Why I’ve stopped being a perfectionist – 2 reasons

Interested in ditching that perfectionist mindset and beating yourself up when you fall short? My FREE #EndEatingPerfectionism course is for you. 

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. (here are the exact strategies I used to separate from perfectionism)

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

 

I was trapped by the idea of perfection and didn't know how to get out. (here are the exact strategies I used to separate from perfectionism) 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.

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.

dynamic stretching

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.

These steps are the

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 stopped falling off the healthy eating bandwagon every single Saturday here)

Wine, Protein, Veggies

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 (this is why I felt compelled to create my free training to #EndEatingPerfectionism. See more here).

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.

Why?

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.

end eating perfectionism. learn to stop being a perfectionist and actually get consistent with healthy eating.

And I’m going to show you how. Starting on June 26 (MONDAY!), I’ll take you through a free 5-day training via FB live video (don’t forget to follow me) along with my exclusive nutrition workbook. Every night, at 6pm PDT (replays always available), I’ll walk you through a specific strategy that I’ve implemented with myself and my clients to help them eat well without getting obsessive. By the end of the 5 days, you’ll have the tools you need to get consistent with healthy eating once and for all and ditch the perfectionism that’s holding you back.

Grab all the details and get started here

Conventional wisdom touts the importance of listening to our bodies. I swear, in every single workout video I watch and fitness blog post I read, we're told to "listen to your body." But what about when we have no effing clue what that means? That's why I'm sharing my three best tips to listen to your body, even if you don't know wtf that means.

3 ways to listen to your body when you don’t know how

Conventional wisdom touts the importance of listening to our bodies. I swear, in every single workout video I watch and fitness blog post I read, we’re told to “listen to your body.”

But what about when we have no effing clue what that means?

For years, as I worked through my eating disorder, doctors told me to listen to my body. After being put on bed rest for three days because my heart rate was grounds for hospitalization, I remember my doctor telling me I could do light yoga or go for a walk, if I “listened to my body.” I shifted my weight on that exam room table, hearing the crinkly paper under butt, trying to figure out a way to respond. I realized I had no idea what the fuck it actually meant to listen to my body.

I had gotten so good at tuning out my body’s signals–hunger signals, exhaustion signals–that I couldn’t even hear them anymore.

Sound familiar?

Whether we’re eating disorder survivors, hardcore fitness enthusiasts, or perpetual dieters, we get good at ignoring our bodies. And sometimes ignoring our body’s signals can even help us at times.

Pushing through the discomfort in a tough workout

Ignoring that 3pm sugar craving when we’re trying to lose weight

But what do we do when we’re told to listen to our bodies after years of ignoring them?

Simple.

We start incorporating little actions that (1) help our bodies recover from our intense exercise and attempts at perfect nutrition and (2) help us get just a little more in tune with ourselves. Below are my top three strategies.

3 ways to listen to your body (when you have no idea how)

Conventional wisdom touts the importance of listening to our bodies. I swear, in every single workout video I watch and fitness blog post I read, we're told to "listen to your body." But what about when we have no effing clue what that means? That's why I'm sharing my three best tips to listen to your body, even if you don't know wtf that means.

Get more sleep

The average American gets 6.8 hours of sleep per night (source – Gallup poll) compared to the expert recommendation of 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

And here’s the thing: sleep is soooooo important (love this PN article on sleep) to how we feel every day, our ability to recover from our workouts, and even our body composition.

So, if we don’t know how to listen to our bodies, getting more sleep is a safe bet. Because, honestly, everybody could use more sleep. I prioritized sleep when I had no idea how the F to listen to my body. It was the first change I made. I’ve felt worlds better since getting at least 7 hours of sleep on weeknights and 9 hours on weekends (#grandmastatus).

Eat more protein

Most of the women who come to me for nutrition guidance aren’t eating enough protein to sustain their active lifestyles. So, if we’re having a hard time listening to our bodies, adding more protein is a good place to start.

Protein

Increasing protein intake is an awesome step towards listening to our bodies, because:

  • It keeps us feeling satisfied.
  • It helps stabilize our blood sugar over long periods of time.
  • It’s also much harder for our bodies to turn into body fat.
  • It’s the building block to rebuild muscle tissue broken down by exercise.

