In our culture, the word perfect is rarely seen as anything other than a compliment. Despite it being quite possibly the highest form of flattery, you still tell your children something to the effect, “There is no such thing as being perfect. You always have to strive for the best you can be, and that is all anyone can ask of you.” Yet somewhere in adulthood you lose that sentiment, and go back to striving to this ideal of “perfect”—especially when it comes to the way you look and the way you eat.
Thanks to the strong prevalence of the media in your day to day life, you are constantly being exposed to people you deem “perfect.” You start creating this “alpha-body” by choosing which celebrity or public figure has the, “perfect arms” and “perfect legs” and piece together your ideal look. You then start striving for this look, no matter how realistic it is, because you want to achieve such “perfection.”
I want you to think about two things:
1) Remember what you say or said to your children, there is no such thing as perfection, just be the best you can be. Instead of reaching for what could be unattainable because of the way your body is structured or the amount of time you have to devote to healthy eating and exercise, try thinking about how to feel your best and be your best. Have goals, but don’t let perfection be one of them because there is no such thing!
2) The second thing I want you to remember is that the things we deem “perfect” can often be a ruse. For example the celebrity you want to look like may in fact be photo-shopped and not be exactly who you think. Also, a lot of these people aren’t juggling as much as you may juggle. Their full time job could be working out 8 hours a day, and they have private chefs preparing their meals. Again, do your best to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Don’t think about someone else’s.
When it comes to the healthy lifestyle you lead, it can be easy to fall into the “perfect” trap. You go to bed at night and think, “today I ate perfect” or “my exercise routine this week was perfect.” Labeling a certain day or week which such lofty praise can set the bar at an unrealistic level, making a day that you deem not so “perfect” seem that much more daunting. It is better to focus on all the healthy choices you make as achievements, but not necessarily a measure of how “good” you were on that particular day or week. As you know from mindful eating, there is no such thing as what you are “supposed” to eat and what is “off limits”; this idea of the “perfect” day doesn’t really work.
Instead of striving for perfection, strive for your best. Your best self is all anyone, including you can ask for! As long as you stay motivated to be healthy, and celebrate daily achievements and goals that you accomplish, you will get better every day—and getting better every day means there is no such things as perfect, just your best!
Your turn to take action: Try not to use the word “perfect” this week and focus on being your best instead! Let me know how it goes!