Chasing Perfection

Those of us in the fitness industry spend a lot of time talking about what to feed your body. Rarely do we talk about what to feed your mind.

As you know by now, I believe that the first step in changing your body is changing your mind. When it comes to fitness, there are a number of ways we sabotage our success, but over time I’ve discovered that this always begins in the mind.

As women, we consistently sabotage our efforts to make healthy changes by feeling guilt when we don’t measure up to certain expectations. But where do these expectations come from?

Why is it that you believe you NEED to be two sizes smaller than you are right now? Why is that you think you need to look a certain way before you can wear a certain kind of outfit? Why is it that you feel guilty after eating pizza and drinking beer? Why is it that you think you have no self-control?

Let me ask you this: Are you devoted to celebrity gossip magazines? Do you read fitness magazines thinking that the articles and info in there will motivate you to get in shape? Do you look to celebrities for inspiration and fitness advice?

The messages that we receive through the media have created in us a culture of unrealistic expectations. Every time we pick up a magazine we feed our mind. Every time we turn on the television we deepen our beliefs about what we “should” do or what we “should” look like without even realizing it.

We are trapped in a world of perfectionism.

The trouble is, we believe that perfectionism is motivating and we believe that chasing it will give us the will-power that we need to attain it.

This is absolutely false. Chasing perfection will never work. We’ll defeat ourselves before we even begin.

Perfectionism reinforces an “all or nothing” attitude toward health & fitness. If we continue in this way, we’ll continue to start and stop diets, workout religiously for a few weeks and then “fall off the wagon”, eat “good” for a few days and then binge on ice cream, etc.

Perfection cannot be our motivation. It. Will. Not. Work.

This is an issue near and dear to my hear. I gave up magazines all together for a few years because I couldn’t read them without feeling fat, frumpy and inadequate. I know this may not be true for everyone, but it was true for me. Thankfully, I’m now in a healthy frame of mind and can read them without internalizing the messages they send so I’ll indulge from time to time….but I know my limits! And I want you to know yours too.

I’m not telling you to give up magazines and TV and I’m not saying that they’re inherently bad. But I am encouraging you to become aware of the messages that you are allowing to enter your mind on a daily basis. We’re all going to be affected by different messages & mediums so it’s important for you to know what YOUR “weak spot” is. There is a healthy balance to be found.

Let’s keep the discussion going. Post a comment and tell me your thoughts 🙂

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2 Comments
  1. Tracy 8 years ago

    Still struggling daily with my “perception” of how I “should” look. I am in taekwondo with all three of my kids – this has helped. I truly feel powerful and appreciate what my body can do. I am probably in better shape at 46 than I was in my twenties. I was an overweight kid – and I don’t think you ever get over what other kids say and do to you. Inside, I am often still that kid needing approval. Will I ever be 100% happy with my body? Probably not, but at least I appreciate it more now than I ever did.

  2. Lara Dalch 8 years ago

    Hi Robin.

    I couldn’t agree more. The pursuit of perfection derails so many amazing people, forcing them into an almost masochistic frame of mind when it comes to food, exercise, and their bodies.

    One of the most common challenges I work on with clients is shifting the feeling of being “on or off the bandwagon” to one of understanding that daily food choices are only part of an ongoing “sliding scale,” one that doesn’t include the words “good” or “bad.” Each choice fits into the bigger picture of our lives and doesn’t ever have to inspire guilt.

    For example, I ate a bunch of cookies last night. I paid for it this morning when I woke up feeling sluggish and barely made it to my spin class on time. But I don’t feel a shred of guilt about my choice – I wanted cookies in that moment, so I had some cookies. I’m not restricting my diet today; I’m just making choices based on how I want/need to feel today.

    Great post. Thanks! 🙂

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