When I’m trying to build a habit, I give myself some room to breathe. What I aim for with tough changes, like dieting or exercising, is doing the right thing 90% of the time. That other 10% of the time, I slack.

When you acknowledge that you’re not perfect, you can relax a little bit. Splurging on a fresh donut walking around town on a Saturday morning shouldn’t send you into a downward spiral ending with your face covered in chocolate fudge icing from a cake you got at Walmart. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You had a donut, so what? You do the better thing the rest of the time, right? Good. You still rock in my book.

Take my meals today: Eggs and juice for breakfast, leftover corn and grilled veggies for lunch, almonds for a snack, steak kabobs on the grill for dinner. And a Klondike bar. Most of that is paleo friendly, but there is that embarrassing 10% peaking through. Our ancient ancestors aren’t known for eating ice cream squares smothered in chocolate.

I don’t call it cheating. It’s a conscious choice I made. It keeps me sane. It’s not the end of the world so I’m moving on. It doesn’t make my eating habits any better, but it doesn’t hurt them either.

Maybe eventually I’ll get to 100%, but I’m fine at 90%. 90 is better than 0.

Thanks to Jack Danger for introducing me to this idea. I use it for just about everything now. And yes, that is his real name. He moonlights as a super hero.