If we try to eat some protein every time we feel hungry, we can naturally decrease our cravings, help our bodies build, and stop getting hungry 10 minutes after we finish a meal.

Prioritize recovery

Recovery is super important and super un-sexy, I get it. For those of us who love working out, taking a rest or recovery day sounds awful.

dynamic stretching

The more intensely you are training, the more recovery your body needs! So, really, the less we want to take a day off, the more we need it.

So, if you’re struggling to listen to your body and you’re working out consistently, it’s time to prioritize recovery. Below are my favorite ways to facilitate recovery in my weekly routine.

  • Foam roll tight muscles.
  • Take an epsom salt bath.
  • Practice yoga or meditation.
  • Watch a funny movie (no really).
  • Take a long walk instead of hitting the gym.
  • Rest 1-2 days per week at a minimum.

(I wrote a whole post about recovery a while back. If you want more info on how many rest days to take per week, see here)

Using these three simple tips helped me start to get a little more in touch with what my body needed. Implement them all or try one at a time to listen to your body.

This week, I’m getting super real with my tribe about how I stopped exercising seven days a week and attempting perfect, restrictive eating. So if you want to get up close and personal with me and get my best stuff, join my tribe asap. Let’s talk 🙂

Whether workouts are second nature or we're still trying to build the habit, shortening our workouts can be a game changer. In fact, as a nutrition coach and personal trainer, I find myself consistently telling my clients to workout for LESS time. It's counterintuitive, I know, but this simple shift can be the best thing you can do for your fitness. Below are my top two reasons to shorten your workout!

2 reasons to shorten your workout

Do you think a workout has to be 60 minutes? Or maybe you think it’s impossible to see changes in your body if you’re exercising for less than an hour a day.

Yeah. I used to think that too.

Somewhere along the line, we got it into our heads that an hour of exercise per day was *best.* To be totally honest, I’m not really sure where that came from; the USDA and other government agencies, popular fitness culture, and PE teachers around the world all seem to profess the importance of getting an hour of physical activity per day.

All throughout high school, college, and my early twenties, I went through my life thinking if I didn’t have that hour long workout it somehow didn’t count. Every time I laced up my shoes to go for a run, I’d set that stopwatch for 60 minutes. When I’d search through FitnessBlender’s video archives for my daily workout, I’d mentally tabulate if the videos added up to an hour. As I stepped on the elliptical machine, I’d calculate how much cardio I’d need before starting my arm workout to hit that 60 minute mark.

I felt constant anxiety any time I exercised for less than an hour and constantly thought about how to fit in my long ass workouts.

And let’s be real, this sucked.

Whether workouts are second nature or we’re still trying to build the habit, shortening our workouts can be a game changer. In fact, as a nutrition coach and personal trainer, I find myself consistently telling my clients to workout for LESS time.

It’s counterintuitive, I know, but this simple shift can be the best thing you can do for your fitness. Below are my top two reasons to do a short workout!

2 reasons to shorten your workout TODAY

Whether workouts are second nature or we're still trying to build the habit, shortening our workouts can be a game changer. In fact, as a nutrition coach and personal trainer, I find myself consistently telling my clients to workout for LESS time. It's counterintuitive, I know, but this simple shift can be the best thing you can do for your fitness. Below are my top two reasons to shorten your workout!

You can dial up the intensity

When we have to do a full 60 minutes on the treadmill, it’s nearly impossible to push ourselves to the maximum intensity. From the mental standpoint, it’s hard to motivate ourselves to go hard when we know we have to keep on going for another 40 minutes. And from the physical standpoint, our bodies can’t go all out for long periods of time.

So when we work out for long durations, intensity drops significantly.

On the flip side, when we shorten our workouts, we can work much harder. And honestly? Intensity is what brings the results.

When performed correctly, high intensity training majorly increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption [source]. This means extra calorie burn even AFTER you finish your workout while your body is making up for all the energy it used during your sweat session. Intense training is what gives you the afterburn effect all the online fitness websites reference.

