Weight Loss Support - Pressure and perfectionism...how do you cope?




sidhe
02-07-2009, 03:23 PM
Several thoughts I'm trying to sort through, and what better way than by writing them out?

The first thought is related to something someone said in a post...something along the lines of, "every second of every day is a chance to make a good choice or a bad choice." The entire concept of being "good" or "bad" EVERY SINGLE SECOND of EVERY SINGLE DAY makes me feel almost hysterically anxious. I have this huge knot in my stomach (where I carry my stress) at the thought that I'm being judged every single second, that I could be judged for every single thing I do, and that I am never safe within myself. I can't stand the pressure. There is always the expectation that I make the right choice. If I'm not actively doing something to further my goal then I'm not living up to my potential, and if I'm not putting everything I have into it then I'm going to fail at some point. I'm bad, and wrong, and a slacker because I'm not actively trying with everything I have every single day. If I make other choices, no matter why I'm making those other choices, then I AM BAD AND WRONG. The pressure makes me want to hide in bed and cry, frankly. I'm coming to realize that I just can't live with that kind of expectation. I can't carry it. I can't sustain it. I'm such a perfectionist that I just can't bear up under it. I need to find a new way of approaching this. I need to come up with some way that I AM OKAY if I'm just doing my best.

How are you handling this? How do you think of your choices? Are you able to accept that you are "doing your best", and if so, HOW are you able to accept that? Do you believe that pressure and perfectionism is necesary for you to achieve your goals?


CousinRockingChair
02-07-2009, 03:38 PM
This is a very good post, and I think it'll stimulate some good discussion.

This is a pattern in other areas of your life, right? How do you experience that..at work, in relationships? Do you think you deal with those areas okay? How do you do it?

You're the only one who's judging you here (duh, but felt I had to say it), but it might not feel like it. I certainly relate - I too am a bit of a perfectionist, Type A personality, you know, "Got to have it all done by yesterday, get out of my way everybody, either-its-great-or-its-a-disaster" sort of person. A bit black and white.

The quote from the signature I think people like ourselves might take a bit literally or in a masochistic way. I'm fairly sure, after thinking about it, that it just means

a) be mindful about what you're doing, try and look after yourself
b) every moment is a second to start anew, and help yourself be The Best You.

Everyone makes lousy, stupid choices sometimes, hard as it is for the perfectionist to accept. Both on a small scale - "oops, I shouldn't have had the extra slice of cake, now I feel a bit sick", - or the larger scale - "Yeah, I'll stick this crappy relationship out". We mess up, a lot. If you ever meet someone who says they don't, they are a liar.

Some people hate pressure, and some people thrive on it. I moan about how much work I have to do in my degree program (we do it in 2 years at uni, not 3) and then I also have a job and blah blah, but when I do get a rare holiday, I feel very lost indeed! How do you feel when you get a chance to relax..can you do it?

I'm asking more than I'm answering, I know.

Personally, I do have to have a bit of pressure to make me me, but I get the darker side of it as well. I have done - objectively - fantastically academically, but I quite often get very upset by how stupid I feel. That's drive gone too far, I reckon. It's all about balance. Do you have a "balancer" you can talk to? Mine's my boyfriend - he reminds me when I'm, um, not thinking straight, and reminds me I'm NOT ugly or stupid or whatever.

You don't sound terribly secure with yourself, as you said, afraid! How well do you know yourself? What are your strengths? For a start, you're obviously intelligent. You don't seem to have much faith that you can succeed in looking after yourself or succeed in general though..but I bet you could think of when you have done both, and maybe draw on that.

Finally...you could always be doing worse. Always. So could everyone else.

aneleh
02-07-2009, 04:11 PM
Technically I don't think I am "doing my best". If I was, I would be eating OP 24/7 and always exercising when I said I would. Actually I only stick to my plan 80% of the time. I'm okay with that because it saves my sanity! If I mess up, I just figure out what went wrong and if it could be avoided, then I MOVE ON. I found trying to do everything perfectly led me to be obsessive and scared of small missteps, to the point where I was miserable.


saef
02-07-2009, 04:46 PM
From one self-defeating perfectionist to another:

When I was in a master's degree program for poetry, sweating out every assignment, I was amazed by the productiveness of the California poet Gary Snyder, who wrote a poem a day. Someone asked Snyder how he could do this. He said: "I lower my standards."

I approached dieting & becoming healthier that way, since my perfectionism about this issue many years ago had led to an eating disorder. (Anorexia is about **always** remaining vigilant about food, with an iron self-control.)

I didn't set any goal weight, first of all. That would be leading me to numbers madness, where I obsess on scores, grades, accumulating. I made it my rule that I'd weigh in once a week, and my goal was this: "A little less than the week before." Whatever the number was, I'd take it. That meant tuning out when someone told me they'd lost five pounds that week or when the Biggest Loser contestants lost nine pounds. My loss might only be a half pound or a pound. That was all right: The rule was, as long as it was a little less. Over time, I figured it would start adding up.

