Perfectionism is my M.O. It’s always been. From the time I was a kid in grammar school to my first day at Google, trying to be perfect at whatever I was doing was my goal. I would always get the A, make the team, get the job, and be the best.
And if I wasn’t? I wouldn’t do it.
I remember one time in high school when I was working on a paper. Sitting in the library with a bag of trail mix on the corner of the desk, I feverishly wrote my “rough draft” of my paper. This paper had just been assigned the period before lunch, and the perfectionist student I was believed that I had to complete the first draft ASAP so I could spend the rest of the week getting it reviewed by my teacher, editing it multiple times, and making it absolutely perfect. Even though I had plenty of time to write the damn paper, I still skipped lunch to indulge my perfectionist beliefs.
I was trapped by the idea of perfection and didn’t know how to get out.
Lovely, this was my reality for as long as I can remember. But recently? I’ve ditched perfectionism in favor of “good enough.” And there are two main reasons why.
2 reasons I’ve stopped being a perfectionist
Perfectionism forces us to disregard the progress we’ve made
When all we think about is perfect, we belittle progress. We belittle the changes we’re making that are getting us where we want to be.
When I first started as a trainer and coach, I was super guilty of this. Even though I’ve ditched perfectionism in many areas of my life, I would look at pictures of myself (PS. I’m talking even more intimately about perfection and sharing my most recent progress pics with my email buddies this weekend. It’s probably the most vulnerable email I’ve ever sent. Get on the list here if you wanna read it), and nitpick them apart until I was in tears.
My arms look flabby.
I’m nowhere close to a six pack
My legs have cellulite.
I’d constantly compare myself to the other coaches and trainers out there, believing I looked nothing like the (perfect) trainers I saw on Instagram. This attempt to reach perfection made me completely ignore the progress I’d made and the reasons I should be coaching.
I disregarded that I’ve started squatting 1.15x my bodyweight.
I’d ignore the fact that I’ve coached dozens of women in the last year away from restrictive and obsessive eating and exercise patterns.
My recent chin up progress (5 reps stringed together on a good day!) meant nothing.
These things are super important. But if I were super focused on perfection, I wouldn’t even notice or care about these things.
Perfectionism makes us think in black-and-white
By looking at ourselves as perfect or imperfect, we perpetuate a mindset that makes us think in black-and-white. We only see perfect vs. us. If we continue as a perfectionist, we imprison ourselves into this false dichotomy where there’s only the perfect ideal and everything else that doesn’t measure up. We start thinking that we’re either Karena and Katrina from Tone-It-Up or we’re a piece of shit, because perfectionism doesn’t let us see that middle ground. And let’s be real, recognizing that middle ground is what helps us make progress. (See how I stopped falling off the healthy eating bandwagon every single Saturday here)
During my 10+ year battle with anorexia, I could only think in black-and-white. My brain literally could not see the shades of grey in between.
There was only that 90 minute BodyRockTV workout and sitting on my butt.
I either ate lunch and felt super guilty about it or I didn’t eat and felt in control.
These were my only options.
And by continuing life as a perfectionist, we don’t allow ourselves to see the moderate options in between perfect and imperfect.
How you can stop being a perfectionist, too
I hate to break it to you, lovely, but perfection doesn’t work, because a) no one can actually do it, and b) it perpetuates feelings of inadequacy that only lead us to eat more crap, and taking us even farther from our goals. Perfectionism is a myth, and is doing all of us a disservice.
Perfection is impossible.
Perfectionism sets us up for failure.
Aiming to be perfect is super stressful.
“Perfect” really is unnecessary.
And honestly? It ultimately leads to obsession, restriction, and guilt.
Thankfully. There’s another option – consistency and support. If you want a bit of help with consistency, get started with my #ConsistentNutrition cheat sheet.