You will be more consistent

If you’re like me, you don’t often have time for 60 minute workouts. However, a 20 minute workout is super reasonable AND effective. If you cram intensity into 20 minutes, you can still get results, because you’re forcing your body to work hard, instead of going through the motions on the elliptical for an hour.

Here’s the thing, lovely. 60 minutes of exercise is great…if it’s doable, stress-free, and fun. But for most of us, that’s just not realistic on our busy (standard) days. 60 minute workouts are for that best case scenario, when we have a day off work, the fur children (kids) are taken care of, and our schedule is wide open. They’re not for Monday mornings when we have a 9am meeting and the dogs need to go for a walk.

If 60 minute workouts are our default, we inevitably are less consistent.

If our workout routines are all 60 minutes long and we only have thirty minutes, what happens? I’ll tell ya what happens….we slip up. We fall into a fuck it moment and tell ourselves “oh well, I can’t do xyz, so I’ll just get back on track tomorrow.” These moments are what make us inconsistent. I am a huge proponent of shorter workouts–not because 60 minute sweat sessions aren’t valuable but because they can hinder consistency and progress.

Before implementing shorter workouts, I’d feel overwhelmed by the amount of time it’d take to complete a workout. On days where I didn’t have at least an hour to devote to working out, I’d just skip it and make myself eat less to “make up for” my missed workout. Now, I’ve cut my workout time in half without compromising results.

If you’re ready to try out some shorter workouts, I’d love you to check out my free 7-day fitness challenge. Over the course of 7 days, we’ll work together to get your workouts short, consistent, and efficient.

How long are your daily workouts?

How to stop falling off the healthy eating bandwagon: 80/20 rule

Want consistency with healthy eating and exercise to be second nature? Follow this system.

Since starting at Google three years ago, efficiency has been the focus. Because of this emphasis on productivity, every time I start a new project, I ask myself the same question: how can I optimize for the 80%?

Why does this matter?

Optimizing for the straightforward 80% frees us to focus on the more challenging (and impactful) 20%. 

[Source: The Pareto Principle]

In any given problem, about 80% of cases will be standard. If we can identify that simple 80% and automate a process around them, we no longer have to work on them. As an example, maybe you work in customer service and you get 100 requests per day. If 80 of them are on the same topic, you can very easily automate a response or create a help center article to answer the question. Once you resolve the 80 simple requests, you can spend time working on the more complicated ones in your inbox. Win win.

On the other hand, because the remaining requests are more complex, they’ll make up the majority of your efforts and outputs. You’ll need to focus more intensely and come up with customized solutions for each one.

By the end of the day, 20% of your requests generate 80% of your work. And if you can automate that 80%, your day becomes a heck of a lot easier…and more efficient.

This sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Because we all want to focus our energies on the things that really matter, the 80/20 rule (or Pareto’s Principle) can be applied to so many areas of our lives. And as a nutrition coach, I’ve realized the importance of using the 80/20 rule in my coaching to help women get even more consistent with their nutrition.

Why apply the 80/20 rule to nutrition?

The 80/20 rule makes us more consistent with food and nutrition.

About two years ago, I signed up for my first online bootcamp. After battling with anorexia for 8 years at that time, I really wanted to change my physique: more muscles and less belly fat (don’t we all?).

I was SO excited. I took my initial progress pictures, gathered all my equipment, and got ready for week 1. But as soon as I opened the nutrition guidelines, my stomach sank. The portion suggestions, calorie counts, and macro breakdowns were incredibly overwhelming.

As I cooked my chicken breast with vegetables on Wednesday of week 1, all I wanted was a glass of wine. In that moment, I was overcome with a feeling of failure and sunk to the floor in tears. All of the counting and measuring made me so obsessive that I again was battling with my ED.  As I leaned against the cabinets in my tiny kitchen, tears streaming down my face, I realized I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t make myself abide by crazy restrictive guidelines without slipping back into ED. So by the next week, I stopped following all of the bootcamp nutrition guidelines to keep myself from getting overly obsessive, restrictive, or super guilty.

If we struggle with ED tendencies or food obsession, the 80/20 rule is the answer. It allows us to focus on the things that really matter, while automating the rest.

Let’s break it down.

