I had the most powerful “Aha” moment a few weeks ago. As I sat down in the living room, John was watching a documentary on NBC called, “Anything is Possible- The Series” about Chris Nikic, an American amateur triathlete. On November 7, 2020, he became the first person with Downs syndrome to finish an Ironman triathlon. The film follows Chris through his grueling experience of participating in an Ironman. Watching him overcome his struggles and his own desire to quit was utterly inspiring. I was moved by his tenacity and his undying commitment to completing such a tough race. There was something so beautiful and powerful watching this young man take himself on, in what I can only imagine, must have been one of the most difficult endurance races known to man.
I was struck by the power of the phrase, “1% Better,” that was mentioned in this film. It speaks to the exponential growth that is possible when we focus on striving to be just a tiny bit better today than we were yesterday. It reminded me that the most impactful competition is with myself and no one else. In what ways could I improve my life a little bit each day? My first thought was that I could eat 1% more healthy each day to eventually lead to returning my body to a healthy state. Weight loss was a big part of my desire, but it wasn’t my only motivation. I really wanted to overcome my very own personal “Critic” that shames and belittles me. This inner critic holds me back. She lies to me by telling me what I want to do is impossible, too hard, not going to work…shaming me into believing that there are too many pounds to lose, too many cravings to fight, too hard.
Watching Chris cross the finish line, with tears in my eyes, I promised myself that I would also commit to being 1% better every day. One day, I thought, I will cross the finish line of my personal goals too. So, I commit to be 1% better than I was yesterday. This empowering mental game has supported me when I crave that ice cream sandwich at 9:30pm or when I look in the mirror and feel disappointed because I’m not already wearing size 8 again after only 4 weeks of healthy eating. I say directly to my own face, “1% better today.” I am eating 1% better than I did yesterday. I must pass this weight in order to get to my target weight. The small changes in my weight and the reshaping of my body are physical manifestations of this new way of thinking. I can choose to be my own worst critic, my own worst enemy… or I can choose to be my biggest cheerleader. I can choose to encourage personal success, or I can hold myself back with shame. Today, I choose to be 1% better.
I learned 1% better was coined by James Clear. He talks about continuous improvement on his website: https://jamesclear.com/continuous-improvement
“What is Continuous Improvement?
Let’s define continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is a dedication to making small changes and improvements every day, with the expectation that those small improvements will add up to something significant.
The typical approach to self-improvement is to set a large goal, then try to take big leaps in order to accomplish the goal in as little time as possible. While this may sound good in theory, it often ends in burnout, frustration, and failure. Instead, we should focus on continuous improvement by slowly and slightly adjusting our normal everyday habits and behaviors.
It is so easy to dismiss the value of making slightly better decisions on a daily basis. Sticking with the fundamentals is not impressive. Falling in love with boredom is not sexy. Getting one percent better isn’t going to make headlines.
There is one thing about it though: it works.”
It’s been 28 days since I began to focus on healthy eating. I’ve lost 12.6 lbs in that time. My clothes fit differently. I notice small changes. I am inspired to eat 1% better today. I grapple with my inner critic still, but when she shows herself to me, I choose not to believe her. I choose to accept that she is there thinking she is protecting me. I remind her that I have nothing to lose by trying to be 1% better today.
This link is a preview of the documentary. I hope you take a minute to watch it. Maybe Chris can inspire you to meet your personal goals by practicing being 1% better too. You never know what you can accomplish until you set your mind to do so.