Uproot Overwhelm and Overeating and Unleash Your Inner Champion.
February 12th, 2014,
People worry about stress eating or eating because you are bored. People know that they go out with friends and ruin their weight loss plans on a basket of tortilla chips and a few margaritas, but when the word perfectionism comes up, many women smile, nod, and say, “I can relate” without giving a second thought to how perfectionism may be sabotaging their goal to weigh less or take control of emotional eating.
In our culture, perfectionism is often something to be (almost) proud of. It can mistakenly be associated with having high standards or aiming for quality results. Unfortunately, perfectionism actually limits success, and it’s a major cause of emotional eating and overeating. Perfectionism (also called all or nothing thinking) can sabotage your efforts to change your eating and will actually undermine your progress.
It would be fascinating if we could accurately measure the number of extra calories a dieter takes in after that moment when she decides that “it’s no use, I’ve blown it!” Perfectionism is the belief that if it isn’t perfect (one hundred percent, exactly up to expectations, no mistakes or slip ups), you’ve failed or it’s no good.
With eating, this tends to show up like this: you eat “perfectly” all day (adhere to a strict food plan that is often too restrictive) and then fall off track at the end of the day. A perfectionist sees the misstep as “blowing it” and the day as a failure. She gets frustrated by her “lack of willpower” and often continues past that initial misstep to overeat or make more poor choices because “it didn’t work” “the day is ruined” and now she “has to start all over again.”
Much of the time, the calories eaten after deciding that imperfect equals failure are often more than the misstep that led you to believe you failed.
Perfectionism leads to thinking that it’s all either good or bad, a success or a failure. When you focus on only one of two results, the large gray area in the middle is overlooked. The problem is that this area in between is the place for making peace with food and ending emotional eating.
“Why was I so hungry?”
“Why did the food seem so compelling even though I wasn’t hungry?”
“How come today was so much harder than yesterday?”
“What did I do that was working and where did things fall off track?”
These questions allow you to learn from experiences and make adjustments so that you can continue forward toward your goals.
Perfectionists don’t tend to learn or grow from mistakes. Instead they see them as failures and may even feel like failures because they made one. Starting over and “banishing” the mistake can become more important than using it to move forward.
When you get stuck in perfectionist thinking, a mistake “ruins” everything. It’s as if by eating that piece of cake, you slide all the way back to start and all your earlier efforts and great choices that day have evaporated or count for nothing.
Perfectionist thinking is a recipe for never feeling good enough. Why? Because nobody is perfect. Even if you attain your impossible standards for a short period of time, eventually, you’ll miss the mark. With perfectionism that means quickly switching from doing great to having failed.
Perfectionists focus on the distance between where they are and what they define as perfect. Within this mindset, it’s easy to see all the flaws but almost impossible to take credit for the (imperfect) progress, good choices, and effort you are making. If it isn’t perfect, it just isn’t good enough because you haven’t succeeded yet.
A perfectionist mindset, never feeling good enough, and not seeing the progress that you are making, is a powerful trigger for overeating. Eating for comfort, eating to avoid your thoughts, or eating out of frustration or guilt or shame can all be triggered by a perfectionistic mindset.
First, don’t get all perfectionistic about it! Expect this to be a journey of trial and error. As a recovering perfectionist, it’s best to keep it simple, so start with these three steps:
What tricks and tips have you found to recognize and address perfectionism in your own life? How and where does it tend to trip you up? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Take good care,
February 6th, 2014,
When you aren’t achieving what you want to, whether because you can’t seem to get started, or because, in spite of your best efforts, the results just aren’t showing up, it’s discouraging.
Lots of people set out to lose weight or get more active at the start of the year. Many women want less stress or better life balance. And, February is a time of year when many acknowledge that even though they had plans, the scale hasn’t budged, they aren’t any fitter, and stress and overwhelm are still too high.
Being disappointed in your results can set lose a Pandora’s box of feelings and reactions that feel awful and can make your results even worse (ever thrown yourself a junk food fest after you got really mad at yourself for “blowing” a diet?).
We high-performers can be especially hard on ourselves when we don’t stick with the plans we’ve designed or don’t achieve our goals.
We trash talk ourselves (“I’m fat,” “I’m just lazy.” “I have no discipline.” “I can’t believe how stupid I was to take that doughnut without even thinking about it.”).
We punish and deprive ourselves and in general, we can get stuck thinking a lot of things that leave us feeling bad. Let’s be honest -
Just in case you are recognizing yourself (even a smidge) here, don’t let this set off another wave of self-disappointment or shame.
It’s okay. This can be the moment when you do it differently.
Are you ready to use your lack of results as fertilizer for something better? Here’s the first step to take.
When you are disappointed in your results, the first thing to do is to stop yourself from jumping down the rabbit hole of guilt, blame, and shame. Whether you aren’t seeing results from your hard work or you are realizing that you just can’t seem to even get started or stick with your mission, the blame and guilt game won’t serve you at all. It’s a deep dark place that will just keep you stuck.
Stuck is not where you want to be. So take a deep breath (do it with me now). Look down at your feet and make a decision. Where do you want to step next?
The truth is, you can be stuck or you can be moving. You can freeze or you can run in circles, or you can move angrily backwards, farther away from your goal than you are now.
Or, you can take another deep breath and take one solid step that takes you closer to where you want to end up.
Take it now. Don’t wait for Monday or next month or the next full moon. Look at your feet. Inhale and exhale. Take the next action. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Throw out the rest of the candy bar in your hand.
Start brainstorming how you can get more support.
Drink a glass of water.
Ask yourself what there is to learn from your lack of success so far.
Do what you would do for anyone else whom you were supporting.
Change is possible. Results do happen. But you have to climb out of the shame/blame/guilt hole to take the next step.
Take good care,