Should you go all out and then stay perfect forever or else crash and lose all of your progress? Or just be reasonable and aim for sustainable results that allow you to live life and look at feel good too?
My personal preference is for the latter, but ultimately everyone has to make their own decision. When new Dallas personal training clients come in to meet with me and we discuss their goals, I invariably recommend goals that will achieve their desired appearance, performance, and ability goals and yet also allow them to enjoy things they love.
Personally I love pizza. And ice cream. And hamburgers. And milkshakes. :)
But do I have these everyday? Absolutely not.
However, a plan that restricted me from having them at all would be doomed to fail. I would be miserable and being on such a diet would leave me in a constant mental state of deprivation and this would only increase my desire to indulge in these foods and "cheat" on my diet.
Such a strategy is a recipe for failure. Instead of such an approach, I prefer the freedom based approach.
It goes something like this: I can eat anything I want any time I want.
Sounds nice right?
If I want ice cream for breakfast then so be it. but interestingly enough, giving yourself freedom actually typically results in better behavior rather than worse behavior. I can have ice cream for breakfast if I want, but because I know it wouldn't make me feel very good, I don't do it.
Beyond the absurd ice cream for breakfast example, the reality is really that when you give yourself the freedom to choose, rather than forcing strict rules upon yourself, it is amazing what will happen.
You will often find yourself making better and better choices, more and more consistently. This is because you never feel deprived or restricted and thus you are not feeding an unnatural desire for the "forbidden fruits" so to speak. You know that you could eat junk food any time you want, so what's the rush? It becomes easy to say "no I don't feel like eating that junk right now, maybe later." And interestingly enough later often gets postponed for a very very long time as you enjoy your freedom and simultaneously enjoy the results that you are attaining from making good eating choices so consistently. Then your good choices tend to become more and more self reinforcing. It is a beautiful virtuous circle.
So, be a real American, choose freedom and enjoy the results it can bring :)