practice makes perfect or perfect breaks practice?

One of my private clients recently hit a 4-day streak with her daily Kinstretch practice -- a goal we have been working towards for the past 2 years. (A proud coach Hannah, here.)

While asking her what she noticed during this streak, some very key insights came to light, and I’d like to share those with y’all.

The first thing she noticed was that her former mindset had been holding her back.

“I kept thinking that if I did my movement practice perfectly, I would become fit and strong IMMEDIATELY! But then it also gave me an excuse to do nothing if I felt I couldn’t do a perfect session.”

Ah, the perfectionist trap! Ready to foil us every time.

But this time, it didn’t foil her. She got down on the floor and did Kinstretch 4 days in a row. She admitted that each session was far from perfect -- she didn’t do all of the sets and reps each time. She didn’t push for as much intensity as she does in our sessions together. But every day she did SOME amount of Kinstretch practice. WIN!

Even amidst a daily success streak, with momentum underneath her, she noticed that the resistance was right there too:

“There was this excuse-making engine that I became keenly aware of,” tempting her to do it later or just get this one other thing done first. “Will that ever go away?” she asked, somewhat exasperated.

“It might not.” I replied. “It might fade away one day, or it might always be with you. As long as you get the thing done, you’ve won! And the more practice you get working with those excuses and finding a way to do your practice anyway, the easier it will get.”

We all know those voices, right? I certainly do. Even as a fitness coach, when I get ready to exercise there is often a voice that pipes up and says put other things first!

The excuse-making engine might always be there -- but it doesn’t have to mean anything about YOU.

That week she had also had the opportunity to go on some vigorous hikes while travelling, and she noticed some major changes in the way her body handled that physical task:

  • Better balance - fewer stumbles on the uneven terrain, less fear of falling

  • More stamina - she surprised herself by hiking longer than she thought she would have been able to

  • No back pain - which used to be a guaranteed outcome of hiking in the past

Lo and behold, even though her Kinstretch practice has been far from perfect over the past 2 years that we have been working together, her body is adapting in meaningful ways.  

I’m glad, as her coach, that she got the real-world feedback that her practice is working. It’s so helpful to see that our efforts are paying off. It’s so easy to discount our efforts, especially when they don’t match up to our perfect plan, and give up on the whole quest all together.

Her outlook now?

“I’m not doing something because I’m expecting a radical change. I’m doing a thing because the thing is worth doing.”

To which I say, A-MEN + Halellooooo!

We tend to OVERESTIMATE what we can get done in the short term and UNDERESTIMATE what we can get done in the long term.

My client’s story is a perfect example of this. She initially imagined that if she did perfect heroic workouts, she would be super-hero fit in 12 weeks. Naturally, that didn’t happen. BECAUSE A) THAT’S NOT HOW THE BODY WORKS, Y’ALL and b) life is always happening all around us, so even the best laid exercise plans always take a hit!

She hasn’t had a perfect practice. But, when we zoom out and look at the long term, she has been consistent. Over the past 2 years, she has stayed committed to working on her mobility and fitness. Yes, in fits and starts. Yes, some weeks she is more on top of it than others, but never the less, she has stayed the course. And her body is rewarding her with noticeable signs of improved resiliency.

Guess what? Your muscles and your joints don’t care if your practice is perfect. They crave nutritious movement and will make do with whatever scraps you give them. It’s ok to start small. It’s ok to do less than you planned.

But keep doing something. And, please, for your sanity, keep track! Over the longer haul, you’ll start to notice your imperfect work paying off, if you pay close attention.

To doing the damn thing,