100 lb. Club - The Perfectionist Trap




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MugCanDoIt
09-01-2009, 05:56 PM
I subscribe to Bob Greenes Best Life Newsletter and today it read:

The Perfectionist Trap

It's great to be conscientious about your diet and exercise sessions, but cutting yourself some slack keeps your motivation high. Try adopting an 80/20 approach—strive to make healthy choices 80 percent of the time; this leaves room in your weight loss and fitness programs for setbacks. Here's how to do it:

• Change your thinking. Don't use the words "good" or "bad" to describe food, yourself or your behavior. These words can promote the unhealthy all-or-nothing pattern you're trying to avoid.

• Establish a range for goals. This allows for more flexibility. For instance, "I'll walk 30 minutes four to six times a week" is better than planning to walk everyday.

• Schedule off days. Take a day off from exercise each week. Use the time to focus on a nurturing activity, such as reading or catching up with friends.

• Enlist help. Consider meeting with a nutritionist, trainer, counselor or coach. They can help keep you motivated and also make sure your goals are realistic.

• Cheer yourself on. Place a note in your bathroom, your car or on your calendar to remind yourself to relax.

• Be patient. Nothing causes more frustration than thinking you should be losing faster than you are. Aim to shed up to 1 percent of your body weight each week, but realize that plateaus are part of the journey.


beerab
09-01-2009, 06:17 PM
Great post thanks for sharing. I think too often we fail ourselves by trying to be perfect and saying "this is too hard" and then going back to our old habits.

TaraLee
09-01-2009, 07:59 PM
I think I'm going to write this out and post it on my fridge...its WONDERFUL advice.
I think all to often we all get in that "all or nothing" mentality which makes minor slips feel like giant pit falls, least to me!
Ty for posting :)


GirlyGirlSebas
09-01-2009, 09:13 PM
I don't know. This is so contrary to how I live my live. I always strive for my absolute best and make no excuses. I find it very difficult to accept mediocrity and anything less than 100% is mediocrity for me. Maybe this is why I've never reached goal or Onederland? Seems to me that changing my thinking about this is so much easier said than done. I'm 45 years old. Old dog, new tricks? ;)

CountingDown
09-01-2009, 09:19 PM
I was only able to lose weight and keep it off once I stopped making timebound goals and expecting perfection of myself.

My mantra continues to be, "progress NOT perfection". Why, oh why to we hold ourselves to standards that we wouldn't DREAM of holding anyone else to? And then kicking ourselves when we don't measure up?

Good ideas, and good reminders. We need to love ourselves enough to treat ourselves the way we treat everyone else!

Windchime
09-01-2009, 09:22 PM
I don't know. This is so contrary to how I live my live. I always strive for my absolute best and make no excuses. I find it very difficult to accept mediocrity and anything less than 100% is mediocrity for me. Maybe this is why I've never reached goal or Onederland? Seems to me that changing my thinking about this is so much easier said than done. I'm 45 years old. Old dog, new tricks? ;)

I think there is a vast, vast area between "100% perfect" and "mediocrity". This isn't to say that we should just shrug, laugh lightly, and skip gaily away when we have a binge weekend or eat like crap for a week. But it also doesn't mean that we should dramatically throw ourselves on the bed, declaring, "It's no use! I've FAILED!" when we eat a brownie, either.

A nutritionist told my mother the 80/20 thing, too. Strive to make the right choice at least 80% of the time. This does NOT mean that you can eat right 80% of the time and then stuff yourself to the gills with candy and french fries the other 20% of the time; what I think it means is that 80% of the time you should make the best choices that you can, but an occasional brownie or fast-food choice is OK in moderation, too. This is how I have lost 45 pounds; yes, it's much slower than those dedicated chicks who are so very disciplined in all areas (and I applaud them!), but this is what works for me and keeps me on track.

The perfectionistic attitude is the number one killer of weight loss goals, IMO. I think that some people (including me, in the past), cling to the notion of being perfect because then when they make an imperfect choice, they get to do what they want, which is go back to the old way of eating everything, all the time.

Windchime
09-01-2009, 09:26 PM
I was only able to lose weight and keep it off once I stopped making timebound goals and expecting perfection of myself.

My mantra continues to be, "progress NOT perfection". Why, oh why to we hold ourselves to standards that we wouldn't DREAM of holding anyone else too? And then kicking ourselves when we don't measure up?



