“Do What you Can” is Not a License to Ignore Personal Responsibility!

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.

One of my favorite taglines is “Do what you can, when you can, with what you have available.” It’s quite clear to me and I know exactly what I mean by that statement. I had lunch with a friend yesterday, though, and we talked about it. It never dawned on me that people might have a completely different understanding than the one I intended.

This is one reason why it’s important to be open to receiving others’ input. This is also the reason I adore friends that don’t just agree with everything I say. Our perception is frequently different than that of others and I value discussions about these differences! I LOVE the ah-ha moments when I can say, “oh my gosh! I never even looked at it that way before!!” I learn in those moments, my mind is expanded, and it’s fantastic to see things from a different angle.

So when I say, “Do what you can, when you can, with what you have available”, what do I mean? Do I mean eat whatever you feel like whenever you want? Do I mean, don’t worry about exercising if you don’t feel like? Do I mean, cut yourself some slack, serious slack: don’t hold yourself accountable for anything, and just be happy with your non-action?

Sure, as long as you understand that doing what you’ve always done is going to give you the results you’ve always gotten, and you’ll need to be happy with that.

If you are comfortable right where you are now (and there is ZERO judgment if this is where you are. Cool!) – you don’t need to worry about changing anything. Be happy!!! Truly. But be aware that you have no right to complain about not meeting your goals. My husband likes Mountain Dew and potato chips. Am I going to consume those things? No. Do I judge him if he does? Nope. I’ve had people tell me that they “can’t believe I let him do that.” WTH? He’s a grown man, he makes his own choices but I do make him accept responsibility for those choices. He does not get to complain to me about gaining weight or feeling sluggish.

If you want to make changes, whatever those changes are (lose weight, gain weight, add muscle, get faster, get stronger, get healthier, potentially decrease medication, feel better, etc.) you are gong to need to change things!!!

  • Increase/decrease the amount you’re eating,
  • Get stronger by exercising, and
  • Improve the quality of the food you’re eating OR
  • Stop complaining. Stop saying you “should”


There are three things I ACTUALLY mean when I say, “Do what you can”

1.  Accept yourself as being human. Stop beating yourself up over having a less than perfect day BUT keep working on making improvements.

Here are a couple of examples. First, many clients come to me struggling to tame the soda sugar monster. Do what you can where you are right now means: decrease your soda by 25% the first week, and by another 25% the second. Keep doing this. Switch from regular to diet. Is it “good” for you? No. Does it have sodium and chemicals in it? Yup. It’s not about perfection. It’s about improvement. Drink a glass of water before each soda you have.

Don’t like water? Yes, it’s okay to put in a little Mio or similar flavoring for a while. Use less next week and less the week after. I’d prefer you drink plain water but if you’re only going to drink water with flavoring in it, drink flavored water.

Can’t seem to break the habit of having a bag of chips after work every day? Buy one individual bag on your way home in the evening – don’t keep them in your house, and don’t buy the super king-sized bag because it’s “a better deal”. Remember my waste or waist philosophy? Try sweet potato, bean, baked chips or pretzels one time. Have chips only 3-4 times this week instead of 5, and reduce that by 1 again next week. If it’s crunchy you’re looking for, try a healthy cereal (measure out one serving – don’t eat the entire box. In that case, you might as well have had your chips). If it’s salty you’re looking for, have a few salted nuts or make some baked pita chips.

Baked Pita Chips

Preheat oven to 375. Cut each pita into quarters and then cut each quarter in half to make 8 triangles.  Place them on a cookie sheet or baking stone and spray lightly with olive oil.  Sprinkle on a little salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, or cinnamon. Bake for about 10 minutes, until crisp, turning once.


2.  Deal with your limitations by finding a way to work within them.

Look, we all have limitations. We’re all busy and we have lives beyond just diet and exercise. Deal with it. Do what you can with what you have.

Can’t afford to buy organic vegetables? Then buy the bagged greens or frozen veggies (no extra sauce or butter). Can’t afford grass-fed, high quality meat? Buy bagged frozen chicken and tell the “purists” to shut up.

