Mindset Roadblock #3 | Expecting Perfection
Updated: Sep 21, 2021
When it comes to improving your nutrition (or really any good habit you’re trying to adopt), have you ever said, “Well, I’ve already messed up. I’ll start again on Monday.”
Expecting perfection is a major mindset roadblock when it comes to successfully changing our nutrition habits because it has a direct impact on the first two mindset roadblocks we’ve discussed: paralysis by analysis and the diet roller coaster. Expecting perfection leads to an all-or-nothing mindset that makes us feel like we have to stop and start over if we make a mistake.
But sometimes we stop for weeks, months, or even years at a time because we still hold on to the belief that when we start up again we’ve got to be perfect or it isn’t going to work. You see this in the “I’ll start again on Monday” mentality I mentioned above. (I’m guilty of this sometimes, too!)
Think of it like expecting to ride a bullet train to your destination, but instead you find yourself on an old-fashioned locomotive. When old faithful inevitably makes a detour, a longer-than-planned pause at the next station, or gets held up for repairs, you panic and choose to get off the train and walk back to the start, confused as to why you can’t seem to make progress. If you had stayed on the locomotive - detours, plateaus and all, you would have gotten to your destination much faster than repeatedly starting over because it wasn’t the perfect ride you imagined.
My point here is that we lose sight of the idea of nutrition as a practice, not a magic bullet. It’s just like running, yoga or strength training. You aren’t going to walk into a gym, trip over a barbell, and magically come out jacked - it takes consistent (not perfect) work. Said another way,
expecting to perfectly execute an entirely new lifestyle all at once without ever making a mistake makes about as much sense as thinking you should be able to pick up a totally foreign instrument and play it perfectly. With this mindset, you’ll hit one sour note and throw up your hands and say, “well I guess I’m just not meant for this,” without ever allowing yourself to practice, and by proxy, never allowing yourself to progress.
Another downfall of expecting perfection is that it gives you a subconscious out. You might consciously have every intention of doing it right this time, but to you, “right” has only one meaning: perfect. And when it’s decidedly NOT perfect, we allow ourselves to quit, believing we are the problem - not the approach.
Here’s an example that might sound familiar. You have so much riding on your expectation of perfection that something as innocent as eating a cupcake causes you to stop progress alto
gether and eat ALL THE CUPCAKES for the next three weeks because you’re afraid that when you start up again, you’ll never be “allowed” to have another cupcake again. In the end, you use perceived failure and the expectation of perfection as proof that you should give up altogether - Only to look to the promise of another attempt at perfection on Monday.
As you can see, this mindset is just another way to self-sabotage and reaffirm false beliefs that you are incapable of change. I’m all for acceptance, because you can’t know where you’re going without knowing where you’re starting from, but often acceptance is a mask for complacency fueled by low self esteem or poor sense of worth.
You are already worthy and loved, but if you want to actually get healthy, quit expecting perfection. It’s just another form of procrastination. If we just stop stopping, we might be amazed at how far we get and what we truly are capable of. You are capable of having a functional, healthy, strong, happy body. And you deserve it. You just have to believe that. And if that sounds too “woo-woo” for you, check back in next week when we dig in to Mindset Roadblock #4: Limiting Beliefs.