And thank goodness this was/is your mantra. It's one of the first things I read when I came to 3FC and it really resonated with me. Your mantra was what helped me to realize that I was using the idea of "perfection" to allow myself to pig out for the rest of the day (weekend? Week? Year?) after I had made an unwise food choice.

Now I don't refer to it as slipping, or as screwing up, or as blowing it. I refer to unwise food choices as just that--an unwise choice. "Boy, that was dumb--why did I eat that? It wasn't even that good. Next time I'll just stick with my healthy choice instead." Then move on. I log it down and move on. It is what has kept me on track for 8 months, which is twice as long as I've ever stuck to a healthy eating plan in my life.

So thank you, Counting Down. You didn't know it at the time, but your mantra has been instrumental to whatever modest success I have achieved. :)

Serephina
09-01-2009, 09:32 PM
Some more great advise. Thanks Mug!

Arctic Mama
09-02-2009, 01:12 AM
I was only able to lose weight and keep it off once I stopped making timebound goals and expecting perfection of myself.

My mantra continues to be, "progress NOT perfection". Why, oh why to we hold ourselves to standards that we wouldn't DREAM of holding anyone else to? And then kicking ourselves when we don't measure up?

Good ideas, and good reminders. We need to love ourselves enough to treat ourselves the way we treat everyone else!

I second this!

JulieJ08
09-02-2009, 09:28 AM
I don't know. This is so contrary to how I live my live. I always strive for my absolute best and make no excuses. I find it very difficult to accept mediocrity and anything less than 100% is mediocrity for me. Maybe this is why I've never reached goal or Onederland? Seems to me that changing my thinking about this is so much easier said than done. I'm 45 years old. Old dog, new tricks? ;)

I've done that a lot too. I'm finally realizing that striving for perfection in my mind (and getting nowhere in my actual life) is not half so virtuous as crazily and imperfectly *getting something done.* I completely agree about having high standards, I just need to start measuring myself against what I actually do instead of what I plan to do.

LisaF
09-02-2009, 10:12 AM
I think there is a vast, vast area between "100% perfect" and "mediocrity". This isn't to say that we should just shrug, laugh lightly, and skip gaily away when we have a binge weekend or eat like crap for a week. But it also doesn't mean that we should dramatically throw ourselves on the bed, declaring, "It's no use! I've FAILED!" when we eat a brownie, either.

Absolutely. I had to learn to forgive myself and not beat myself up over an off-plan meal/day/vacation. It's not about ignoring what I did, it's about acknowledging the bad choices, learning from them, and then moving on. It's about treating myself with kindness. It's about trying to give myself the kind of advice I'd give a friend in the same situation.

Lisa

shasha17a
09-02-2009, 10:21 AM
I was able to lose a lot of weight with the "perfect" diet. But that didn't teach me how to keep the weight off. I have since been gaining and losing weight back and forth and this time I'm just going to strive to be healthier and not set timelines. For me, eating treats in moderation works a lot better than depriving myself of them for long periods of time.

boomer in paradise
09-02-2009, 10:24 AM
There is an old saying, (from an old chick).

"Done is better than perfect."

LisaF
09-02-2009, 10:26 AM
I don't know. This is so contrary to how I live my live. I always strive for my absolute best and make no excuses. I find it very difficult to accept mediocrity and anything less than 100% is mediocrity for me. Maybe this is why I've never reached goal or Onederland? Seems to me that changing my thinking about this is so much easier said than done. I'm 45 years old. Old dog, new tricks? ;)

Instead of striving for perfection, what about striving for excellence? There's so little chance of sucess with perfection. It's such an either/or thing - either you're perfect or you're not, and there's no room to be anything in the middle.

Think about it this way:
If I was taking a test and got a score of 98 out of 100, I'd call that excellent. I'd be thrilled with that. If I was striving for perfection then I'd have to be disappointed with myself, beating myself up over those measly 2 points that prevented me from reaching my goal. I'd end up feeling bad about what is pretty awesome accomplishment.

Excellence is relative, a veritable movable feast. We get to set our own standards and change them over time. For some people, working out 90 minutes a day, six days a week, is excellent. But they had to work up to that - at one point, working out 30 minutes, three days a week was excellent.

I understand trying to be the best you can be, but I've never met a human being who was perfect, and if that's your goal you're just setting yourself up for failure.

Lisa