Progress, Not Perfection

Enjoying a Mother's Day meal with my 90-year-old father and older siblings. My mother was recovering from a broken hip and wasn't able to join us. My father and mother lived to their 90s eating fast food burgers and fries, drinking martinis. slapping butter on vegetables, and enjoying Boston Cream Pie!

Enjoying a Mother’s Day meal with my 90-year-old father and older siblings. My mother was recovering from a broken hip and wasn’t able to join us. My father and mother lived to their 90s eating fast food burgers and fries, drinking martinis. slapping butter on vegetables, and enjoying Boston Cream Pie!

I don't just eat fast food, I don't even get out of my car to get it!

I don’t just eat fast food, I don’t even get out of my car to get it!

I think readers should know right now that I watch my weight. I work daily to keep it where I am most comfortable. That means I monitor what I eat and I have to tell myself (often) “you’ve been sitting too long. Get up and do something active!”

I think you should also know that I care about health and I’d like to live a long, healthy, productive life, but I am not consumed by health. I am no poster child for healthy eating. Michael Pollan doesn’t want to sit down to share a meal with me and I’m sure even watching me eat some of the things I eat would horrify him. I’m doing better than I used to with food choices even if I’m not obsessed with “eating 100% healthful 100% of the time.

You’ll see me at the fast food restaurants. I’m the one who picks up the fruit and vegetables that aren’t marked “organic.” I do eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, though, and certainly a lot more than I used to eat.

I don’t check labels for sodium content or even added sugars. Sometimes I will read the label to see if my crackers have trans fats in them because I do prefer the fat that nature created. I even drink diet colas and yes, I do pay attention to total calories. I do like whole grains!

I think I represent a good chunk of the adult population in Maine. Despite my average (what some may deem unhealthy) eating habits, I manage to stay lean and my habits are healthier than they used to be. I want to encourage anybody who has struggled with weight and who can’t just get on the healthy bandwagon and stay there, to focus on progress, not perfection.

I’ve seen too many people try to manage their weight by avoiding foods processed with added fats and sugars. They try to eat fewer carbohydrates and only complex carbs when they do. They eat fish but yearn for beef, they eat mashed cauliflower in lieu of mashed potatoes, and they stay away from all dairy. They undertake an aggressive, albeit short-lived, workout program. They follow the advice of Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle like it’s a religion. And for most, their weight loss is temporary because they can’t continue to live like monks. There are a few who can sustain that lifestyle but in the world we live in today the odds are against us!

I, on the other hand, believe that food is pleasure and exercise should also come in the forms of pleasure. I believe that we are created to do what’s fun and to eat what tastes good and the world keeps creating more and more of those good-tasting foods! That creates a bit of a challenge for a sedentary, food loving person like me. If we were to talk about my default behaviors (what I do when I’m not paying attention) in terms of all or nothing, they would be a big, fat “nothing”. I’d do absolutely nothing to promote better health or a leaner body. I’m not one who can stick to an “all” plan. I’ve got too much fatalist in me. Yes, I’m aware that there are chemicals and preservatives and artificial colors in my food. Yes, I know that some fear artificial sweeteners and many fear sugar as much as the fake stuff. I also know that I can live a miserable life, spend all my time running away from “junk food” and trying to eat only what’s “healthy” and it’s no guarantee I won’t get sick and certainly not going to stop me from dying one day. So, I want to enjoy my time here on Earth while taking care of myself without letting caring for myself take over my life.

My blogs are not for the super-fit and the devoted to optimal healthy lifestyle people. I want to help people like me who want to improve their bodies in a kinder, gentler, more sustainable fashion. To those of you who want your fast food and goal weight too, I say “Progress Not Perfection!”

Playing with these two beats working out at a gym. I don't have a gym membership but I'll never say "no" to whatever game these two want to play. This is my kind of exercise!

Playing with these two beats working out at a gym. I don’t have a gym membership but I’ll never say “no” to whatever game these two want to play. This is my kind of exercise!

Rockin' on the beach! I have trouble motivating myself to move but I take advantage of the motivation that comes my way!

Rockin’ on the beach! I have trouble motivating myself to move but I take advantage of the motivation that comes my way!

Better than a treadmill! This guy won't stand for being placed in the corner and covered with clothes. He makes me walk no matter if it's rain or shine, hot or cold!

Better than a treadmill! This guy won’t stand for being placed in the corner and covered with clothes. He makes me walk no matter if it’s rain or shine, hot or cold!

A visit from this guy will keep me moving an hour or so after he's gone - just picking up after him!

A visit from this guy will keep me moving an hour or so after he’s gone – just picking up after him!

Getting some "resistance training!" I had to jump pff the seawall to get a bucket somebody threw into the cove. At low tide this muck gives me resistance at every step.

Getting some “resistance training!” I had to jump pff the seawall to get a bucket somebody threw into the cove. At low tide this muck gives me resistance at every step.

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.