There’s something about health and fitness that makes it a prime target for perfectionism. This drive for perfection, though, ultimately only leads to feelings of failure and inadequacy. This is because perfection with health and fitness does not exist, and until we realize this, we’ll be chasing an unattainable goal. Our current culture has for decades created an unrealistic picture of what we all should look like. Magazine covers, movies, advertisements, and even social media accounts show only the highlight reel of the human body. We’re constantly sold quick fixes, tips, and hacks that promise quick results. These do nothing but leave us wasting time, money, and effort feeling like we’re the ones who are broken when we don’t see the outcomes we’ve been told we’d achieve. Living up to our own expectations can sometimes be as unreasonable as living up to those of others We’ve determined that achieving a certain weight, size, or shape will somehow magically make our lives better. We’ve heard that something has worked for somebody else, so we tell ourselves that if it’s not working for us, there’s something wrong with us. We set ourselves impossible standards for success, aiming for 100% or none at all. We tell ourselves that we’ll start on Monday, so we spending the next few days doing nothing but indulging because we only know “on” and “off”.
These patterns, and countless others, are the result of seeking perfection. Sure, some strategies are better than others. What we eat, how we move, and how manage stress, sleep, and our environment matter. Yet we can never be perfect. No matter how effective our strategy is and no matter how consistently we’re implementing it, there will always be “better” ways of doing things.
We’re far from having a clear grasp on what’s optimal, even for the general population, much less the individual. The odds of us actually choosing a strategy that’s “perfect” are dismal. Even if we were to find some “perfect” strategy, and adhere to it with unwavering consistency, are physical outcomes the only ones we value? Most, if not all of us, are constantly weighing our often-competing values. What else do we want to dedicate our time towards? Friends? Family? Work? Hobbies? Volunteering? Time is not the only constraint within which we must work. What’s our budget? How much can we afford to spend on exercise? What foods can we afford?
Finally, even if we had unlimited resources at our disposal and a perfectly-planned strategy that accounted for adaptation, are we willing to dedicate every second of every day in pursuit of optimal health, body composition, or performance? Would that even be ideal?
So, if we we’re not going to come even close to perfect, why are stressing out over different levels of “good”? Rather than seek to be perfect, we might instead seek to be deliberate. We choose a strategy that works pretty well. We choose a strategy that gets us moving in the right direction. We choose a strategy that works within the context of our unique needs, preferences, and goals. We implement that strategy, acknowledging that sometimes it might change or we may deviate from it. If we do so deliberately, in the pursuit of other worth goals, this isn’t imperfection. This is being a resilient, responsive, complex human being. We set the terms of our own lives, within our own circumstances, and so long as we live by those terms, we’re as close to perfect as we can hope to be. We own our decisions. We acknowledge our missteps. We celebrate our wins. We make adjustments as necessary. So long as we’re doing so deliberately, we’ve got nothing to be ashamed for. We’ve got nobody else to answer to. Life’s too short to spend it living up to unreasonable or static expectations – from ourselves or from others. Don’t seek to be perfect, that’s a failing strategy, seek to be deliberate.
Your worth is not defined by anything or anybody but you.
You already are worthy.
As you are.
You always will be.
You’ve got this.