Breaking the Link Between Overeating and Perfectionism | TMOHP Episode 070

Overeating, emotional eating, and perfectionism have a close, complicated, and completely enmeshed relationship. It’s not helpful. Perfectionism also gets in the way most times we set a goal or set out to make a change. Before you blame yourself, it’s important to know that perfectionism is a very human thought pattern. Impossible to attain, but so seductive to our brain.

There are huge advantages to seeing perfectionism as the unattainable set of expectations that it is - especially if you’re wanting to break overeating habits or emotional eating patterns. I’m working on embracing my imperfectness this year and I’d love to have you join me.

In this episode:

  • The links between perfectionism and overeating
  • Why you’ll probably always have some perfectionism (and it’s okay)
  • 9 reasons to allow more imperfection and tackle your perfectionism this year

Featured on the show:

  • Join me for the free 5-day Freedom from Overeating Workshop for Smart, Busy Women. In less than an hour a day I'll show you how to create freedom from overeating in your own life.
  • Not sure why you’re overeating, or what your Hidden Hungers are? Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz
  • Your Missing Peace  is the program for women ready to stop overeating and emotional eating for good. Enrollment is open and NOW is the perfect time to join us! Go here to learn more
  • Private Coaching. One-on-one coaching is for you if you’re looking for something completely individualized and specific to your situation. Openings are limited. Learn more here.

Episode Transcript

Welcome, welcome back, or welcome to your first episode of the podcast. Take a deep breath. I'm so glad you're here. And I want to ask, how are you? Really, how are you? By the time you're listening to this, it's going to be almost February, and that's if you're listening in real time. And if you're not, don't worry this is all still very relevant. But I just need to tell you, this has been one of the messiest starts to a new year that I have ever had. 

I gave up being a fan of the January New Year's resolution drama, a very long time ago. But this year has been beyond that. It's just been really messy. A whole bunch of stuff caught up with me. And so January has been about taking care of family. It's been about health and health crises and lowering expectations. It's been about going slow. And then when I thought I was going slow, going even slower and catching up on rest. And really practicing, I mean practicing, slowing down my thinking and my brain and doing what I could and what I felt like I needed to do to move out of a crisis mode, a crisis mode that I've been in for a few months.

Because of things that are beyond my control or were beyond my control. My time and my energy have been very limited. Life has been pretty, I would say extremely chaotic, and it has been definitely unpredictable. Now, I'm very relieved to say that this is calming down. Oh my gosh, I am so relieved to say it, but life gets this way sometimes. 

And so anyway, back on January 2nd or fifth, or I don't know when, sometime at the beginning of January. I made the decision that I was going to spend this month focusing on accepting the fact that I couldn't always focus. Focusing on not being able to focus. Focusing on resting. Focusing on being present. And most of all kind of underlying all of that, I was going to spend this month focusing on giving myself that next layer of permission to be imperfect. Which is so funny because as humans, we have no control over our very real human imperfection. Right? But perfectionism and the expectations that we layer on about being perfect, these things are a constant struggle for just about all of us. And this my friends, is what I want to talk with you about today. 

Have you ever considered how much you have lost to perfectionism? How many times maybe you've quit something altogether because you blew it? How much overeating has happened because you "ruined your day?" Right? By eating something you shouldn't have in air quotes, so that all the rest of your plans went out the window. I've blown it. It's ruined. We have to start over. I have to quit. This thing I was doing, all my progress is gone. 

How much time and energy have you lost? How many goals have you quit on yourself over? How hard have you been on yourself? Because in whatever instance, in whatever area, you didn't tick all the boxes. You only got some of them. You didn't get a hundred percent, and so it wasn't good enough. It was ruined. You hadn't done it right. 

Overeating is a common symptom of the overwhelm that is created by perfectionism. And perfectionism can also be a trigger for overeating. It is a big old tangled up relationship. The relationship between overeating and perfectionism is close. It's complicated and it can get, pretty confusing. But when you untangle these things? You will definitely take a slice of your power back. A huge slice. 

If you set one goal this year, and guess what- you get to set a goal any time of year. There's nothing magical about January 1st. If you set this goal today, or six weeks from now. If you only choose to set one goal this year or create one objective for yourself, might I suggest that it be working on taming perfectionism. 

I think this month I stepped another inch off that hamster wheel, and it feels so good. It feels really good when I'm not in that other place in my brain where I'm busy feeling frustrated with myself for not being perfect.

The struggle is absolutely real. I do not think anybody ever perfectly breaks up with perfectionism. Which is entirely okay. Taming my perfectionism is going to be, gets to be an imperfect work in progress. And this is true for every single high achiever I know. I fully expect to spend the entirety of this year, probably this decade, probably the rest of my life, periodically catching myself procrastinating or making something too difficult because of thoughts I have that are based in perfectionism and perfectionistic thinking. And I fully expect to catch myself over and over and over and over again, and then gently talk myself back down to reality. That I get to be imperfect. Which is okay and it's better than okay each time I do it. 