Time is, after all, our big problem. Because we're looking further ahead than the very next moment. We may know we can do it in the next moment, but when we think about this whole week, this whole year, or (*gulp*) forever, we're terrified we can't measure up. The way to do this is, in a way, not to think ahead. To take it minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Can do you do this for the next hour? Okay. Good. Now, can you do it just for tomorrow morning? Better. Just keep your eyes slightly in front of your feet while you're walking -- do NOT ever look ahead at the horizon & how far you have to go. That could end up paralyzing you.

I hope some of this resonates with you. I hope I don't sound like a wannabe Zen master. I think there are all kinds of perfectionists. For my kind of perfectionism, thinking very small really helps.

JayEll
02-07-2009, 04:51 PM
Do you believe that pressure and perfectionism is necesary for you to achieve your goals?

Absolutely not. Perfectionism is a poison. It is also an excuse and an easy way out.

I think I may have been the one who said "Every second of the day is an opportunity to make a good or bad choice." With the statement taken out of context, you might think that I believe in an absolute "good" and "bad." But the context has to be included, or it's just a meaningless, judgmental statement.

There is no absolute good or bad. It depends on what you are trying to do. That's the context.

If you want to keep a job, choosing to go to work when you're supposed to is "good." Choosing to skip work with no notice is "bad."

If you want to lose weight, choosing to eat lean chicken, vegetables, and a salad is "good." Choosing to eat a half dozen donuts is "bad."

Perfect does not exist. If it did, we would see it in nature, and we don't. Perfect is an idea that people can imagine, or think they can. It's really rather delusional.

Doing anything does mean effort, including losing weight. One has to go beyond "try" and actually "do." "Do" means stick to the program. "Do" means following through and making choices. Perfectly? Probably not.

Or maybe it would be easier just to give up and hide under the blankets and eat chocolate... Yeah... that's it... so if one can't be perfect, then there's no use trying. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.... (NOT.)

Perhaps you can ask yourself, "What am I getting out of expecting perfection from myself?" What's the reward? Is there a payoff? Does it repeat a family pattern?

Jay

murphmitch
02-07-2009, 04:54 PM
I think the idea of "perfectionism" spills over in to more than just eating. I tend to be this way with work, cleaning my house, balancing my checkbook and even grocery shopping. It's sort of like OCD, doing certain things makes me feel more comfortable, less anxious. Having "control" over things, having things run smoothly calms me.

It's even this way with eating, although I think eating a healthy diet makes me indeed feel better, as does exercise. When I do fall off plan, I tend to overdo and have binges. I have a problem with all or none, good and bad. Once I eat something "bad", I usually eat all kinds of stuff the rest of the day. It does make me feel out of control. I have always struggled with this. As long as I can get back on program the very next day, I can maintain my weight. It's always lurking in my head that I may not be able to do that, as it has happened in the past. I've been maintaining my weight for almost a year, so hopefully it will stick with me for good.

I don't feel that others are judging me though. You have lost a lot of weight and should be very proud of yourself. I think you are a role model for others. Try not to be so hard on yourself. Counseling might help you to figure out why you do this. :hug:

plum
02-07-2009, 06:14 PM
just remember that this is your you, not anyone else. you're the only judge of "good" and "bad," and a little "bad" every now and then can help you keep your stress down. (like a hershey's kiss reward after a big workout.) there's no deadline for losing weight, so as long as the overall work is good, you'll be fine.

don't forget to de-stress once in a while, whether that's a massage or a run or a manicure, or even just a few hours of doing absolutely nothing.

(in my personal experience, there more i focus on what i eat, the more i crave the "bad" things. it's that "forbidden fruit" mentality that gets to me)

we're here for you. :] message me if you need anything.

midwife
02-07-2009, 06:40 PM
I have so gotten over a perfectionist mentality. And it has been the best thing ever.

Good enough is good enough. Perfection is impossible.

Interestingly, weight lifting has been one of the ways I have gotten over perfectionism. I would get so frustrated that I was struggling in the gym. It was hard to get those last reps. I felt like I should be able to do each set and each rep with perfect form and a smile on my face. Well, I'll tell you that when I would do each rep with perfect form and a smile, my trainer would increase the weight until the smile was gone and I was struggling to make it through the set. But the weights I could lift perfectly did NOTHING to make me stronger. Struggling, fighting, failing a bit and trying again---those are what made me stronger.

That is true for life as well.

No one has all the answers. No one has it all figured out. The mom who you think has a perfectly clean house, well, sometimes her kids make messes too. To be real, to be human, is to be imperfect.

CountingDown
02-07-2009, 07:11 PM
I have so gotten over a perfectionist mentality. And it has been the best thing ever.



