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Breaking the "Perfectionist" mindset

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Old 10-09-2013, 05:59 PM   #1
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Default Breaking the "Perfectionist" mindset

I've always been a bit of a perfectionist, and it's been a real hindrance to my eating 'recovery'. You know: "Oh, I had 2 cookies with lunch. Today was NOT perfect. The day is shot...might as well eat whatever I want and just start over tomorrow." I've worked hard to overcome those thoughts but even now they slip in. I'm on a pretty strict eating and exercise plan, but one or two meals a week I 'indulge' by going to Moe's and getting 2 steak tacos (just the fillings, not the wrap) and 3 oz. of chips. I plan carefully on those days to make sure my calories still stay between 1475 - 1575...but I always feel a lot of guilt on those days, too. "You didn't eat PERFECTLY." "Couldn't you have only gotten ONE taco?" "Better be careful..." and that old bugaboo: "Today wasn't PERFECT. You might as well do whatever for the rest of the day and just start over tomorrow." Does anyone else struggle with being a perfectionist, and do you have any tips on overcoming those negative thoughts? I want to be able to ENJOY a treat once in a while!
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Old 10-10-2013, 12:49 AM   #2
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I'm struggling with "you've already gone off plan for the day, mind as well give up"
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Old 10-10-2013, 08:30 AM   #3
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Yes, I have struggled with "Perfectionist" mindset in weight loss and many other things. For years I have thought of myself as a perfectionist that has failed.

Outside of weight loss, I finally looked around and saw less than perfection work being rewarded. At work I could get so bogged down in a project trying to make everything perfect. Then I would see someone get rewarded who worked fast but, to me, did a sloppy job. I started telling myself that OK but fast was good enough. Now, when I have a project I just have to keep reminding myself that OK is better than taking too long to finish or giving up.

The same applies to my eating plan. I have to tell myself that it is OK if I eat 1300 calories instead of 1200 calories. Or that I have not blown my entire plan if I eat 60 net carbs one day. For me, I just have to remind myself that it is OK not to be perfect.

Ask yourself what you would say to a friend. We tend to be kinder to others than to ourselves.
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Old 10-10-2013, 09:26 AM   #4
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I have struggled many times to lose weight, only to fail. Because I thought I needed to be perfect. Now I know that does not work for me. I can not be perfect, what is perfect anyway?

A few weeks ago, when I was stressing over going to the fair and eating fair food, someone here on the board told me something that I have turned into my mantra. "A piece of cake isn't a deal breaker, it's just a deal slower downer." In my case at that time, it was fair food, but I did allow myself to enjoy some fair food, I did not allow myself to go crazy and eat everything there, and I did not allow myself to feel guilty. Today, my cake will be dinner at Applebees, and that is ok, as long as I don't do it all the time.
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Old 10-10-2013, 09:49 AM   #5
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I hear you. I try to tell myself: "Moderation, not deprivation." But I get so antsy when I eat one little thing that I've labeled "bad", even if it fits perfectly in with my calories. I think I'm going to have to just trust the process. If my weight keeps going down, it must be working. Someone told me a long time ago, "No food is bad. Be good 80% of the time and the other 20% doesn't matter." I would rather have it at 90/10, but you see what I mean!
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Old 10-10-2013, 04:18 PM   #6
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That is what I struggled with first.

Now I'm struggling with the mantra that people keep throwing at me about 'moderation not restriction' because, in order to stop my binges, I've had to give up grains and severely reduce sugar.

It makes me feel ostracized even in a group of people who are supposed to know what it's like to struggle with weight and food.

But that's just my issue right now.

My combatant of the perfectionist mindset was to remember the 80/20 rule.
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Old 10-10-2013, 05:21 PM   #7
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I don't know. I have a well meaning acquaintance who says things like "Everything in moderation" and "As long as you're on plan during the week, you can let go on the weekends". And those plans do NOT work for me at all. I have accepted the fact that I cannot eat certain foods in moderation. I love ice cream, and will eat it every day given the choice. So I limit it now only to birthdays. I love dip. Not chips, but the dip; I don't actually care for salty foods. So I don't eat chips because I know that while I can limit the chips to an ounce easily, I will eat over a quarter cup of dip on them.

On of my bad habits is creeping increments; when I was gaining, there wasn't any one thing that caused my weight gain. It was "Oh, eating a pizza for dinner didn't make me fat overnight, I can do that sometimes." "I drank two cans of Coke yesterday, and I did fine. I guess I can have two sodas per day now." It was never a conscious decision, I just didn't think about how it was all adding up.

So now I have to be hyper vigilant. If I go out to dinner on Friday, I have to make sure I don't decide to go out on Saturday and Sunday on top of it. I have to measure, log and count everything. If I go over by hundred calories I have to make sure I am super on-track the next day so that I don't start gradually eating more and more again. Maybe it's the perfectionist mindset, but it's the way I have to eat now. I have accepted that my relationship with food will never be the same as a person who was never fat; it doesn't even make me angry anymore. It's just the way life is.
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Old 10-10-2013, 08:57 PM   #8
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I don't know. I have a well meaning acquaintance who says things like "Everything in moderation" and "As long as you're on plan during the week, you can let go on the weekends". And those plans do NOT work for me at all. I have accepted the fact that I cannot eat certain foods in moderation. I love ice cream, and will eat it every day given the choice. So I limit it now only to birthdays. I love dip. Not chips, but the dip; I don't actually care for salty foods. So I don't eat chips because I know that while I can limit the chips to an ounce easily, I will eat over a quarter cup of dip on them.