After years of practice, I tend to catch myself much sooner, and I am imperfectly on a good day, much more likely to laugh it off and maybe even make fun of myself a little bit when I catch myself in that ridiculous web of crazy perfectionistic expectations. On a good day. So will you join me in imperfectly saying no to perfectionism this year? Starting today, whatever day of the week today is? 

And in case you need some reinforcement, or maybe you're fully on board, but there's a part of your brain that needs some reminding about this. If there's a part of your brain that's saying, oh, but perfectionism helps me have high standards, or perfectionism has been a key to my success. I would like to present you with nine reasons that I feel are fairly compelling, nine compelling reasons to give up perfectionism. All right, here we go. 

Number one. Perfectionism prevents us from being our best. The idea that we are held to a higher standard because we are perfectionists is a lie. Perfectionist per perfectionism prevents us from being our best. Fear of getting it wrong or failing makes it harder to take risks or dream big, or sometimes even get started.

Number two. Perfectionism leads to weight gain. If this is something that's important to you. I wish we could measure how much overeating happens after somebody decides they weren't perfect enough. After you decide that you've blown it. Right? Everything is ruined, and since everything is ruined, you might as well throw your plans out the window until you can start over. Because the process has to be executed perfectly, and if it's not perfect, it's ruined, and now it's a free for all. 

Number three. Perfectionism kills growth. One of the best ways to improve and to become more successful is to learn from mistakes and from missteps, from things that don't go well. Perfectionism prevents us from looking for the value in what didn't work. You've heard me say this before, but it is so important. Perfectionism shuts down learning. When you shut down learning, you can't grow. If you fall off track or you always find yourself falling off track, like there's a pattern of it, the most important thing that you can do isn't to just keep starting over. That's a hamster wheel. If you're not getting where you want to go, it is so important to explore what isn't working. What's wrong with your strategy? What's wrong with the approach? How is it not working for you? 

When you step out of perfectionism and you decide to see your mistakes or your missteps or things that didn't work as valuable, then you can learn. You can adjust your strategy, you can adjust your approach or maybe your thinking or your schedule or whatever it needs to be so that things work better. 

Number four. Perfectionism kills motivation. That's an understatement. Perfectionism decimates motivation. All or nothing thinking approaches that are either succeed or you've failed, kind of approaches. These things make it very difficult to see or to acknowledge the effort and the steps and the milestones that you are achieving along the way. When you are stuck in perfectionism and all or nothing thinking, it is incredibly unmotivating. There is the starting line and there is the finish, and all the work in between is very hard to see or to give yourself credit for. And seeing that you're getting somewhere is what creates momentum and motivation and inspiration to keep going even when the going doesn't feel so easy.

Number five. Perfectionism can intimidate you so much that you never get started. Perfectionism is a huge reason that people procrastinate. It's a huge reason that we put off taking that next step, or we avoid even thinking about getting started or about, or about even the step before that. We avoid even thinking about what we want. Because perfectionism tells us it is too big or too complicated, or we won't be able to do it perfectly. 

Here's the sixth reason that I really want you to consider working on letting go of perfectionism. Perfectionism creates a ton of negative self-talk. It creates a lot of self-criticism and the self-talk and the criticism, they erode your joy and your energy, and they cause you unnecessary stress. Perfectionism is just plain hard. 

Not only is it hard, but then there's reason number seven, perfectionism and self-compassion? These things work at cross purposes. You cannot be stuck in perfectionism and also be practicing self-compassion for yourself. If you want to build self-compassion, the first step, the very first step is respecting the reality that you aren't perfect and that you don't have to be. So you can actually multitask with this goal. If you want to work on self-compassion, let your first step be focusing on letting go of the perfectionism. 

Which brings me to reason number eight, why it would be helpful to make letting go of perfectionism a goal. Number eight, perfectionism is impossible. You can't do it. No matter how devoted and disciplined you are, no matter how determined you are, at some point you won't be perfect. So wouldn't it be great to have that reality be included in your plans? To just decide, I'm a human being, I'm not going to get it perfect, and I don't have to hold myself to that standard.

Okay, and now we're here. It's reason number nine. Which is a nice unground number to round out this list. Let me tell you a little side note, as part of my journey into imperfection this month, I started a 30 day yoga challenge that started on January 1st on January 3rd. And guess what I'm calling it successful. I mean, who needs 30 days of a 30 day challenge? 

So number nine. I think maybe the best reason of all for joining me in this goal and embracing the reality of your imperfect attempts to get where you want to go is that embracing your right to be imperfect, embracing the reality that you will be imperfect, allows for more ease. It allows for more flexibility, it allows for more joy, it allows for more fun. 

I really hope you will join me in an imperfect, messy year. We get to show up. We get to try our best. And we get to continue forward one step at a time. And if you would like my help and if you would like the company of an amazing group of women who are imperfectly creating freedom from overeating without the diets, without the willpower, without the guilt, and without the perfectionism, then I really encourage you, strongly encourage you to come check out Your Missing Peace. 

Take a look and decide if working with me in this container sounds like a great fit for you. Enrollment in Your Missing Peace is open, and I would love to meet you inside the program.

In the meantime- keep going, be imperfect and have a great day. I'll talk to you soon.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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