I have been on a little journey lately of working on ditching my need for perfection. I have always had it, but after turning 40 I realize that I am sick of it. Not that I am going to bore you with the details of my journey but I realized after reading more about this that most of us have some degree of this. Not only that, but it is mostly likely one of the root causes of sabotaging our ability to lose weight or be our optimal healthy self.
It is important for all of us to understand what nutrition plan is the right one for us. It is also important to make sure that hormones that inhibit weight loss. We need to manage our stress, sleep well and make sure that our gut bacteria is in check.
However after all of that happens, people still feel like they haven’t quite found the recipe that allows them to achieve optimal health and weight loss.
This is where I think perfectionism and shame comes into play. If you follow Brene Brown’s work, she is a shame researcher and the author of many books but I think the one that most resonated with me and weight loss was the Gifts of Imperfection.
She talks about once we have all of the information and tools to live in a healthy way, why do we still struggle. It comes down to not talking about the things that get in the way of doing what we know is best for us.
Think about it this way - you are rocking your eating plan only to have the most stressful day of your life. You get a flat tire on the way to work and miss a meeting, the school calls and your child has thrown up and needs to be picked up and you have a huge deadline at work that you just can’t find the time to manage. This is when we start to do the hustle, and we are most likely to open a bag of chips for dinner instead of making that salad.
Brene Brown’s work shows us that this hustle is really our need to make sure that everything is perfect and that we are good enough. You want to be the perfect mother and pick up your child - but at the same time how are you going to do that and also meet all of these deadline. This is where we have the tendency to feel shame. We all have shame, it is that feeling that washes over us and makes us feel sick to our stomach and not good enough.
What I see as a pattern that emerges with food, is that when we get into these states and eat that bag of chips for dinner we feel like we have failed our eating plan. Instead of picking up and moving on, this becomes a “well I have failed anyways I will start again tomorrow...or monday….or after I get back from my vacation.”
Allowing shame to take over continues to perpetuate bad eating choices.
What to Do?
My first recommendation if you are wanting to ditch perfectionism is read Brene Brown’s book the Gift of Imperfection to gain some perspective on shame and how we all use it.
Next, it is important that when we are feeling shame that we label and acknowledge it. Just this morning, I was shaming myself because I forgot my kids indoor shoes on the first day of school. I mean, how could I do this...and there are all of the other mothers looking organized and well put together and now my poor kids are being centered out because I am not organized enough. Then I caught myself...and said what I would say to a friend in a similar situation. It’s really okay, you can just bring them tomorrow.
If we can intentify that we are shaming ourselves, and talk to ourselves like you would talk to a friend in a similar situation, I believe it will help to stop or at least reduce the damage caused by the emotional eating frenzie that usually accompanies shame.
Healthy eating is a journey...please be kind and patient with yourself!