Today is *just* about the day where all the enthusiasm starts to fade from that New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Many of you set goals for yourself – and missed them – some of you by a wide margin.
I’m here to tell you that you haven’t failed – yet.
What you are struggling with right now isn’t your diet – it’s is getting over ‘perfectionism’. You set a bar and did not meet that, so you are discouraged.
What you are doing is applying idealistic notions of the kind of perfection you can achieve in other areas of your life with one that is much harder: your mind and body. We don’t control our bodies in the same way that we control our possessions. Unlike your resolution to clean your desk drawer, it isn’t a matter of ‘Just Do It’ – unlike possessions, you don’t own your body as much as it owns you.
And your body does not care about your fitting into a particular clothes size – and it has made this abundantly clear.
Your mind and body have mechanisms in place to thwart your attempts to change it. For example: starve yourself as your ‘diet plan’, and your body will go into ‘starvation mode’ and become miserly with every calorie.
It’s as if that desk drawer you were trying to clean jumped out of the desk and threw itself on the floor, spilling its just-organized contents – and you have to start again.
You have to approach dieting very differently than many other tasks because of this lack of total control. Yes – a few people *do* have total control. They are FREAKS! You are probably not a freak, unfortunately - you are probably a pretty fallible person – like the rest of us.
The important point you need to remember here is that weight loss is not only the property of the freaks.
You don’t need to be perfect – you need to be patient and persistent - but not perfect – and you can’t teach yourself to be perfect, but you can teach yourself to be patient and persistent.
From a comment I left here a few months ago:
I am very concerned with the issue of ‘joy’ while dieting. ‘Dieting’ sucks because so many people do it and make themselves miserable. You should NEVER allow yourself to feel miserable over your weight. Frustrated? Sure? Like a world-class musician, what we do every day is *practice*, and while you and I might be in awe at the accomplishment watching that musician practice, they might tell us afterward how bad they did, and point out the mistakes we couldn’t hear, and the greater level of perfection they did not achieve in this day’s practice. And yet, to us, it was awesome.
Anyone going on a diet is performing a practice no less challenging – and rewarding – than that musician. And like that musician, the mastery of the instrument is never complete – a musician never says: ‘I don’t have to practice anymore – I played that piece perfect.’
So make your goal to lose weight without despairing. To not make yourself miserable over it. To set goals, honestly go for them, fail, and try again, and do so with joy, knowing that the only real failure is giving up.
As long as the diet you’ve chosen to follow provides adequate calories and quality nutrition, to look at your diet as a daily practice to bring yourself as close as possible to this every day – and not getting wrapped up in how a particular day goes – will lead to a lifetime of better food choices, better health – and you should lose weight along the way. Little by little, as hopeless as it might seem now, you will get better at it with practice.
‘Practice’ is more important than ‘perfect’.