Struggling to be consistent with food? Apply the 80/20 rule to your nutrition and get consistent once and for all.

In order to use the 80/20 rule, we’ve got to consider two things: the 80% and the 20%.

Handling the 80: #automatethatshit

When it comes to the standard 80%, we’ve gotta automate. To automate our eating, we create behaviors that are SO automatic that we don’t even have to think about them.

My first suggestion to start automating your nutrition is to be BASIC and focus on the essentials of good nutrition. Instead of counting anything, we focus on just two things: protein and veggies. Every single time we eat, grab a portion of protein and some vegetables.

This super simple strategy makes all the difference, because we’ll be eating lots of nutrient dense and non-calorie dense foods. This will allow us to eat more AND make we you aren’t missing out on any key nutrients. In layman’s terms, low calorie density = large portion size. And large portion sizes keep our bellies happy.

After doing this for a few weeks, we stop thinking about it and the behavior becomes automatic.

We can all use a little help making our eating more automatic, especially in tough eating situations.

Consistency with healthy eating and exercise is really tough. As a personal trainer and nutrition coach, I have women emailing me almost every single day who just can’t seem to stay consistent with healthy eating and exercise. They know that eating healthy and exercising are “good for them” but have a hard time implementing what they “should” do when life is crazy, their schedules change, or their motivation wavers.

Before automating my eating, I ate well all week long but by Friday, I’d overdo it on boozy beverages and treats. All weekend long, I’d feel guilty and disappointed in my lack of willpower. Now, I eat consistently every single day, without feeling anxious about my indulgences.

Consistency with nutrition is hard. We often know what we need to do but implementing it is another story. There are days when we’re really good and days when everything is off. Sometimes nutrition is effortless, but other times, it gets so overwhelming or we get sick of making decisions, so we end up overindulging and feeling guilty later. When these things happen, we feel like there’s no middle ground between restriction and guilt.

But there is.

With lots of experimentation, I found a way to cut to the middle between deprivation and guilt. That’s why I created my #ConsistentNutrition Cheatsheet to help all of us implement the things we know we should do with our nutrition. There are no crazy meal plans or calorie counts, just the handful things you need to implement daily to eat moderately and find that middle between restriction and guilt. Grab your copy now.

Handling the 20: #mindthemiddle

Now comes the fun part: the tough (and impactful) 20%.

When we’re outside of your automated nutrition, we do not restrict or aim for perfection. Instead, we focus on moderation and minding the middle.

To mind the middle, we take each eating situation and pick the moderate option.

As as example, maybe breakfast, lunch, and dinner are automated but that after dinner snack is still tough. In that case, we’d pick an option that’s not the best but also not the worst. Instead of having a bowl of ice cream or nonfat plain greek yogurt, maybe we grab some Halo Top or my chocolate mug cake. 

Is it the best option? Heck no. But it’ll also keep you satisfied and less obsessed with your next treat.

Part of why I love using the 80/20 rule in my nutrition coaching is that it inevitably shifts us away from obsession. When we’re no longer counting, measuring, or analyzing everything that goes into our mouths, what we eat occupies SO much less mental space.

Wanna try it?

Consistency with nutrition is hard. We often know what we need to do but implementing it is another story. There are days when we’re really good and days when everything is off. Sometimes nutrition is effortless, but other times, it gets so overwhelming or we get sick of making decisions, so we end up overindulging and feeling guilty later. When these things happen, we feel like there’s no middle ground between restriction and guilt.

But there is.

And I want to teach you with my #ConsistentNutrition cheatsheet. Don’t miss this. 

If you’re looking for more examples of how I #mindthemiddle,  I’ll be posting on Facebook and Instagram about how I stay consistent during all situations my eating using the hashtag #mindthemiddle. Don’t miss out!

What’s one nutrition question you have?

How I stopped gaining weight on vacation

Happy Boxing Day! I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas holiday and is enjoying this day off with family and friends. We’re soaking up as much time as possible with Andrew’s and my family, including all the doggies as we prepare to head out on our backpacking trip.

