Why do we feel like we have to jump all in, in order to see results. Why does this especially seem true when it comes to fitness and nutrition? It seems like everybody thinks that you have to constantly do it 24 hours a day in order for it to "work”. This is fundamentally the wrong way to look at fitness and nutrition. (And probably most things in life)
You, like most people, probably got to where you are in wanting to start your fitness and nutrition journey (or take it to the next level) because you don't like where you're at currently. Whether you've been here or not, you want more change. And for some reason it seems reasonable to gain a bunch of fat, or lose a bunch of muscle over a long period of time, but gaining a ton of muscle or losing a ton of fat is irrational if it takes a long period of time. (I.e. It seems like it took a blink of an eye to be 50lbs overweight and unhealthy, but it shouldn't take 1 year to lose that 50lbs.)
Let's put it in perspective. Let's call baseline where you used to be or where you see yourself wanting to go; 50%. 50% represents where you feel best right now, your own personal image homeostasis. Going above the 50% line, represents doing the right things more often than not. Going below the 50% line, represents doing the wrong things more often than not. The right thing being; working out, eating a decent meal, getting good rest/hydration. The wrong things being the opposite. Not resting, not working out, etc.
Let's say you started 10 years ago where you already wanted to be, 50%. and over the last 10 years leading up to now, you were at 60%, meaning you worked out a little more often than not. You ate better meals a little more often than not. You rested well, a little more often than not. You would likely not only look and feel better than you did at your original 50%, but probably be more healthy.
Now let's say you started at that same position again 10 years ago, 50%. But instead of 60% of the time doing the correct thing over 10 years, 80% of the time you do the wrong things. That's 20%. Starting again at 50%, if you did the wrong stuff 80% of the time, you would have had 10 years at 20%. You would probably look and feel much worse after 10 years. And probably be in way worse health than you were when you did the right things more often than not (at 60%). Imagine 10 years. The last 10 years. Imagine 60% of that time you're just a little better. Better eating. Better rest. Better hydration. Better at consistently working out. Now imagine 20%. Over 10 years. Hardly working on you and your health. Never drinking water. Not caring about quality sleep.
In reality, getting to where you want to go has nothing to do with doing everything correctly all of the time. Those who accomplish what they want to accomplish do the right things more often than not, not every single time. There is no all in or all out of fitness. Start focusing on when you do the right things, and give yourself credit, you never used to do any of the right things. Don't sweat it, Just be a little better. Something is always better than nothing.