On of my bad habits is creeping increments; when I was gaining, there wasn't any one thing that caused my weight gain. It was "Oh, eating a pizza for dinner didn't make me fat overnight, I can do that sometimes." "I drank two cans of Coke yesterday, and I did fine. I guess I can have two sodas per day now." It was never a conscious decision, I just didn't think about how it was all adding up.

So now I have to be hyper vigilant. If I go out to dinner on Friday, I have to make sure I don't decide to go out on Saturday and Sunday on top of it. I have to measure, log and count everything. If I go over by hundred calories I have to make sure I am super on-track the next day so that I don't start gradually eating more and more again. Maybe it's the perfectionist mindset, but it's the way I have to eat now. I have accepted that my relationship with food will never be the same as a person who was never fat; it doesn't even make me angry anymore. It's just the way life is.
I completely agree! This past two weeks I'd been letting sugar creep back in. It started with some honey every day and then a dark chocolate bar every week and escalated until the other day I caught myself planning to eat half a dark chocolate bar as well as a full serving of honey and I realized what was happening.

The fact is I just don't want refined sugars in any form to be a part of my daily diet and so I decided I am only allowed refined sugars on the weekend and only one serving, end of story. It seems harsh but if I don't exert a little discipline with myself regarding food then suddenly I'm eating all of my calories in the form of refined sugars and I'm starving because I'm not getting any nutrients!
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Old 10-11-2013, 07:19 AM   #9
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thewalrus0, I completely agree. I just can't handle sugar on a daily basis, it's a slippery slope. I used to be the same way and allow myself one serving of refined sugar on the weekend. I don't work out on the weekends, though...just during the week. The combination of not working out and eating sugar didn't work for me. The sugar triggered me to have terrible eating. I had to switch my "sugar day" to mid-week so that I'd always get the sugar post-workout and be more likely to be in a better frame of mind to handle it. So far that's worked for me.

Funny thing - I've noticed that I didn't use to have a very discriminating palate - if it was sweet, I would eat it - period. But since I've started limiting my sugar so much, I've realized that I really can pass up "subpar" sugars (to me) like cake, pastries, store-bought stuff, etc., in anticipation of my ONE high-quality choice during the week. I enjoy it so much more than the endless pile of sweets I used to eat without tasting. That doesn't mean that I still don't struggle with wanting multiple helpings of that special treat, though!
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Old 10-11-2013, 09:15 AM   #10
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I do believe in "everything in moderation"... BUT, there are some things that I just have to say no to... most of the time. Peanut butter is one of them. Just smelling it makes my mouth water, it used to be nothing for me to eat a whole jar in a day or two. My kids eat peanut butter almost daily... I have had to learn that I can not just lick the knife.. it causes a binge for me. I can not have even a taste unless it's a day I feel I'm already in good control, because afterward I have to be super strong.
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Old 10-11-2013, 09:47 AM   #11
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findingfawn, have you tried PB2? It's powdered peanut butter that you rehydrate with water. Apparently it has just a tiny fraction of the fat and calories that come in regular peanut butter. I actually have some here at the house but haven't tried it yet...not much of a peanut butter person!
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:15 PM   #12
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Any nut based food can cause me to binge. I don't eat nuts much either because they make me want more and more. I have considered trying the PB2, but afraid it will cause the binge effect too.
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Old 10-11-2013, 02:00 PM   #13
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I totally understand...I'm the same way with "light" ice cream!
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Old 10-11-2013, 04:40 PM   #14
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I think there's a difference between what I think of as a slip in hyper-vigilance and a failure in perfectionism.

For me, hyper-vigilance means that letting down my guard, things sneak back in (refined sugars, carbs, whatever I might be avoiding as a trigger). Perfectionism is a mentality of failure, "I ate something I wish I hadn't so I might as well give up" or "I didn't go to the gym yesterday so I won't go this week."
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Old 10-11-2013, 05:47 PM   #15
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Hi. My name is Rhonda and I'm a sugar-a-holic. Seriously, though....there is no such thing as moderation with sugar and starchy foods for me. One bite and I'm in full-on craving mode. It's just not worth it for me. I can be moderate in everything else, though.


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At work I could get so bogged down in a project trying to make everything perfect.
Boy, can I relate to this! Sometimes, the minor changes or updates I stress out about tend to be so very time consuming and are things that no one else but even sees. I spend so much time on one project that I end up working extra long hours to complete my other projects. Talk about job stress and burnout! My mantra has become 'pick your battles.' Sometimes the payout isn't worth the added stress and angst. Do what is necessary and required then move on.
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