We've all said it before: Tomorrow I'm going to eat perfectly.
We say it after a dinner out with friends where we indulge in too many desserts, after any feast-ridden holiday, and after we devour a gallon of ice cream following an awful day at work.
It seems completely reasonable and feasible when we proclaim our plans of perfect eating.
We map out exactly what we are going to eat and promise not to deviate from our predetermined food plan.
Perhaps we have a day (or even two) of success, where we adhere to "perfect eating".
But then our well-intentioned plans go awry.
Something comes up that we hadn't foreseen -- a friend invites us to a happy hour, someone leaves homemade cookies in the break room at work, or our significant other brings home pizza for dinner when a salad was planned.
Inevitably, something derails our plans of perfection.
We end up eating even more than we intended because we were trying SO hard not to eat anything "bad."
We wonder where we went amiss with our plans of perfect eating, then lament over feeling like a failure.
Yet the feelings of disappointment and failure only cause us to try to get back on the perfect eating train "starting tomorrow".
We don't realize how this cycle escalates each time we try and fail, once more, to eat perfectly....
So how do you break this cycle?
1. Let go just a little.
We try so hard to achieve an ideal in our eating that is next to impossible. There really is no "perfect" eating.
It isn't possible to eat exactly what we have outlined for the day. Life happens. Things come up. We have a piece of cake at a party. We can't say no to the second helping of mashed potatoes. We go out for a cheesesteak instead of eating the lunch we packed.
We can have the loftiest goals for how we eat, but there will always be things that derail the most well-intentioned plans.
Letting go of this unattainable goal is a huge sigh of relief. We don't have to try to eat perfectly, because it's impossible anyway!
2. Pretty good is the new perfect.
Incorporate this motto into your life. There is no perfect. There is just "pretty good" -- and that's good enough.
You ate some chips at lunch but had a salad and an otherwise healthy sandwich? That's pretty good.
Dinner was followed by a cookie? Well, that's not too bad.
You had one diet coke when you swore you wouldn't drink soda again? Not too shabby.
Once we relax our idea of perfection, eating "pretty good" eases our stress and is much more doable.
Plus, who wants to eat "perfectly" anyway? Perfect leaves little room for error and fun. It is enjoyable to have a treat every now and then or to occasionally indulge in happy hour faire.
3. Remember that perfection is a myth.
No one is meant to be perfect in any area of life -- whether it's eating, relationships, personal growth, healthy habits, your career, etc.
In a "perfect" world, everything is stagnant. There is no growth and no evolution. It is only through mistakes, trail and error, and experimentation that we learn and grow. It is a refreshing way to view life.
We allow ourselves to make mistakes -- whether it's messing up our food plan, getting into a fight with a family member, or realizing our work isn't satisfying -- this is how we incorporate feedback and chart a new course.
Using these helpful tools will start to bring a new perspective into your life. You'll begin to see the truth in the perfection myth and how releasing the tendency towards perfection can bring much needed freedom around your eating.
So, tell me, can you catch yourself this week going back into the "perfect eating" mindset?
How can you adopt the "pretty good" motto instead?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!