This post started as a “Can’t believe it is March already” idea that probably got me thinking of the month as my timeframe. But your comment and others have me rethinking my focus. Funny how often I can shift my paradigm. Really, focusing on now is so much smarter than looking ahead. I can only control myself now so why worry about me tomorrow and next week. Hmmm. Hope you are having a great trip!

  31. I never set goals, I move in a direction. If you really want to be successful at this kind of thinking, I suggest a money penalty, say burn a $20 dollar bill every time you slip up. You will be successful pretty soon this way.

  32. I need to set goals otherwise, I have NO direction. I’m also a perfectionist and sometimes I can “overdo” it and be too hard on myself. Excellent post!

  33. My head was spinning while reading your post. Thinking to myself how could I ever achieve 100%? This is maybe because I allow myself too much slack. I believe that indulging every now and then is important. Moderation is the key to this belief and I am not sure if I practice it in moderation. I like the 98 3/4%. Keep in mind that down time is important and we should listen to our bodies. Can you do this if you have 100% expectation of yourself?

    • Karen

      Last year at this same time I was in the midst of a long stretch or staying on track for over 10 weeks running. Not one cheat. And the longer I went the less I missed it. BUT, my vision at the time was eventually maintaining with a lifestyle that did include moderation.

      After I started struggling and regaining and struggling, I began to questions not only moderation but everything else!

      So, to answer your question… I don’t know!

  34. I think 100% is a great way to go! Spring is on it’s way and it doesn’t hurt to buckle down a little bit before the tank top and shorts weather gets here! 🙂 I think that moderation doesn’t really work for people like you and me. We have allowed ourselves “treats” for the last 40 years of our lives. Why do we still need to keep eating cake and other goodies when we know they are bad for us and they just make it harder to stay on the straight and narrow? We are not getting anything good from eating these foods, so maybe they shouldn’t be eaten at all?

    • Karen

      See that moderation thing… people who can do it don’t understand why some of us can’t:) In my mind I once envisioned a lifestyle that included it but kept asking if I would really want that stuff once I had it out of my system. Maybe I’d be so over any kind of junk. Don’t know yet.

  35. Nicole

    Karen, You can do it!!

  36. I’ve really been mulling this over because I know for sure I cannot be 100% according to what 100% means to me. And I really think that this is the key. You need to define what 100% means to you before you can commit to doing it. Then it will be easier to set your goal that is achievable.

    For example, when I was on Nutrisystem alcohol was not allowed so if I have 1/2 a glass of wine then technically I was NOT 100%. So, I would strive to be 100% for 25 days this month, allowing for 6 days of less than 100%. It didn’t mean I pigged out on those 6 days but it did mean that if I went out to dinner with my friends I could have a glass or 2 of wine without feeling like I blew the whole month.

    I think people tend to set goals which can’t be measured (ie I will work out more this month then last month~how do you measure this? Better to put an actual number on on it like I will work out 20 times this month). And they also set unrealistic goals like I will work out 20 minutes a day, everyday…well, what happens on the day you don’t feel well or you have a sick kid or have to work late? You don;t give yourself any wiggle room or way to ‘make it up’.

    I hope that makes sense. =)

    • Karen

      Yes – it does make sense. I often fall into the all or nothing trap where I slip a bit and so then go crazy rather than getting back on track right away. When I fall, I fall big! I love the idea of defining 100% for myself. Even when I wrote out pretty detailed goals recently I could have been more specific.

  37. I started my blog for the same reason – to track my progress in losing weight and getting back into my little black dress. I have undermined myself more by expecting less of myself than when I expected more and the best from myself. I am aiming, from this day forward for the month of March, to 100 percent take my Krill oil pills daily, drink my specified amount of water daily, eat the amount of calories I need to daily, and exercise 30 minutes every day including Sunday. I may or may not allow one day off from exercise but that is negotiable with myelf only after the first week. That is my 100 percent for this month. I can do this. What would you consider 100 percent for you?

  38. oh I forgot – I also have to weigh all my food and write what I eat daily in my food journal. These are things I’ve already accomplished before – they are not impossible goals – I just finagle too much.

  39. MB

    I think we have to give of ourselves a little bit of wiggle room. We are not perfect and will never be able to live up to 100% perfection. Consistency and moderation is the key. One treat will not undo all the other good decisions you make most of the time. Be kind to yourself and make the best choices you can at the moment. Shoot for progress, not perfection.

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