You have no time to cook breakfast, or dinner? You either have to make the time by getting up a little earlier or doing a better job of preparing quick things. I make a dozen protein pancakes on Sunday and throw them in the freezer. I can toss them in the toaster oven in the morning, spread on a little peanut butter (or not) and, worst-case scenario I can eat them as I’m dashing out the door to the airport.

Have a protein shake with almond milk, kale or spinach, protein powder and maybe some fruit. That takes a minute to prepare.

I have lots of 15 minute or less recipes on my Family & Fit FB page. The crockpot can be a lifesaver during busy weeks. Again, on Sunday, my husband grills a giant package of chicken and I cut up some veggies. They’re always in the fridge. Do I want to eat that every day? No. But if it’s been one of those days, dinner is already prepared.  FullSizeRender

The kids take up all of your time in the evening and you can’t cook a healthy meal?Have them help you! I haven’t met a child yet who doesn’t love to be in the kitchen. My grandchildren have their own recipe box and one of Hayden’s favorite things to do is search Pinterest for things we can make.  One of his favorites is:

Fish & “Chips”

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a cookie sheet, or line with foil.  Place 2 cups crips rice cereal into a gallon ziplock bag and crush coursely (this is his favorite part and likely why he picks the recipe).  Put this into a large, deep bowl.  Beat 1 e.g. and 1 tbsp water in a separate bowl. Cut 1 pound of cod, haddock, or other firm white fish, into pieces (3-4″ long and 2″ wide).  Season the fish with 1 tsp Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Dip into egg; drain.  Place in cereal and turn to coat all sides. Place on cookie sheet.  Place cut veggies (zucchini and carrots) on same sheet – drizzle with oil and sprinkle with seasoning. Bake 20-25 minutes.  


What if you don’t even have the time or energy for any of this? My friend, Brooke Kalanack, recommends having a few local restaurants programmed into your cell. Places where you know you can get a healthy decent meal (protein and veggies – not a Sonic hotdog and giant shake). If all you can do is call in a pick-up or delivery order, that’s fine. …and then don’t worry about whether the food was cooked in organic oil or not. It’s about making better choices. It’s not about obsession and perfection.

Can’t get to the gym? Do some bodyweight exercises (squats, lunges, push-ups, jumping jacks, etc.) at home. Throw in an exercise video. Chase your kids around the house. Go for a walk. Dance. Can’t do any of that just yet? Do a chair workout: stretch and move every part of your body a little bit. Hold onto your counter and do some small leg lifts or squats. If this is all you can do today, do it. That’s fantastic.


3.  Show yourself some grace and compassion. Rather than obsessing over the end goal, be happy with who you are while you’re working on who you want to become.

My goal is to teach people about health and fitness for their entire lives…..not until they weigh a certain amount; it’s been 8-12 weeks; or any other specific date. Stop the negative trash talk (https://familynfit.com/trashtalk/). If you ate something that wasn’t part of your plan, instead of feeling horrible and putting yourself down, move on. Don’t let that turn into a 3-day binge. Can you do this every day and expect to meet your goals? Nope. But if you make improvements over time, you will eventually get there. Last week you “messed up” 5 times? Okay. Next week, try to get that down to 4. That’s an improvement!

I celebrate holidays and special events with my family. I do eat cake, cookies, chocolate, etc. I am not going to Maine without having a raspberry cream turnover. I go out to eat with friends when I get a chance to do that. I thorough enjoy everything about these experiences. I don’t feel guilty. I don’t try to kill myself with extra cardio….and I don’t want you to either.

Do I eat something “special” every day? No. Does that make me feel deprived and like I should be “enjoying my life?” Absolutely not!! I very much enjoy being fit and healthy! I am a grown woman. I am not a victim. I make my own choices. I can eat whatever I want whenever I want. BUT if I want to reach certain personal goals I’ve set, I have to take action complimentary to those goals.

I have a perfect story about this tip. My sister was at a business meeting a while ago. The company had brought in some coffee and several plates of super large cookies. A co-worker had eaten one or two and said, “don’t tell my trainer that I did this.” I LOVE my sister’s response: “I have lost 50 pounds and I didn’t do that by lying to my trainer, or myself, about what I was putting in my mouth.” Amen!!!!

Do whatever you want, but accept the consequences too. You are a grown up!! Own your actions.

 Do what you can, when you can, with what you have available!!


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