A common misperception my patients struggle with is thinking they have to strive for perfection in order to be successful managing weight.
But this perfectionistic mindset only sets you up for failure because eating and exercise rarely go perfectly each and every day.
Since managing weight tends to be a lifelong endeavor, I encourage all of my patients to drop this perfectionistic mindset, be more flexible and forgiving and strive to be a ‘B’ student instead.
B students can do well 80% of the time, leaving 20% for life balance.
Giving yourself permission to not be perfect can actually be quite freeing.
It can be helpful to look at eating and exercise with the same attitude as other important things in life; you wouldn’t expect work or relationships to go perfectly smoothly every single day.
I also tell my patients that slip-ups are a part of weight management; expect them, accept them and move on without self-criticism.
Interested in adopting this new ‘B’ student mindset? Here are some ways to get started:
1 – Instead of denying yourself all dessert-type foods, you find some treat options that are satisfying enough that you only need 100-200 calories worth.
2 – Instead of giving up drinking any alcohol, you enjoy a glass of wine as a special treat 1 or 2 times per week.
3 – Instead of giving up all bread, you find some higher-fiber, thin-sliced bread options that you enjoy.
4 – Instead of recording everything you eat and drink 24-7 (which becomes time-consuming and hard to sustain), you use an online tracker once a week or when you start veering off track.
5 – Instead of following a rigid meal plan exactly, you adapt it to match what you like, what’s easiest to prepare and what foods you commonly keep at home. Healthier meal planning is an important part of weight management.
6 – Instead of squeezing in an intense workout when short on time, you take time on busy days to get in brisk walking and use your wearable activity tracker to get credit for putting your body in motion throughout the day.
Focusing on progress, not perfection, by bringing moderation and balance into your healthy weight-loss program, is the key to achieving long term weight management success!
If you’re curious if perfectionistic tendencies or other lifestyle or mindset factors have been derailing your weight management success, I developed a short, scientifically-validated Six Factor Quiz that you can take and get your personalized results.
To learn more about how perfectionism can derail weight management success, read my Psychology Today guest blog here.
Robert Kushner, MD