I used to love little quotes that said “good is the enemy of great” or something to that effect. I have always thought if you are going to do something you might as well do it all the way. I’ve never been good with grey… it’s either black or white. It’s right or it’s wrong. It’s all or nothing. And while that could seem like an admirable trait to some, it can actually cause more harm than good.
This is how almost all my attempts at a “diet” have been, going all the way back to those pre-prom dress shopping days in high school. I would start off all motivated and excited and then I’d get to lunch and have a fry… or all the fries. Then I would figure since I already messed up I should have ice cream. and the snowball continued. This trend was pretty standard for me. I’d start something new… Weight Watchers, HCG, Low-Carb, Paleo… and then I would slip up and that one little slip up turned into the rest of the day… the rest of the day would turn into the week and so it continued. When I started my Health Journey just after having my daughter in 2010 things changed a bit. I had a deeper source of motivation and will power. I would stay “strict” for a lot longer and felt good and saw results. A more strict plan is what I needed at that time. As I dove further into the world of health and fitness I became so overwhelmed. There is so much information, often information that contradicts each other. Eat this, no don’t eat it. Coffee Causes cancer, oh no it helps you live longer. There is an information overload which often leads to panic and inability to act on anything. I did my best, but felt so confused half the time. Living my journey for the online world to see made me feel pressure to be “perfect” and have it all figured out. What I forgot was I started this blog because I wanted to show other women that you don’t have to have it all together… that you can be a real person and not perfect and still make progress.
As I continued on whatever plan I was currently following I would still have “slip ups” but instead of just saying forget it and continuing the binge I found myself in what I would consider an even more dangerous place… guilt. I had a hard time enjoying favorite foods and family gatherings. Occasionally I would have the “Screw it” mindset and go off track. But guilt still showed up in full force when I would try to to get on track.
[Tweet “Your food choices don’t make up who you are #wycwyc”]
So I went from one end of the spectrum to the other but I still struggled to find balance. I believe in moderation I just had a hard time actually putting it into practice. I was so focused on being perfect that I didn’t allow myself to be ok just doing my best in that moment. Simply put, in real life there is no way to be perfect all the time. So expecting that out of myself set me up for some major problems. I was basically inviting guilt and shame to live with me. While I never thought I had a specific eating disorder I do believe I had Disordered Eating Habits. I obsessively weighed and measured my food, I only ate the same “safe foods” over and over again, I weighed myself not just daily – but multiple times a day, and there was a long list of good and bad foods. The more I stressed about being perfect with my nutrition the less results I saw. I was stressed and felt like I couldn’t realistically live like this.
I began to feel alienated and alone in my struggles. Everyone else seemed to have it all figured out. Then I came across the hashtag #wycwyc (What you can, when you can) This explained what I longed for my entire nutrition philosophy to be like. I wanted the freedom it gave me the permission to have. Being in the health and fitness industry not just with my blog, but with owning a gym, I feel huge amounts of pressure to be perfect. The reality is life isn’t perfect. Life is made up of a bunch of moments, both perfect and far from it, and all we can do is what we can, when we can.
If that means a few more nights out to eat because it’s busy season with your business, then so be it. It means skipping the rolls so I can have dessert. It means enjoy life’s perfectly imperfect moments and being ok with it all. Because I can’t control it. I can do my best. And sometimes that may mean measuring food and skipping treats depending on my goals at the moment. It could also mean having a pumpkin pie blizzard just because. It doesn’t mean I get a free hall pass to do whatever I want, whenever I want. It means I’m doing the very best I can do in this exact moment. That may be better than I was yesterday, or not as good as I was yesterday. But it is being content with making the best decision for my physical, mental, and emotional health in that second.
So, maybe you are like me… a former, or current, perfectionist… If so, stop. Take a minute and breathe. If you are looking for permission to NOT be perfect, here it is. Know that weather you eat a salad or a burger doesn’t make you a better or worse person. Your food choices don’t make up who you are. Enjoy life and it’s little moments, especially when those moments include the occasional donut. Do your best, even if it isn’t what you think is perfect. Your job is to be your best. To be excellent. To be you. Not to be some social media filtered version of perfection.
Have you ever struggled like this? Remind me I’m not alone!
What Does #wycwyc look like for you?
14 thoughts on “Speaking Out Against Perfection”
Well said. Life is made up of the imperfections and the trying to make everything work together. Perfection isn’t natural. We try to be perfect because like you said, it’s what we see in the media. I think as long as it’s the exception and not the rule that someone is “cheating” on their diet or fitness, it’s totally ok if not even a good thing!
Great point, Chris! I don’t want to go back to being 260lbs so I do my best to keep those treats at a minimum, but I still enjoy them!
I guess I am just too busy living my life to worry much about what I eat. I work hard (preschool educator) play hard (just finished my 120th triathlon) and have to omany interests besides food to think too much about it. I eat when I am hungry, until I am full and then move on. Don’t buy junk and rarely if ever succumb to dessert. I am turning 61 in a couple of weeks and still weight 127(ish) when I weight myself (which is only at the Drs office as I don’t have a scale. Had no idea there were women out there who put so much emphasis on diets/food/looks. Just do what you love and the rest will come easily…..my opinion anyway.
I’m glad you have had such an easy time not getting caught up in the crazy game. It’s been a battle for me! Keep doing what you’re doing if it’s working for you!
I love that quote!
It’s one of my new favorites! Such a wise man!
Right there with you! I’ve done weight watchers, strict paleo (whole 30), and now trying to balance working far from home (at an elementary school- candy is EVERYWHERE!!) while feeding both myself and my very-active-high-metabolism husband. I’m struggling to give up the “all or nothing” perfectionism mentality.
Why is it so hard to not be perfect? LOL. You’re doing great! Just keeping doing the best you can do, you’re a rockstar!
Most people struggle with this to some extent especially when we’re bombarded with all these illusions of perfectionism & how its “totally doable” news flash-it’s not & it’s not healthy! Thanks for sharing your experiences!