Deeper Issues: Perfectionism

sign: nobody is perfect

Weight loss is complicated, yet also simple. It can be easy, but also very difficult. I know, because I’ve experienced complexity, simplicity, easy times, and hard times during my journey.

For many of us, a few micro-adjustments are all that is needed to get success on our weight loss journey. It can be that simple once we figure out what works for us.

But figuring out what works for us can be incredibly hard. Furthermore, some people have a lot more to figure out than others.

I am a huge believer in the feedback loop philosophy, where you reflect on your daily habits and make micro-adjustments to eventually change your lifestyle and lose weight permanently.

Unfortunately, for others, it may take some time for results to show. The reality is that we all start on different spots on the weight control spectrum. Weight loss is truly harder for some than for others.

Luuze can work for many people to help them repair their feedback loops, but I’ll be the first to say that it doesn’t work for everyone. I’m not a doctor or medical professional, nor do I claim to be one. I may not be able to help, but others might. There’s no shame in seeking professional help for these deeper issues. Taking back control of our health is incredibly important!

The Negative Side of Perfectionism

Perfection is often seen as a positive trait. Having high standards for oneself and putting in one’s best effort to achieve those standards can often lead to success.

Unfortunately, high standards are sometimes unreasonable, or even impossible to achieve. Social media makes everyone’s lives look perfect even when they are having a terrible time. If we start believing that our best is simply not good enough, mental health can get impacted.

Mental effort is one of the three critical factors that influence where we are on the weight control spectrum. Poor mental health can totally derail our weight loss journey. Even if we are making incredible progress, it may not feel fast enough or good enough, so we give up.

It can also prevent a person from even getting started on their weight loss journey due to fear of failure or shame.

So if we have perfectionistic tendencies, how can we deal with this?

Andrew’s Experiences with Perfectionism

As I’ve mentioned, I am not a doctor, but as someone who has perfectionistic tendencies, I can relate to how perfectionism can impact a person’s ability to succeed. I often get discouraged or start procrastinating if I focus too much on the 5% that went wrong instead of the 95% that went right.

Flipping the perspective so I am reminded of the 95% that went right helps me get back on track.

I share my thoughts with a support network.

When Luuze first launched, it received 28 5-star reviews in a row. The 29th review was a 1-star review, and I got discouraged. A friend gave me a phone call a few hours later, and I shared my frustrations about the 1-star review. He reminded me that even the greatest apps that have completely transformed how the world works, like Google Maps, get 1-star reviews regularly. My friend provided me with a completely true and rational statement that helped me recognize that it is impossible to make everybody happy. In fact, 28 5-star reviews was a massive accomplishment.

Sometimes it takes an external source to help you see the positives. Finding these sources of support can be very powerful to keep you sane on your weight loss journey. Luuze aims to do that with its virtual coaching.

I continually remind myself about my past wins.

During my weight loss journey, I encountered days where I gained weight many, many times. I even had months where I had long plateaus, not losing weight for two months. Two months can feel like forever when you’re in the middle of it!

Andrew's weight chart from 2016 showing a 2 month plateau.
One of my two-month long plateaus.
Andrew's 100 pound weight loss journey
The plateau is barely visible in the big picture.

Luckily, I knew I had it in me to lose weight. Looking back at my weight loss history, it showed significant progress over the years. Reminders of the fact that we have made significant progress over time can help us through though the times where we don’t see perfect progress. Many people benefit from regularly zooming out on the Luuze chart, seeing that they’ve made progress over the past few months, even though progress may be stalling a bit at the present time.

I consciously practice gratitude on a daily basis.

One of the best things I’ve done for my mental health is write a gratitude diary. There are numerous sources that show doing this supports health.

If you’re actively grateful for the 95% that is good, the 5% bad that makes things imperfect will feel less frustrating. I believe that it has to be a habit that gets developed, however, and a gratitude diary where you make it a habit to fill in 3 simple things you are grateful for that day, slowly rewires your brain towards having that reservoir of gratitude that can be grabbed on to when needed.

Getting External Help

As mentioned above, although I believe that Luuze’s feedback loop philosophy can help people lose weight, it may not be for everyone. Even with Luuze’s trend weight calculations, an increase in trend weight can still not feel good, especially for someone with perfectionist tendencies. Deeper support may be necessary, which is totally okay!

A psychologist or doctor may be able to support you with issues of perfectionism. This could allow you to break through the mental barriers that prevent you from losing weight.

Researching this topic, I discovered three articles that dug deeper into how perfectionism can impact our lives. If you believe perfectionistic tendencies may be holding you back, these articles may support you:

Psychology Today: Perfectionism and Self-Criticism: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/food-junkie/202004/perfectionism-and-self-criticism

There are some terrible weight loss books out there, but Dr. Kushner‘s book 6 Factors to Fit is one that is quite aligned to my philosophy on weight loss. He speaks of two types of people that relate to perfectionistic tendencies: the All-or-Nothing Doer and the Self-Critic. This link discusses his research and provides some insight on how to address these issues.

Medical News Today: How Perfectionism Affects Your Mental Health: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323323

This article was a good executive summary of what perfectionism is. It discusses how perfectionism affects one’s mental health, and provides some practical suggestions to manage perfectionism.

Good Therapy: Perfectionism: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/perfectionism

This site was a great detailed summary of what perfectionism is. It provides signs, examples, and types of perfectionism. It also provides some additional tips on how to overcome perfectionism.

Summary

sign: wisdom, not perfectionism

Perfectionism is actually one of the major reasons people fail on their weight loss journey. The world has provided unreasonable expectations on weight loss. Instead of being okay with going slow, people often feel like they need to lose weight fast. Furthermore, photoshopped photos and curated social media profiles can make people feel like whatever they are doing is never good enough. When the inevitable plateau comes, and it almost always comes, this bump in the road can make a person give up, even though they’re making incredible progress.

Especially if perfectionistic tendencies have been built up for a long time, it can be difficult to deal with. Sometimes the best solution can be getting external help, such as a doctor or therapist. Once these perfectionistic tendencies get addressed, the odds of success with weight loss and getting back control of one’s health can increase.

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