“New year, new me!”

How many Januarys have you uttered these clichéd but tempting words? If you’re like me, this profound statement was accompanied by a nearly impossible black-and-white goal. “I will drop three jean sizes.” “I will work out every single day.” “I will never eat added sugar again.”

And then a couple weeks later, you accidentally ate that cookie or you slept through your alarm and missed the workout class. Naturally, all hope is lost. Right? Once you’ve fallen off the wagon, you might as well give up. And you might even spiral out of control.

The Either/Or mentality means you can have to eat healthily every night OR it’s take-out all week. You can go out with friends after work at the expense of your workout OR say no to plans forever. Clearly, this isn’t a balanced way to approach life. How about changing OR to AND?

If you have struggled with the extreme EITHER/OR mentality like me, I challenge you to grant yourself some grace and tolerance. Humans aren’t made to live within an all-or-nothing mindset or stay confined within rigid rules forever. Moderation is as important as forgiving yourself when you slip up.

There is no such thing as a perfect diet or lifestyle, just like there is no such thing as a perfect life. One singular workout does not suddenly make you the epitome of health, just like one dessert will not suddenly make you unhealthy.

Instead of “New year, new me,” we can start saying “New year, beautifully balanced me.” Continue moving your body and eating foods that make you energized and feel good, but also allow yourself to indulge at times. Stop being your own worst critic. If you live your life in balance, you will most likely find that you actually end up making better choices more often.

My 2020 challenge is to live your life, but more importantly, enjoy it.

Sarah Malouf is a Memphis-based health coach who studied at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Connect with her on Instagram at @wellbeing.wellbought or online at Wellbeingwellbought.com.