While I am preparing and packing for our trip to South America, I’m reminded of how stressful travel used to be for me. Even just a couple years ago, heading out on vacation was a huge stressor and always led to gaining weight. Because I couldn’t with my standard exercise and nutrition routine, I had no idea what to do. I’d either restrict my eating to an extreme degree when I couldn’t exercise OR overeat all the delicious things “because I was on vacation.”

It wasn’t until last year when I moved to Texas and began traveling more that I had to figure out this travel thing. I knew if I didn’t, my health, workout routine, and nutrition quality would decline.

With lots of experimentation, I’ve identified four key steps that make a huge difference in stopping weight gain while you’re traveling/vacationing. My super simple MOVE framework is your guide to maintaining your weight while on vacation.

Read More »

As you swipe through your Instagram feed, you can’t help but notice the dozens of before and after pictures, flat stomachs, lean arms, and shapely legs. Reading the comments, every post seems to say the same thing. Even with all this social proof, as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, I will NEVER preach the clean eating gospel.

Why I’m against clean eating

Spoiler! I won’t teach you how to “eat clean” but if you want to learn how to enjoy your life without falling off track,  New Year, New You could be for you! 

As you swipe through your Instagram feed, you can’t help but notice the dozens of before and after pictures, flat stomachs, lean arms, and shapely legs. Reading the comments, every post seems to say the same thing.

I was overweight and then I started eating clean. The weight fell off!

Before starting to eat clean, I could never attain a six pack.

With clean eating and exercise, I was able to drop to [insert super low number]% body fat!

Even with all this social proof, as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, I will NEVER preach the clean eating gospel.

Read More »

Recovering Perfectionist: Why I Aim For “Good Enough”

Are you trying to be ‘perfect’ with your workouts but find yourself skipping because you can’t make it to the gym? Try out my newest program #SkipTheGym before it launches to the public!

You’re looking for a new workout to try on YouTube. You find one that looks super fun but it requires equipment you don’t have (who really has a dip station at home), so you keep scrolling.

Or maybe, you see a super fun online bootcamp but you see it requires five workouts a week. You’ve got a full-time job, maybe kids, volunteering, a social life, and a thousand other things to do. You’re not sure you can commit to all those workouts AND modifying your nutrition at the same time, so you click away.

If this sounds like you, my perfectionist friend, we need to talk.

Being a perfectionist does not serve you.

Read More »

Moderation defined.

I talk about moderation a lot on Katherine Lynn Fitness. I’m pretty sure it was the topic of my first ever blog post. It’s a personal goal every morning to live my life a bit more moderately than the day before.

But is moderation eating only one bite of dessert a day?

Exercising every single day?

Drinking more water?

Moderation Defined

Even though it’s a common topic for ME, I realized, I’ve never really defined it. I go on and on about living moderately but never took the time to explain wtf I meant. Oops.

Wine, Protein, Veggies

So.

What the heck is moderation?

Read More »

How to Find the Energy to Work Out

Your alarm sounds, it’s time to get up and hit the gym, but you find yourself repeatedly hitting the snooze button instead. Or maybe it’s the end of the work day and you are supposed to go out for a run but all you want to do is collapse on the couch. You have no energy to do anything. 

IMG_2048.jpg

Sound familiar? Yeah, for me too!

This is one of the most common scenarios presented to me as a coach and trainer:

“I have no energy to workout!”

Read More »

Why I’m changing up my training

Happy Monday, my friends! I cannot believe the first week of August has already come and gone. In a few days, I’ll be on the west coast, driving through Oregon, on my way to Mt. Adams for my first big backpacking trip. I’m pretty nervous but also so excited to get out there, get away from the craziness of work and the insane heat in Austin.

With the start of a new month, comes the start of a new training phase. Normally I hit the ground running, 3+ lifting days and 2 conditioning workouts per week. This is my sweet spot. I get enough rest to recover, while also making strength gains.

In July, I stuck to my standard schedule but did some extra leg strength sessions, including high volumes of weighted step ups, with the goal of strengthening my legs and hips for climbing lots of hills. I also incorporated more hiking and incline walking with a weight vest to break in my boots and improve my conditioning.

But since the beginning of the month, I’ve taken a step back, dropping my strength training down to twice a week.

August is going to be different.

Read More »