Don’t Fall Into The Perfectionism Trap

Being in this industry, albeit as a hobby, I’ve encountered and had conversations with many other health and fitness professionals, most of whom devote most of their time at work to helping individual clients. Funnily enough, most of them have told me that they have encountered one particular type of client – the impatient perfectionist.

We are talking about the person who is so focused and goal-oriented that he or she will never take no for an answer. This person will stick to the plan religiously, use his or her willpower to curb all temptation, is highly disciplined and regimental, and will do anything it takes to succeed. However, on the other side of the coin, he or she will also expect it to go according to plan and that the results will meet their expectation.

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I think you roughly know what I’m talking about. After all, such personalities exist in various other arenas, not just in the world of fitness and weight loss. To be frank, I also used to be one of those people. This might or might not surprise you, but today’s sermon, erm I mean blog post, ahem ahem… haha, is to encourage you not to be one of these types.

One particular fitness motivator and personal trainer I spoke to talked about a specific long-term client who started her journey as a morbidly obese individual. Through hard work and persistence she managed to drop more than half her body size in the span of only three years. Her lifestyle had completely changed because she understood the psychology behind weight loss.

And then the problem began. This particular lady, due to unforeseen circumstances, was unable to stick to an exercise programme for a period of time due to some personal life issues. After the storm in her life has calmed down, she stepped on the scale once again and to her horror, found that she had gained a few kilos. According to the personal trainer, she ended up in tears.

Imagine this for a moment. Here is a lady who has worked so hard, experienced so much success due to a strengthened mind and a laser-targeted focused, and she took a small perceived setback so harshly. Don’t you find that a little funny? Do you know what her issue is? It’s a quest for perfection with no compromise whatsoever.

Then there is the other prototype – people who start a journey with high expectations of themselves and an unbelievable level of impatience. It’s as though they are trapped in a vicious cycle of berating themselves and inaction. They use terms like ‘useless’, ‘weak’, ‘incompetent’, and ‘crap’ to describe themselves when they do not see the progress fast enough. What is their issue? Impatience of course, topped up with a sprinkle of perfection.

Do you see the insanity of this kind of thinking? It’s almost like an obsessive quest for perfectionism. I have touched on this issue slightly in previous blog posts, and written about it extensively in the Winning Psychology Manual, but the fact that I recently found out from other professionals spurred me on to harp on this.

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People, be reasonable with your expectations and be wise with your approach! That’s the message I always drill in all of my books and programs. Think about what you want out of this weight loss journey – being fit in the long-term, isn’t it? In the long-term! That means you will require some patience. Changing your lifestyle is the essential element in this, and it does take time.

Think about the consequences if you take things to the extreme. If you starve too much for the purpose of eliciting a calorie deficit, your metabolism slows down, your hormones are affected and then you get grumpy and make poor decisions. If you went down the other pathway and jack up your exercise intensity too quickly, you might get an injury and be sidelined for a period of time.

So what I’m saying is that falling off the wagon is alright, as long as you realise what you have done and have the calmness to press the reset button and start again from the current point –slowly but gradually. It really boils down to psychology. The moment you start to feel like a failure, do something about it, i.e. plan your solution. Don’t allow the negative thoughts to take root and wipe out your common sense.

Weed out perfectionism. Think about making progress instead. The sage Osho once said “Accept yourself as you are. And that is the most difficult thing in the world, because it goes against your training, education, your culture. From the very beginning you have been told how you should be; nobody has ever told you that you are good as you are”.

So yes, forget about perfectionism. Get some body positivity going. You are making progress-be proud of it. If you experience a setback, start over again. As long as your heart still beats, there is still time to rectify your issues. Easier said than done, I know, but keep that in mind and aim to make it your mantra. And if weight loss is your goal, get some perspective with the books that are part of the Granite Fitness Solution and the Granite Fitness Masterclass.

Mark

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Also published on Medium.


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