If you are a follower of nutrition, health and fitness, chances are you are very familiar with perfectionism – it is everywhere in the diet world and looms large in people’s mind when it comes to weight and its loss. So many people are looking for the perfect body, perfect weight, perfect diet, the perfect nutritional system, and more. It seems like such a high-level approach to life – just do everything perfectly and we will reach that pinnacle of success.
Unfortunately perfectionism isn’t all it’s cut out to be and it does have a toxic side to it that can be quite debilitating and often overwhelming. It can taunt us, set us up for constant failure, and keep us in a perpetual state of never feeling good enough about who we are, how we eat, and what we look like.
So how do we even come to be in this situation of the need for perfection around food, body and diet? Why do we have it? How can we overcome it to get to the point we are perfectly imperfect?
For some, perfectionism in food and body feels like the only way they will achieve their goals. The diet industry is very good at convincing us that in order to lose weight, we need to stick to rigid plan that doesn’t leave much room for error. That if we don’t stick to the perfect diet and exercise regime, we will never get the body we desire. But here’s the thing -
Perfectionism is like a virus that does very little good for the up-lift of the human body.
It’s the kind of virus that lives in our mind, that says, “I must eat perfectly” for which the outcome is often a constant source of stress and fear. The virus of perfectionism is very adept at fooling us into believing in the false religion of being perfect.
If you’ve battled perfectionism, then you know that it’s not easy to overcome. That’s because, it’s quite powerful and quite seductive. After all, who wouldn’t want to be perfect?
But around the corner from perfectionism is self-abuse.
That’s because “the state of perfect” doesn’t actually exist. It’s a fictional destination, because when we put all our efforts into perfect eating, perfect exercise, and following our diet perfectly – eventually, we will stray. Flawlessness is an unsustainable state. I don’t know a single person who’s ever been able to permanently stay in a state of flawlessness and when we do fall out of the perfect state, this often results in some version of self-attack, self hate, and self criticism. It might even result in a binge in shame for how hopeless we are at sticking to the perfect diet.
Perfectionism has the habit of taking us out of real life and into a state of strict rules and stress.
Whilst most end up in disappointment that despite our best efforts we haven’t got where we want to go, there are those that may succeed and achieve their perfect weight or create their perfect body, only to find themselves living in a constant state of anxiety for fear that they will lose their perfect achievement and feel immense pressure to keep these perfect results. Let me tell you that is a very tough and stressful place to live.
Perfectionism is a lonely place, we are often isolated from the rest of the world, often closed off from truly living. If perfectionism is something you struggle with in the world of mind, body and diet, if you are tired of the constant struggle to adhere to the lofty rules that govern your life and you want to start to live again, here are some practices you can take a look at:
1. Focus on progress not perfection. The journey to having the body you want is all about progress – consistency, putting one foot in front of the other. It isn’t about unsustainable extremes. It is about slow progress in the right direction, often with a few detours along the way. Those detours are important, as that’s where the learning happens.
2. Ask your friends and family if your perfectionism impacts them. If they say yes, request that they tell you honestly about the details of how your perfectionism shows up for them. Ask for their advice on how you can improve here.
3. Let go of perfectionist rituals. Do you constantly weigh yourself? Count calories and fat grams way too often? Do you look in the mirror and quickly launch into criticism? If so, practice waking up, and start catching yourself in the act of trying to be perfect. Gently let go of the inner self-talk – notice when it happens and look at how you can speak in a kinder, gentler, more supportive way.
4. Live life more. Have fun. Put your attention back to the things that truly matter most.
If this is something that resonates with you and you would like to talk this through further, please click on my contact page for a FREE 15 minute consult. I would love to help you get where you want to go without the need for perfection.