The Mindset for Creating Lasting Habits [Better Not Perfect EP01]

Written by Joey Daoud

On February 17, 2020
What is Better Not Perfect video thumbnail with pic of Joey and Dan

In our very first episode of Better Not Perfect, Dan and I discuss what exactly Better Not Perfect means and how it applies to creating lasting habits.


Welcome, everyone, to our first episode of Better Not Perfect. So, we’re gonna do a weekly show, kinda keep it short. A live show, 10 to 15 minutes, talking about topics of health, fitness, nutrition, wellness, I’m Joey. I’m the creator of New Territory Fitness and a documentary filmmaker and co-host here is Dan. Wanna do a quick intro, Dan?

My name is Dan Martin. I’m originally from Waukesha, Wisconsin. I moved down to Miami Beach, 17 years ago and quickly got immersed in the fitness and nutrition culture. I own and operate, three fitness studios and also own and operate a nutrition service called The Dan Plan which is based on the mantra, better not perfect. Thus, hey, we are sitting here, starting the first, Better Not Perfect live video podcast, live stream, yeah man.

So, let’s talk about the name, Better Not Perfect, you work with a lot of clients. You work with a lot of people working on health and fitness goals. So, what exactly does Better Not Perfect mean to you and ways you’ve encountered with other people.

Well, it kinda came about, through the gyms, we had done a bunch of nutrition challenges over the years and what I found was, a lot of times when it was done, either like after 30 days or after six weeks or whatever the time frame was, people would have this extreme fall off and I think it was because everybody was trying to nail it perfectly. And then, there would always be this point when we got done where it’d be like, okay, yay, we’re finished. Let’s go eat cake and ice cream and a whole pizza and ruin all the progress that we’ve made. So, in the past couple years I really focused in on nutrition because without that you’re not gonna get very far with fitness, lifestyle change and all that stuff. And, it just was something that I started saying to people because they’d come to me and they’d be like, oh, I totally screwed up, I totally fell off. I don’t know what to do. And, I would make the comment, better not perfect and then people would be like, oh man, that just makes so much sense to me. Because, people oftentimes have these huge feelings of guilt when they make a mistake or quote unquote mistake or they cheat or they fall off or whatever it is. It’s really about, the whole Better Not Perfect mindset is about embodying the fact that you’re never gonna be able to do it perfect, like life is not something that you’re gonna do perfect, nutrition is not something that you’re gonna be able to do perfectly and as soon as you recognize that and realize that it is about better and not perfect, people start making these huge leaps and start having huge amounts of progress because of it.

Yeah, definitely been stuck in that hole with the mindset of like if I’ve done paleo or some other kind of like diet program or something that I’m focusing on eating certain foods or not eating certain foods and if there’s a mess up or mistake, I kinda get in that mentality of like, well, all right, I had the bread today, so screw it. I guess I’m just gonna throw this day away. And, it kinda gets into that all or nothing mentality instead of gradual improvements or just focusing on something to better not perfect and focusing on, it’s like, all right, maybe this one time, this happened, but it’s like I can still reclaim the day. I can still reclaim the next meal and the next thing that I eat and I have control over that.


So, we could talk a little bit more, so, I mean better not perfect, would you find that also kind of applies not just to eating, but in other aspects in health and wellness?

Sorry say it again. You’re kinda breaking up there at the end.

Okay, sorry, so, better not perfect, would you say besides with eating habits, does that apply to other, like where else would that apply to other aspects in life?

Oh, everywhere, I mean, for me, I look at look at people’s health, fitness, nutrition, all as one thing. You can’t have just great nutrition and not have the exercise component, the sleep component, the hydration component. They all have to work together and you, I find when people have the mindset of just doing something, just getting it done. I was talking to somebody yesterday, what’s up Sebastian, and he was like, man, I feel like I’m not really doing it because I’m not exercising, right, as much as I should be or as much as I want to be. And, my suggestion for him was, today, do 10 squats and do 10 push ups. And, that’s the only box that you have to check, right. It doesn’t need to be this huge, amazing workout that you do. It doesn’t need to take you two hours. You just need to set little attainable goals and when you do that, you’re setting yourself up for success, right. By just checking that box, literally writing it down on a piece of paper, 10 squats, 10 push ups, and then checking that box. It will start to snowball over time. Far too many times people are like, I can’t start an exercise program because I’m too out of shape, right, and just saying that it sounds totally crazy. You know that that’s not true. You just have to start. Go for a walk around the block. Take a Zumba class, whatever it is, people many times are looking for this insane, perfect program that has all these bells and whistles and when I’m like, walk around the block. Do 10 push ups, 10 squats. People are like, , what? That’s all I have to do? And, yeah, that’s really all you have to do is just start. You don’t need to do a bunch of crazy barbell movements or these complex movements or like ruffles and feathers, but all the crap you see on Instagram now, where it’s like these flow pieces and these hyper complex things or these fitness models are like, here’s me doing another trick exercise, like, okay– Great, that’s really cool, but that’s not what people need. People need basics, they need fundamentals. They need foundations and they need to understand that that fitness model on Instagram didn’t get to where they are in one or a hundred perfect sessions. There’s a heck of a lot of mistakes and changing training protocol and changing dietary patterns. Like, for me, it’s been 15 years that I’ve been doing stuff on myself, you know? My path in fitness started 15 years ago with a wake up call and it definitely has not been perfect. I went back and I’ve done a lot of stuff that I wish I hadn’t done. But, each one of those experiences led me to where I’m at now which is getting better and honing it in and doing less, but getting more out of it.

