Progress, Not Perfection.


Today is weigh-in Monday and I’m happy to report that even though I didn’t lose my projected 2.5 pounds I did lose enough to get me out of the 280s – which is the lowest I’ve been since about 2005. My next goal is to get under 270, which will put me at even lower than my original success story from 2004 when I lost 70lbs and 10 dress sizes.

So even though my back went out on me late last night, I’m focused on doing what needs to be done to get down to 265 – my first mini goal on my journey. That will be 10% of my body weight from the start of this year, and put me at a new low weight probably since I was pregnant and had Jeremiah.

(For those keeping track, that was 18 years ago.)

The idea though, is not necessarily about what is on the scale as much as the progress I’m making in other areas. Not eating for comfort this past week, HUGE deal. That I traded food for exercise, even HUGER. That I was able to burn over 1200 last week is progress in the right direction, even though it’s not where I want to be (3500 a week = 1 pound loss through exercise alone.)

And that I can be okay with these little goals is a huge step in the right direction, given I’m so prone to be a perfectionist (which is stupid) and beat myself up if I don’t meet some lofty, unattainable goal of said perfection (which is stupider.)

A lot of people who have issues with addiction and self-destructive behavior have this problem. Whether they’re raised with it or have taken it on themselves, far too many people use the lack of perfection as an excuse to abuse themselves. We punish ourselves for being what we can never be, and then want the world to excuse this backward behavior because of our lofty intentions.

Instead the world just looks at us like we’re stupid… because beating yourself up over things that are out of your control is inherently stupid. Which makes us feel worse, so then we justify this behavior that if we just did something perfectly we would be accepted and valued.

It’s yet another vicious cycle.

Change is incremental. We can’t go from doing all this stuff all the time as a habit that no doubt we’ve cultivated over a lifetime to being perfect overnight. We can be more self-aware, certainly, but stumbles are going to happen. We’re like newborn colts who are struggling to our feet for the first time. You can’t go from that to winning the Kentucky Derby, which I think so many of us want to do.

Mostly because we fail to give ourselves value as is. We harbor such self-loathing that we are certain without perfect behavior we just don’t count.

But we do count. With every breath we take we count. Each step we make in the right direction should be honored and celebrated even if we’re not able to run yet. Yet because we live in this winner-takes-all society we feel like we have to be better than EVERYONE to be any good at all. That’s where the root of the drive for perfection comes from. We have no value as is, so we have to be perfect (which no one else is or can be) in order to count.

It’s an impossible goal. There’s always going to be someone better at what you do than you are – no matter who you are. There’s always going to be someone who is more talented, who has studied longer, trained harder or is simply more popular in the crowd – a crowd of people who get to decide who is better than whom based on their own subjective opinion. A better goal would be to worry about being a better you than you were the day before. That’s the only thing you have control over anyway, and it’s not up for subjective opinion of anyone else.

I hate mistakes. I mean *HATE* mistakes. If I make a mistake and it’s a public one, I’ll relieve that moment in time over and over for the rest of eternity, crushed by the weight of my own humiliation. It’s one of the reasons I don’t try to do anything new around anyone else. I don’t learn new games, I don’t learn how to do sports, I’ve only been on a dance floor three times in my life. I wouldn’t do karaoke and rarely play games if there is anyone but my immediate family around (the safe folks who already know I’m not perfect but are generous to love me anyway.)

The fear of not being perfect paralyzes me. I can’t bear the thought of looking like a fool. So I pass up a lot of opportunity to participate in group activities simply because I don’t know how to do stuff… or fear that the stuff I don’t know how to do I just am not good enough to do in front of an audience.

It’s all just really stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

N’ I’m over it.

Therefore in this unstoppable year I’m going to take on the challenges I wouldn’t have done before. I’m going to learn to get past that initial feeling of discomfort and brave the waters for once. If people laugh, then they’re the assholes. It doesn’t have to reflect at any way on me (or become the baggage that requires 100 extra pounds of weight to carry around.)

Progress, not perfection. It’s the only way to be unstoppable.

My food journal, courtesy of Sparkpeople.com.

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