Stop Wasting Time Chasing Perfection

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.–Anne Lamott

This past week I was lecturing at a fitness conference in San Francisco. I love San Francisco, what a beautiful city and better yet, a great place to walk! The hills, oh the hills. I’m in awe of the natives, clearly over 60 years old, who speed by me on an incline that would challenge even the most fit, amazing.

When I travel to lecture, I typically have about an hour a day to check and follow up with email. For some reason, this week I was inundated with a push for the new weight loss “secret,” acai juice. More specifically, the countless spams told me if I want to look AMAZING this summer, I could try the “hottest trend in dieting.” Of course there is a picture of Oprah (which leads you to believe she’s using it) and then in fine print explains it was touted as a super food on her show. What, deception? Misleading? Nah, simply another push to part you with your money. Another deceptive move to have you believe there is a new miracle weight loss “secret” available. I often tell my clients if it’s a secret, it must be a really good secret because I have not read any studies, nor have I heard any great success stories about the weight loss benefits of adding acai juice to your diet. Sure, it’s good for you, but will it MAKE you lose weight? Um, no.

So as we get closer to bathing suit season, and the anxiety levels rise and women everywhere wonder, “When will full coverage bathing suits come back in style?” I offer 5 ways to feel great about yourself this summer.

1. Eat as well as you can as often as you can. I created something super easy to follow, Q2 (Quality and Quantity). In other words, monitor the portions as well as the quality of everything you put in your mouth. It all starts with awareness and if you don’t know where you’re struggling with sound food choices, you’ll opt for what’s easy and not always is that the best choice. The most important tidbit here is to remember one thing, if there’s something you really want, have it. If you give yourself permission, you’re far more likely to stay on track with healthy eating versus feeling like you just committed the worse crime ever! At which point you fall in to the pit of guilt and fall back in to less than healthy eating habits.

2. Eat for health NOT weight. It may sound crazy but trust me, the whole weight loss thing is so much of a mind game, right? So choose not to play the games by making your choices based on what’s the best thing you can put in to your mouth right now. If you think about health versus calories, you just may be surprised how much better you will eat. For example, you eat a Snickers bar because it’s only 260 calories. Now, if you’re thinking health, the Snickers bar probably wouldn’t come in to the equation, well not all the time any way. When you get off the crazy calorie counting, point counting thing and opt instead for more color, healthier options and reasonable portions you’ll be fine. Educate yourself, make it interesting. Learn how certain foods contribute to a healthier you, then it becomes less about calorie based choices (which don’t necessarily mean healthy choices) and more about enhancing your health with solid food choices. Check out my new favorite book, 101 Food That Could Save Your Life.

3. 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, exercise and eat well. 20%, that’s your margin of error called life. 🙂

4. Strength Train. Ladies, hear me? There is nothing better that you can do for yourself, O.K. perhaps there are some other things, but when it comes to your body, feeling strong and lean, there’s no better anecdote to getting lean than strength training. Most women are all about cardio, cardio, cardio. That’s fine, but too many ignore the value of strength training when it comes to acquiring a strong, healthy, functional body. I’m not talking bench pressing 250, I’m simply talking about 2-3 solid strength training sessions per week. If you’re not sure where to start, ask me.

5. Stop searching for perfection and learn to embrace what you’ve got and focus on what’s great. I use to tell my clients that for those of us that have a fully functioning body, exercise is a gift. There are millions of people that can’t exercise for whatever reason, most of us can, so let’s just do it. Exercise is simply an opportunity to give your body what it needs to be healthy and strong. Yet all too often, folks believe exercise is punishment for an imperfect body, not so. Exercise is key to physical and mental health. Do it because you deserve the benefits that will come from regular exercise versus using it as a tool solely to seek perfection, you’ll never be satisfied.

So there you go, some suggestions for you to mull over as you head in to short sleeve, bathing suit weather. Take this year to be the year that you once and for all decide to have fun, stop comparing, stop beating yourself up for not being perfect, no one is. Embrace you, do what you can to celebrate your health and genetic cards dealt and perhaps inspire others to follow suit.

Here’s to a healthier you!

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