Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The appearance of perfection

Being public about my weight loss journey has had some interesting effects on me, effects I'm not sure I could have predicted.  One of the effects I'm really feeling lately is the desire to be "perfect" for the people who have seen me, been inspired by me (http://t.co/DxZr969p), and are cheering me on in this journey of losing (and more importantly maintaining) my weight loss.  As someone who already struggles with perfectionism, this desire hits home in a very visceral way, and the results aren't pretty.

You see, the minute I start feeling like I'm not living up to what I think other people expect of me, I feel ashamed and go into hiding.  One of the ways I have historically gone into hiding is... you guessed it... eating!  So it becomes a Catch-22: I have a bad day, I feel guilt about it for myself and for those around me who are watching, I run and hide, and have a worse day.  The pattern continues until I can do something to shake myself out of it.

It's important to me that you know that this journey is not a perfect one.  There are days that I eat more than I should.  There are days when I eat too much of foods that I know will not satisfy me nutritionally and will leave me needing to eat again after my day's calories are already spent.  There are days when I feel so hungry that I could probably eat a hippo and still feel hungry.  And, of course, there are days I eat for reasons other than hunger.

That's one of the reasons the holidays were so difficult for me.  It's ever so much easier to munch on a tasty piece of cracker spread with buttery smooth brie rather than find something to talk about with someone I don't know well.  Although I'm generally an outgoing person once I get to know you, I still feel awkward and uncomfortable in those initial stages of meet-and-greet.  And of course, there are the family dynamics that crop up around the holidays.  Everyone's got them, and each person has their own way of dealing with them.  My way just happens to show up around my waist and hips first.

Maybe you don't expect me to be perfect in this process.  I sure hope not.  In stories, no one wants to read about the happily ever after part, they just want to know there is one.  For me, the happily ever after part requires an awful lot of work.  And patience with myself on the days when things aren't working the way I want them to.  And understanding from the people around me that sometimes offering me a tasty tidbit is too much for me to handle.  And most of all, encouragement from the people around me to remind me that I can do it.  That I am doing it.  And that it's ok that the process isn't perfect.


  1. Perfectly put! .. Thanks for sharing ... I definitely need to read this!!

  2. Erin

    Your words really resonate with me. I think a lot of women try so hard to be perfect, and it's a source of anxiety and depression.

    By doing a lot of self-exploration--and reading a lot of Geneen Roth books, I've come to realize some nights when I'm feeling sad/hurt/lonely I need to let myself feel, rather than eat my feelings to feel nourished. That is my natural inclination--to nourish, so I know it comes from good intent.

    At the end of the day, you only need to worry about what you think of you. I think all these social networks have made us all a little hyper-conscious about people watching, and while it has its benefits, it can also be harmful.

    Many nights I "turn it off." I hide in my own hole, but I make sure to fill it with things that lift me up, leave me feeling elated.

    As girls we are programmed to please. Unfortunately for us, we go through so much with our bodies. And for me it's all inter-related. It is for many women. That includes self-love, family, emotions, self-esteem, shame, body love.

    I'm very open about it, because the more I talk/write about it, the more I heal. Additionally I appreciate the other women who reach out and tell me they've been feeling that way too, in secrecy.

    I am so impressed with your journey. It's so critical women share what they are going through, and stop trying to act like everything is great all the time. The more I actually talk to women, the more I realize how messed up most of us are, esp. with regard to body image and all that.

    You are truly a pioneer, and I hope you write a book one day.

    The journey is never over, and you are never alone. I'm not either.