It bears repeating : PROGRESS, not Perfection

January 20, 2010

“PROGRESS, not Perfection” has been my signature line for many years and what I call my Motto, at least in the domain of my weight, although honestly I wonder if it’s not my motto for Life period.

I recently was commenting to Shana who I consider to be one of my big-time inspirations.  I mean the woman’s lost a lot of weight, looks great, blogs fabulously & is one of the most consistent exercisers I’ve followed.   I’ve watched Shana struggle with the same 10 pounds or so for a year – she always seems to want to lose more, and I’m sure one day she will, but she hasn’t yet found the right mix to get her to the next level.   Like most of us, Shana found a few more pounds during the holidays, and her weight has been up about 5-7 pounds above where she usually hangs out.  Like many people, she’s had a hard time gettting back on track after being off in the food free-for-all for a while.  And like most of us blogging here, she KNOWS what to do – but hasn’t managed it, and I suspect it’s that old nemesis Perfectionism coming in again.

Ah, Perfectionism, I know you well, and I am a WAR with you.

Shana wrote about her eating one day last week.  She had what I think any of us would see as a really great dieting day.  Breakfast : On plan.  Lunch : On plan.  Dinner : On plan.  Shana snacked while making dinner.  I think a lot of us do that, especially if we had skipped a planned midafternoon snack to save on calories or because of poor planning.  Shana carefully measured and counted her snack.  She had exactly one serving (13 chips she reported) of potato chips, and a couple of tablespoons of dip.   How many of you would have been able to do that?  Carefully measure, portion control, not go back and eat the whole bag?

But was Shana proud of her control & self restraint?  No.  She was apologizing for having the chips & dip at all.  Because it wasn’t “Perfect”.

It was her first day really being in control of her eating in several weeks, but because it wasn’t “Perfect” she saw it as something negative, not the HUGE VICTORY it was.

Shana had made ENORMOUS PROGRESS in her eating that day — not just the good meals all day, but also the careful counting of a snack.

It can be frighteningly difficult to live by “PROGRESS, not Perfection” for ourselves, but somehow we’re all kinder and gentler with others.    I build my ability to live up to my motto by seeing the pattern in others, and trying to nudge them back to a more forgiving & realistic world.

Please, please, please : when you see others expecting Perfection of themselves, please call them out on it & ask them to see the PROGRESS they have made.

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