Do You Suffer from Perfectionism? How to Develop a Healthy Mindset
Allow yourself to fail if you want to achieve optimal health. A lot of us suffer from perfection. We want to do things perfectly, or we get frustrated and we might not even want to do them at all. If we do not do things perfectly, we might start judging ourselves and be very hard on ourselves. We forget that we are human.
If you are going to do something and work towards a goal, you are going to make mistakes, especially along your health journey. You are going to mess up at times. It is not that hard to cut out a lot of the processed foods, especially if you have to for health reasons. But if you had to cut out something that you really loved in the past, you might give in to temptation at times and be angry with yourself, or you might skip it, and feel miserable.
It is very easy to set up a bunch of rules to follow when trying to become healthier, but the more rules you have, the more opportunities you have to mess up. I do not recommend that you have more than three goals that you trying to achieve at once, and you can add more over time. This will help you not get overwhelmed and give up.
The aim is not to be perfect. The aim is to change over time and make the habits automatic. It is not going to be like that at first, but over time, it will become a lot easier. When you quit sugar at first, and you go through that initial withdrawal, your willpower will be tested greatly.
Imagine you are at a dinner party and someone brings out ice cream or cake, and you want to say no, you desperately want to say no, but then they ask you if you want some. You could:
feel mentally strong that day, say no thank you, and feel proud of yourself;
be impulsive, and in the moment, say yes please, eat the dessert, and feel guilty for the next two days; or
you could make a conscious decision to eat the dessert, enjoy it mindfully, and not feel guilty about it.
The first and third options are both perfectly okay. Accept and eat the cake or the ice cream if you want to and if you feel like it will be worth it, enjoy it, and move on. We believe in following the 80/20 rule, or if you want to be stricter, the 90/10 rule. This is where you eat healthily 80% or 90% of the time, and allow yourself to indulge 10% to 20% of the time.
If you do struggle from perfectionism, and you obsess about being perfect with your diet or with your workout programme, even though you still mess up, so you are upset with yourself, but you know that you never do things perfectly or stick to things 100% when first trying to change them, why not accept that and why not say “ok, I will allow myself to mess up and to indulge, or to skip a workout here and there”?
If you commit yourself to doing things according to plan 80% or 90% of the time, you will still get a lot of benefits, and you will suffer less along the way.
Yes, if you did stick to things 100%, you might reach your goal faster, but the journey will suck a lot more, and you might be more miserable along the journey. Why not say “ok, I’ll allow myself to do this over a six-month longer period”, so you do it over two years instead of a year and a half, or you do it over a year instead of six months, just to allow yourself that time and that space to breathe, to not worry about being perfect, and to not feel that time pressure.
Rather go longer, but suffer less and not torture yourself along the way. You have a lot more time than you think you have. Becoming superhuman and achieving optimal health is a journey, and it is not something that happens in six months or a year, so you may as well just say to yourself: “I have time. I do not have to rush things, so if I mess up, it is ok.” There is time to fix it if you eat a sugary meal or you load up on carbs.
If you are trying to be perfect 100% of the time, it can make you more feel more stressed and anxious. When you are anxious and stressed, your cortisol levels go up. Cortisol is the main stress hormone, and when elevated too often, it has so many negative side effects to your health, including the breakdown of collagen, adrenal fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, and inflammation.
So, trying to be perfect 100% of the time could actually also damage your health.
Maybe trying to be perfect 100% of the time and feeling stressed will get you the same results as trying to stick to things 80% of the time while allowing yourself to indulge, but being less stressed, therefore, your health will be better.
Think about the French paradox. France is one of the healthiest countries in the world, as well as Italy. They allow themselves to eat dessert and to drink wine, but they have a healthy relationship with food. They socialise around food, they are not as stressed and obsessed with food as a lot of us are, and that has a lot to do with health as well.
So, if being perfect is stressing you out, then maybe for the sake of your health, you should allow yourself to indulge and you should allow yourself to mess up and to not be perfect. And if you do mess up, take deep breaths, and remember that you are human and you do not have to be perfect because you are competing with nobody else, you are just competing against yourself.
You are just trying to be the healthiest version of yourself. You are just trying to become the superhuman version of you, and you want to have fun with it and enjoy experimenting and testing out what effects things have on your body. Do not want stress about it too much. Just enjoy the journey