Perfectionism and overeating often go hand-in-hand. Especially for smart, busy women.
Overwhelm is one of the biggest reasons busy women overeat. When you’re overwhelmed, it’s so easy to reach for food – for comfort, or a quick break, or a treat.
One of the traps that creates overwhelm for busy high-achieving women is perfectionism. Especially an unrecognized version of perfectionism that often gets mislabeled as laziness or not caring enough.
Perfectionism can sneak up on you in surprising ways. Of course, you’re probably already aware of situations when you can get nit-picky and perfectionistic in your thinking about things and where this type of thinking might slow you down or get you stuck. There are other ways that perfectionism shows up that you might not be aware of.
Two ways that perfectionism can impact your overeating, emotional eating, and your attempts to lose weight:
1. All or nothing thinking (otherwise known as I might as well just finish this bag of chips)
Have you ever “blown” your diet? That’s falling for the perfectionistic belief that if you haven’t done it perfectly, you’ve ruined it. Maybe you had a great day of healthy, balanced eating – until dinner when you overeat. Perfectionism shows up when you tell yourself that now “it’s ruined,” and since you’ve already ruined things, you might as well just finish that bag of chips too.
This is the kind of perfectionism that sabotages you when you’re out for dinner, or you’re traveling, and, because you’re going to eat outside your usual plan, you decide that you might as well have that extra bread (and the appetizer) too.
2. Creating expectations that are too big or too “perfect” (so you might as well wait and start on Monday)
This type of perfectionism often gets mistakenly labeled as laziness or a lack of motivation or caring. In reality, it’s the opposite. You set yourself up to be sabotaged by perfectionism when you create a set of expectations for yourself that feel too big. Maybe you don’t believe you can accomplish them, or maybe they exceed your available time and energy, or maybe they aren’t sustainable. The important thing to understand is that when your plans make you tired just thinking about them, or they seem too difficult to even wrap your mind around, you’re likely to have a very difficult time getting started.
Procrastination can be caused by perfectionism. Both contribute to the overeating hamster wheel.
These two types of perfectionism, all or nothing thinking and expectations that are just too big, can reinforce each other and create major overwhelm and stuckness for smart, successful women who are struggling with overeating.
When you feel like you have so much that you need to accomplish that you can’t even conceive of having the bandwidth to get started, or when it feels like there is no room for error or missteps, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed before you even begin.
What usually happens then, is that you shut down and never start (or maybe you perpetually plan to start next Monday), or you dive in and try to create fast results in such a big dramatic way that it feels exciting for 24 hours, but can’t be sustained.
Feeling like you are on a hamster wheel with weight loss might be a symptom of perfectionism.
How to start breaking patterns with perfectionism that are sabotaging your success
Your mission – if you’re up for the challenge – is to start breaking ties with perfectionism in the next twelve hours. Start now and start small.
Instead of creating a list of all the things that you need to do or all the steps you need to take to get to your goal, I want you to ask yourself a different question. Don’t put this off – take a moment to ask this question right now.
Right now, today, in the next twelve hours, what would it take for me to get one-half inch closer to where I want to go?
What could move the dial just one notch closer?
Ask yourself this: What is something I will actually commit to doing in the next twelve hours?
If you don’t know, give yourself time to answer the question. Make sure it is one hundred percent do-able. Don’t worry about it being too small. You are seeking to move the dial ONE notch. Your mission is to move forward. The distance you move isn’t the point.
Once you have your thing – do it. Take action.
Take a step in the next twelve hours. Take a step forward and use that to build momentum. Rinse and repeat. Have a misstep (or eat too much at dinner)? That’s part of life. Simply look down at your feet and plan your next do-able step and keep moving forward. You’ve got this!