Thoughts and questions re aiming for perfection

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    • #11071
      Barb R

      So Gillian, I’m still thinking about this idea of not aiming for perfection, purposely choosing outside the bounds of whatever guideline we might be aiming for around our eating habits. And I’ve taken your advice to avoid perfection to heart and have been looser about following times, occasionally eating earlier than the time I’ve chosen. That fortunately hasn’t caused any increased addictive desire that I’ve noticed. Yet oddly, I prefer following times. It just provides me a boundary that actually gives me more freedom, it feels like, in my eating, as I don’t think about food much between meals anymore, I don’t have to keep assessing, am I hungry, is it time to eat?

      I’m wondering what you think about the concept of moderation versus abstinence. Abstainers aim for perfection, so I guess you’re recommending moderation as being more sustainable. But could it be that some of us do better abstaining than trying to moderate? And aren’t there certain areas of life where we aim for abstinence or perfection? For example, most people in monogamous relationships have a boundary of I won’t sleep with other people, even if I’m attracted to them. It wouldn’t make sense, I don’t think, for them to think I better not be rigid in this, I better remind myself I have choice here and even sometimes choose to sleep with someone else to avoid perfection. I know that’s kind of a silly example, but there are areas of life where we just naturally have things we would never do, even though part of us might want to.

      So I’m wondering if the problem isn’t so much aiming for perfection, but how we react when we aren’t perfect, which of course with food is likely to happen at times. Can we aim for perfection and still not beat ourselves up over the occasional times when we choose to not be perfect? Maybe that’s saying the same thing as you’re suggesting in a different way.

      I think of how I just got so tired of the deleterious effects eating sugar had on me and I stopped eating it, after decades of battling with that, and it was relatively easy this time, as I simply became a person who doesn’t choose to eat sugar because I don’t want the negative side effects. This has been easily sustainable for about three years now, and I live with three people who all eat sugar and have many of these foods in our kitchen, and I couldn’t care less.

      So isn’t it possible to have that same success in other areas of eating behavior by permanently changing a habit? That’s what I’m beginning to think a lot of it is, simple habits. I had gotten into the habit of grazing throughout the day, and that triggered a lot of addictive desire. I’ve now been building the habit of not grazing all day, and it’s gotten relatively easy.

      With all that said, I get that food is a tricky area. What has been essential for me in changing my eating habits is making sure I eat only food I love and that loves me. I eat what feels good in my body. I eat foods that are really delicious. I take the time to prep each week. Sitting down to a meal is something I look forward to, as I will only eat foods that I really enjoy. Choosing meals that satisfy me makes me more willing to choose not to eat between meals, because I know there will be another great meal coming in a couple hours or so.

      Anyway, sorry for the length of this. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on all this, and anyone else who has been patient enough to read this far, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences, too.

      • This topic was modified 8 months, 1 week ago by Barb R.
    • #11073

      Hi Barb,

      Fascinating question you’ve posted here.

      First, the biggest problem with abstinence is creating and/or maintaining an all-or-none mindset, where there’s rigid control or none at all. If this isn’t you, that’s really good news. That is mostly the problem I aim to address in Week 6 where I talk about developing the skill of being imperfect. Then, there’s no “falling off the wagon” – which is a pretty good outcome!

      I abstain from some things, in that I don’t eat them at all and haven’t done for years, and I mostly eat meals at certain times. But my ability to have control over this doesn’t depend on me being rigid about it. So if I ate lunch at a different time (as I did a couple of days ago) it doesn’t mean anything to me, like “oh no, I’ve blown it!” or “this is dreadful, I mustn’t do that again.”

      Often the “perfect” mode is adopted instantly, as when starting a diet. It’s good that you say, “I’ve now been building the habit of not grazing all day, and it’s gotten relatively easy.” So this developed over time, rather than, “I will never graze again.” It wasn’t zero to perfect all at once. I imagine that if you did graze one day for some reason, it wouldn’t signify catastrophe, yes? And you don’t feel like you’ve got some rigid rules about grazing you’ve got to stick to, yes?

      I’m not a fan of the word ‘moderation’, as it’s truly meaningless and many people use it to overeat. And I’m not a fan of the idea of ‘aiming for perfection’, as to me there’s stuff that goes along with that word, such as self-criticism, rigidity, assumptions about the future and denial of choice. I think it’s more about, “let’s eat these things (or in this way) less often because (insert non-weight motivation) and let’s see what happens as we go along.” And maybe what happens is you hardly eat them at all or even not at all.

      Finally, I do wonder if there’s anything behind your question here that you haven’t actually said – maybe not! I was thinking you might be struggling with making some change or maybe there’s a fear it will all fall apart? I don’t know, but it looks like you’re doing well and making some valuable changes in your eating.

    • #11081
      Barb R

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply, Gillian! I think I asked the question because I’m trying to understand a bit better why times and your technique for addressing addictive desire has worked so well for me. I do get that reminding myself I have choice is a huge part of it. When I first started using times, I would set a timer and would sometimes glance frequently to see how much longer I had left. Now I don’t even set a timer, just approximate the time, and it has become second nature. It seems to me a lot of it was a grazing habit that I have now changed. And it makes sense what you say about not being rigid. Sometimes convenience results in eating at different times, and that’s okay, and sometimes I’m super hungry before my planned time to eat, and it’s okay to eat then too.

      I love your point about it being about eating this way because I get non-weight-related positive results, such as feeling better physically and emotionally, and that that results in more easily behaving in the new way around food. I think that’s exactly what has happened for me. And yes, there is a little bit of wondering where has that intense addictive desire gone and is it lurking somewhere. But of course I have the tools for greeting it when it does arise again.

      Thanks again. Greatly appreciated.

    • #11083

      Good to read this, Barb.

      I think it just takes some time for you to settle into this new way of life to trust it’s real.

      Just think, “so far, so good” and I’m here if or when you need me, and the site too.

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