Perfectionism as a Barrier to Exercising
Motivation to Exercise: LOW, Need to Exercise: HIGH
What to Do?
I think that the biggest problem here is what Cognitive Behaviour Therapists call “All-or-Nothing Thinking.” We make big plans. We create complex and rigid routines for ourselves. We judge how well we are doing by how “compliant” we are, which is great, until we have an off day. We don’t make it to the gym. We have that donut. We forget to eat breakfast and grab a quick breakfast sandwich at McDonald’s.
Life gets in the way, and yet too often we let it derail the entire plan. “Forget this,” we pout. “I’m done. It’s Friday, I might as well re-start the diet on Monday.” Wait. Not so fast. There is a better way.
It’s called GIVING YOURSELF A FREAKIN’ BREAK! You’re not perfect, and nobody – no good weight loss coach, anyhow – is going to expect you to be perfect. We have slip-ups. So why not build those into our plans? That way, not being 100% perfect is actually part of the plan!
Can you do that?
How to Make it Work
If you’re a food addict, this will not work. But if not, then put planned cheat meals into your plan. Eat “clean” 90% of the time, and cheat no more than 10%. That means that if you eat 3x/day in a week, you get 2 cheat meals (cheat meals, not cheat days, lol).
This way “cheating” is a part of your plan and won’t derail you. Remember: if you’re a food addict, you must always avoid eating processed sugars, flours and wheat products. You can never cheat, because in so doing, you ignite the physical craving associated with the addiction. That’s just a fact of life that can’t be avoided, unfortunately. You may slip up on quantities, however, and it’s there that you need to be gentle on yourself.
Regarding exercise, if you have a routine that calls for 5 exercises, 4 sets each, and it’s one of those days where you just don’t want to do it, then modify it. Tell yourself you’re just going to do 1 set of each. Or maybe 1 set of just 2 or 3 of them, or even of just 1 of them.
The point: do something! If you do something, chances are you’ll find the spark you need to do just a bit more. But if you don’t do any more, then give yourself a pat on the back that you did something at least.
All-or-Nothing thinking is often a product of a perfectionistic personality. If that describes us, we need to set the bar low enough for ourselves so that we don’t set ourselves up to fail. So, your trainer gives you a routine to do. If you think that your perfectionism may derail you from completing it, then tell him/her. Ask for a routine that, to use our earlier example, only requires you do 1 set of the first 2 or 3 exercises.
Then have them write in a caveat, that the extra sets (up to 3 more), and the extra exercises, are bonus exercises. This way, if you do the extra exercises/sets, you’ll feel extra good about yourself. A good trainer can easily program a routine that covers everything you need covered, with 2 or 3 exercises per workout day. It wouldn’t work for a bodybuilder or powerlifter, but is that what you want to accomplish? Didn’t think so .
If you’re not a food addict, then ask your trainer/Dietitian/Nutritionist to write in cheat meals to your food plan. If it’s there in writing, it won’t be going off your plan if you do it. You’ll be following your plan.
I Need Help! I Don’t Want to Figure this Stuff out on My Own!
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