Yesterday was one of THOSE days. I apparently left my brain at home that morning because I acted like an airhead on more than one occasion, and a bunch of little things at work added up to make one frustrating day. I came home feeling tired and defeated. Then I made dinner, which was poppyseed chicken that I had taken out of the freezer. I was so proud for having a meal stashed away that I could just whip out and put in the oven, but then I ended up cooking it too long, and it tasted dry and unsatisfying. That means that of course after dinner, I wanted something else. So I had a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and that wasn’t satisfying either. Instead of distracting myself with something besides food (like, I don’t know, PRAYER), I just finished off the container (there was probably about 2 scoops left in there, so 3 scoops in all). Then I sat there feeling weak and pathetic. I had planned to do a quick 2 mile workout using an oldie but goodie fitness DVD, but after eating all that ice cream, I just felt gross. The thought crossed my mind: “I’ve already blown it today, so why bother?”
WHY do I think this way? I am sure anyone else who has tried to lose weight has experienced similar moments (please tell me I am not alone in this!). If I don’t follow my plan to the letter, then the temptation to abandon it altogether is strong. If I don’t have time for a solid 45- or 60-minute workout, then I often skip exercising altogether because I can’t do as much as I would like. I tell myself it has to be all or nothing, and when I can’t do it all, far too often I choose to do nothing.
Of course, this whole mindset is ridiculous! As I’ve written before, I wouldn’t do this in other areas of my life. If I overslept for work, I wouldn’t just miss the whole day. If I failed a test, I certainly wouldn’t quit going to class (well, except for that one time in college when I dropped Advanced Spanish Literature, but I digress). I realized last night that the problem is perfectionism. I set these lofty, often impossible expectations for myself, and if I don’t think I can perfectly meet them, then I stop trying. Even though I know I know I KNOW I will never be perfect, I still insist on having this perfectionist mentality. The reality, however, is that I am just setting myself up for failure because perfection is not attainable. I will lose that contest every time.
So I’m changing the rules. Instead of trying to be perfect, I am just going to do something. Last night I may have overeaten, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t redeem the evening by also exercising. So even though it was 8:30, I pulled out that DVD, and I did 25 minutes of “power walking.” No, it wasn’t an hour. No, it probably didn’t even come close to burning the amount of calories needed to make up for that ice cream. But it was better than nothing, and I will take something over nothing any day.
The wonderful thing about each day that we are given is that we don’t have to end it in failure. By God’s grace, we can find redemption, whether that’s in the form of a quick run around the block, or an apology to your spouse or friend, or a much-needed phone call with a loved one.
What about you? Do you struggle with perfectionism, and if so, how do you combat it?