Me, A Perfectionist?

The book that has inspired this post is “The Look That Kills. An Anorexic’s Addiction to Control” by Michelle Myers. I have been so blessed in reading this book.  I would encourage everyone to read it.  While it was written about recovery from an eating disorder, it is so much more! Thank you so much, Michelle, for writing it.

I have never considered myself a perfectionist. In fact, I will tell you that I am the opposite of a perfectionist.  I can easily whip up an advertising flyer in a few minutes and be satisfied with it. Something that would take my husband hours. Granted his flyer would be astronomically better than mine – I like fast and simple, so that I can move on to something else. My house is always a mess, as is my cubicle. My nails are not manicured, and my roots are usually showing.  But after reading this book, I have discovered that I am a perfectionist after all.

“Researchers divide perfectionists into three categories:

1. Self-oriented perfectionists, who expect perfection from themselves.

2. Other-oriented perfectionists, who expect perfection from others.

3. Socially prescribed perfectionists, who think others expect perfection from them.”

I am most certainly number three.  I often try to hide my failures for the fear of other’s reactions. I cannot stand to see disappointment on the face of someone I love. As I have come into my passion with fitness, I have become increasingly aware of what I put into my body.  I strive to teach others how to lose weight, and be their healthiest.  In doing so, people around me are constantly watching what I eat. I feel that if I am allowing myself a treat, I have to do it at home – that I cannot be seen in public enjoying a piece of cake.  For one, it contradicts what I am teaching.  And second, it might tempt someone who is struggling with their weight to give in as well.

I feel a lot of pressure to have perfect nutrition all the time. In fact, at a party I recently attended I was asked how I have such great self-control. And while I tried to tell them that I didn’t always, I still declined dessert for fear of causing others to stumble. I often joke with close friends that I am going to turn into that woman you see on tv found in a closet eating an entire cake.  I can laugh because I don’t think it will actually ever happen, but I can see how my socially prescribed perfectionism could lead me that way.

As much as I believe in clean eating, and regular exercise, I also believe in balance and moderation. When you are trying to lose weight, of course you have to restrict the treats. But even then, I think you have to allow yourself to cheat sometimes.  Otherwise, your restriction will become too much, and you will give up anyway. But I also think that if you are at a healthy weight, you can enjoy the occasional treat without spiraling down the path to obesity. While remembering that our daily choices can either improve our health or make it worse, we have to not be so controlling that we end up causing ourselves more harm than good.

Tosca Reno, author of The Eat Clean Diet, calls sugar the white poison.  While I agree with that, I also believe that, for me, heaven is going to smell like a bakery! So, I am vowing not to give in to my socially prescribed perfectionism.  I will eat clean and exercise, and teach others to do the same because I believe it is the best way to keep our bodies healthy. But I will also enjoy an occasional piece of freshly baked cake or my husband’s banana pudding. 🙂

Our lifetime of health begins with today’s choices!

• Michelle has an excellent blog! Check it out

2 thoughts on “Me, A Perfectionist?

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  1. Great post Hether. In looking at the causes of lost health, there are 3 major factors to consider: physical stress, chemical stress and emotional stress. Physical stress is what we can do to our bodies physically on a daily basis, i.e. sitting at a desk with poor posture for 8 hours… lack of a regular fitness routine… car accidents. All would be considered physical stress. Chemical stress is basically what we put into our mouths… you do a great job encouraging and educating folks about how to improve this stress.
    But, the social perfectionism that you speak of would be considered emotional stress. In my practice I think emotional stress is the most common problem in people’s health and yet it is also the most overlooked. So many times I hear a patient say, “But I didn’t do anything and yet now I am fighting XXXXX (name a condition)!” When I question them, almost always we come around to the fact that they have been under a great deal of stress and that led to their current problem.
    Good for you in recognizing your “condition” :)and for being open enough to share it with us!

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