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Perfectionism: Part One

The Most Common Trait of Chronic Dieters Is…


Perfectionism, according to the dictionary (er… Google) is a refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. And is the most common trait of women who struggle with their diet. 

So many women claim they are ‘all or nothing’ when it comes to their food choices. They either have to do it perfectly, or they rubber-band in the opposite direction because they eventually crumble under the pressure.

No doubt, it feels good to be perfect. Your diet is neat and tidy. You’re in control. You’re ticking off the boxes. But if you want to lose weight AND keep it off, it’s time to stop chasing perfection. 

Perfectionism is detrimental to your goals for a few different reasons:

  1. You’re chasing something that doesn’t exist.

Aiming for perfection is like deciding to have a real-life unicorn as a pet. You’re shooting for unattainable standards. It can be so powerful to let go of our unrealistic beliefs, release the need to be perfect, and celebrate our incremental progress along the way.

  1. It’s extremely stressful.

One of my clients told her counsellor she was a ‘frustrated perfectionist’. Her counsellor replied, “all perfectionists are frustrated”. It’s frustrating, and it’s stressful. It doesn’t feel good because you’re never enough. And once you think you’re enough, you move the goal post. Too much stress will hold you back. Not only is the stress hormone, cortisol, counterproductive to weight loss, but stress is a trigger for so many women to eat or drink. And then there’s the giant shame spiral because of perfectionist standards. When you release this tendency you can relax a little and enjoy the journey; everything becomes more pleasant and peaceful.

  1. Perfectionism is a push goal rather than a pull goal.

In a push goal, you’re trying to get away from something you don’t want. A pull goal is about moving towards something that will feel pleasurable and fulfilling that you will enjoy. Perfectionism is about trying to push away the possibility of judgments and criticism from other people. If you want lasting change, you want to have pull goals rather than push goals like perfectionism. Listen in to Episode 228 of the Fit + Vibrant You Podcast for more on pull goals:

  1. Perfectionism leads to the all or nothing mentality.

“I’ve already had the cookie, so I might as well have the whole box and start again tomorrow”. Logically, it makes no sense, but perfectionism doesn’t listen to logic. It’s not the occasional cookie that derails you, it’s eating the entire box because you had the cookie that does you in. It’s waiting till you’re back from holidays to get on track. In Episode 213 of the Fit + Vibrant You Podcast, I talk about perfectionism and emotional eating:

  1. Perfectionism stops you before you start.

Like I said, most women who struggle with dieting also struggle with perfectionism. Many of my clients don’t want to start using their planner because they’re afraid they’ll do it wrong, or once they start they’ll need to be perfect. Perfectionism can also lead to indecision and procrastination, which will both hold you back from living your best life.

Now that we KNOW (at least logically) that perfectionism needs to go, how do we overcome it? I share some tips in Perfectionism: Part Two.