OH, I am so in tune with this. Perfectionism is what foiled every attempt in the past.
Go on diet.
Make bad choice.
or even worse - make all good choices and STILL not meet arbitrary goal (which was probably unrealistic to start with)
Consider self a failure.
Go back to old ways.

Repeat cycle.

For the first time EVER, this has been a journey, not a diet. And a journey has nothing to do with perfectionism. It is a path wrought with twists and turns - good choices and bad. And those far wiser than me have said, "progress, not perfection is the goal".

teawithsunshine
02-07-2009, 07:16 PM
sidhe--

I've read 2 of your recent posts (including this one). I'm sorry to see that you're feeling anxious, stressed out, or concerned about numbers.

Honestly, dump the mentality and just focus on your goals.

Like for instance, start running for thirty seconds or one minute during your exercise routine this coming week and then slowly build on that per week as your goal.

You need to stop listening to that negative voice in your head, it'll only cause you unnecessary stress and frustration in your life.

Have you thought of taking yoga, tai chi, meditation, listening to classical/new age/rock music or take kickboxing classes in order to help you improve your perception of yourself?

I think if you learned how to breathe and relax in the comforts of your own body, it'd really help you in your long term goals: be it food, losing weight, or meeting your exercise goals like running :)

Hope this helps!

Thighs Be Gone
02-07-2009, 07:32 PM
I'm not stressed about it. This is a journey and I have accepted it too. It isn't a race, it isn't a destination--a journey. Sometimes the path gets steep, sometimes you tumble down, sometimes it is windy and curvy. Just go with the flow. Make health your priority and your success will follow.

bunny43
02-07-2009, 07:42 PM
My two cents:

I too am a 'perfectionist'. I am also a people pleaser and do not want to disappoint others. I sometimes feel 'people' are looking at me and judging the way I look etc.

My therapist said this to me and it's really stuck: He said, people look at you, then go back to their business. You are just in their line of vision so to speak. Know one is judging you.

Since he said that, my 'paranoid' thinking of people judging me has lessened quite a bit.

futuresurferchick
02-07-2009, 10:43 PM
A few of these wonderful ladies have already said it so eloquently but just to emphasize the point: Perfectionism is the enemy of weight loss, and a lot of other worthy pursuits. I've had to learn to get rid of that mentality. It does not serve you in any way. It paralyzes you.

What's so great about having a perfect, smooth-sailing weight loss journey? Where's the glory? It's not only impossible, it's not satisfying either. The point is to get up when you fall down and keep going.

Extreme perfectionism stopped me from losing weight for years. As soon as I did something that I deemed "bad" in any insignificant way, I'd throw in the towel and think "what's the point, I'm just going to screw it up anyway." This self defeating thinking never got me anywhere. In fact if you ask all of the people on 3FC who have had ANY measure of weight loss success, I'm sure they will all say the same thing. Forget about being perfect, it's not gonna happen, and that's a relief. :)

tkm256
02-07-2009, 11:51 PM
I was heavy despite my relentless pursuit of perfectionism until one day I met a boy who said "You're hot; when do you want to get married?" Since I've been told my entire life that I'm not good enough, I discovered then that I was trying to perfect everything (grades, character, body) to gain the approval of people who, beyond giving me some genes and a house to live in, were not terribly interested in being involved in my life. Once I accepted that this boy didn't need me to be perfect, I noticed nobody around me cared either--I just thought they did. It's like that study they did about a hypothetical situation in which you leave a library and set off the sensors at the door; some huge majority said they were sure most people in the library would think they were deliberately stealing a book and condemn them, whereas that same majority said they wouldn't think the same if someone else was in that situation.

Perfect isn't only self-destructive, it tends to drive people away.

Windchime
02-08-2009, 02:47 AM
But the weights I could lift perfectly did NOTHING to make me stronger. Struggling, fighting, failing a bit and trying again---those are what made me stronger.

That is true for life as well.



This is such a great post, and it reminds me of my favorite quote:

"Any man can work when every stroke of his hands brings down the fruit rattling from the tree....but to labor in season and out of season, under every discouragement....that requires a heroism which is transcendent." -Henry Ward Beecher

It's the struggle that makes us stronger and helps us to succeed. The struggling, the falling, and the learning. It's not always fun DURING the struggle, that's for sure; in fact, it can be quite disheartening. But that's how we learn to get stronger, to make better choices, and to become successful.

JayEll
02-08-2009, 07:48 AM
Hey! I found my original post that contained this sentence:

Every minute of the day, you have a choice about what you will do.

I think it's interesting, sidhe, that you remembered it as being good versus bad, since that's not what it said.

A choice is just a choice, and as I said earlier, and whether it's "good" or "bad" depends on the context. The thread in which I made that statement was about a 3FC member who was unable to exercise due to an injury and was going to have to use a wheelchair for awhile. Her response to this was to get in the car and drive to fast food places and ice cream stores. :dunno:

It's here if you want to read the thread:

http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=163746

Jay