Yeah, when I see like different Instagram posts and other things of like complex kettlebell movements that are like a combination of like, they look more like choreography than just a basic weightlifting movement. It’s like, you know, I feel like it’s more of an Instagram post where it’s to be relevant, they got to come up with some fancy new movement. Besides, because the basics, aren’t that sexy, but they work of just presses and squats and kettlebell swings, just the basic stuff that’s been around forever because it works and then you see these kinda fancy movements and fancy posts and they’re doin’ it ’cause they need a new movement or something to share and it also takes a lot more practice for that.

And, um–

And, if you were to try to do that from zero, chance of injury is probably a lot higher.

You can’t put a 10k run on Instagram and make it look sexy. Right, that’s why I like the barbell snatch and the Olympic lifts, in my mind, gained so much popularity because they’re really easy to film and put on Instagram and they have this wow factor. Right, people are like, wow! You’re doing this crazy thing, you’re like–

Especially like Hook Grip. It’s shot in super slow motion, epic music, you know, like going into battle.

Don’t get me wrong, that stuff is cool and I’m a big fan of all things fitness related. I think a lot of times, in the fitness world, we end up arguing too much about what the best protocol is instead of agreeing on the fact that there just needs to be more activity in general population. We’re pushing towards 50% obesity in this country. I think we’d be better served, instead of fighting about whether CrossFit is the best plan or, you know, periodized strength training is the best plan, running is the best plan. I think we’d be much better served, just to say, hey, move, move a little bit more. It doesn’t need to be the coolest thing. But, yeah, it’s Instagram and Facebook is definitely pushing us towards those cool routines, I guess? Kettlebell, flow, doing it with a barbell–

Primal kettlebell flow .

Unrealistic expectations, anyways, pushing this back to the main point which is it doesn’t need to be that, it can be really simplistic. A lot of times with people, I’ll tell ’em, start walking five days a week, that’s it. Walk on, walk. Don’t even put a watch on. Take a podcast if you want to or even better yet, leave your phone at home and just go out and enjoy your environment and interact with it. But, just move, walk around the block a few times, maybe even talk to somebody, you know there’s so many benefits from getting out, being out. You spent a lot of time at CrossFit 305 in Miami, and a lot of the benefit of those places is that they’re communal and so much–

That is the biggest thing. I’ve been out here now and on the west coast, that’s been my biggest hurdle, ’cause I am doing, workin’ out solo at a gym and just the community aspect, I mean there’s more to the story, but I’m not gonna get into it. But, the community aspect is the biggest thing. It’s one of the biggest motivators to keep comin’ back and the biggest challenges when there is not a group aspect, at least for me personally. I know some people can just kinda toil away in a garage, no problem. But, if you’re kinda coming from zero, the community aspect is huge.

Yeah, I’ve really tried to have that be part of, I’ve really tried to have that be part of what we do online now. You recently joined The Dan Plan paid member group and you kinda see what happens in there as far as interaction and people talking and people understanding each other. One guy might be in Chicago, one girl might be in Los Angeles, but they help each other, support each other, and kinda keep each other on track. Community is a huge part of fitness that, I think, sometimes, is often overlooked, like, we–

And, not just for the accountability, which is a big part, but also, it’s fun and it makes it more fun.

Yeah, absolutely, man, all of the best friends that I have right now that I can think of, like you, Chad, Dom, Alex, K Rock, these are guys that I all met through the gyms through training and we suffered together. We trained hard together, had a lot of laughs together and that only strengthen those bonds. Not all of my friends are people that I’ve met through the gym, I still definitely have a lot of friends from back in Milwaukee and my music days and all that stuff, but there is definitely something to be said for having that community of like minded people who are helping you push towards the end goal which is really live another 50 years, 60 years, I don’t know, if you’re lucky.

And, be functional, not just living, but being able to live.

So, I just picked up my car from the body shop and there was a dude there who was filling up the coffee pot, filling up the sugar thing, probably about 85 years old and he’s pickin’ up the trash and doing little things and helpin’ people out with their cars and he looks at me and he goes, you a runner? And, I go, yeah, I’ve been running a lot lately and he goes, yeah, me too. You know, he’s kind of bent over, but still looks healthy, definitely looks healthy, and he’s like, I used to run every single day from Golden Beach to Dania Beach. It’s good for your head, man. It’s good for your head and I mean–

We have the Raven in South Beach, every single day for 20 years, 30 years, how long–

This guy’s looks like to be the owner of the body shop, right, he’s the owner who’s just in there dickin’ around, keeping himself healthy. Doesn’t need to be there, but he’s mid 80s, still highly functional, you know, and it says a lot. He had an exercise program, still said that he goes out and exercises, you know, still moves around. Still eats well. Once we hit 35 or 40, it’s really all about the decisions that we make. I spent my 20s, making really bad decisions. You know, a lot of people that only knew me in my 20s and now find out where I’m at are like, whoa, dude, what? How’d that happened? You know, slowly, better not perfect. But, it’s all about those decisions that you make as we kind of inch forward, day by day, and that dude at the auto body shop is just proof of that for me, another example.

Better not perfect, cool. I think we should wrap it up there. Any closing thoughts?

No man, I just look forward to doing this more and we’ll put out some feelers for people for stuff that they want us to talk about–

Yeah, leave any comments on this video for future stuff. We can also bring Rebecca, our registered dietitian, in here. So, if you have any questions, specifically, higher level nutrition stuff that a registered dietitian might be able to shed some light on, we can get that on there. Yeah, this was fun, thank you, Dan.

Before I forget, future guests, dietitians, doctors, professional athletes, we’ve got a bunch of people in the works to have sitting either with you or sitting with me. Can’t wait to do more of this, man.

Yeah, sounds good. Have a good week Dan.

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