Is perfectionism preventing reaching your health goals?

Today I wanted to talk about perfectionism. It’s day 22 of this 30 day Real Health January series and I am proud of myself for writing and sharing an article every day so far! But today I had a lot to do so I missed my morning writing window. It’s now 9pm and I very nearly didn’t post anything because it is late and I don’t have time to write something as in depth as I usually do. Then I realised that this is perfectionism rearing it’s ugly head and the false belief that I should do everything well or not bother at all.

This is definitely a trap that myself and the women I have coached have fallen into on our journeys to better health. The idea that if we can’t follow the a diet perfectly and we don’t have time for the perfect exercise routine then why even try? The truth is that you don’t have to be perfect to reach your health goals. No matter whether your goal is to lose weight, improve your fitness, balance your hormones or get your period back, it’s what you do majority of the time that counts.

Are you approaching your health goals with perfectionism?

For those of you with perfectionistic tendencies, even if 90% of your actions are aligned with your goals you will focus on the 10% that you did “wrong”. This can lead to negative self-talk, beating yourself up, self-sabotaging behaviour and often giving up all together. You can find yourself spinning in circles, constantly starting new diet plans or fitness regimes with the hope that this time it will work. At the start you feel super motivated and follow the program to the letter, but as soon as life starts to get in the way you quickly lose motivation and end up back where you started. Then you feel frustrated because you never see results you are looking for. I don’t mean to criticise, I am saying this from experience!

Perfection and procrastination go hand in hand. Know the feeling of spending weeks researching the perfect way to eat or the specific combination of exercises to achieve your dream body? Often perfectionists can get stuck in this phase, over-thinking and over-analysing to the point of paralysis. What is the anti-dote to this procrastination? It is to just start. Even if you’re not sure it will work, start making healthier choices for yourself. Make some simple changes that feel achievable for you right now and don’t worry about the details.

Eat some more vegetables. Move your body more. Spend time relaxing. Try to get to bed early. You don’t have to do everything at once. Be kind and compassionate with yourself and be your own cheerleader. If you eat healthily all week, don’t obsess over the takeaway you had on Saturday night. Focus on the positive changes you have made and give yourself the freedom to “slip-up”. If your healthy habits get in the way of you living your life, they aren’t going to be sustainable long term. Life will always get in the way.

Yes you can enjoy souvlaki and cake and reach your health goals!

Perfectionism and your health

And not only can perfectionism prevent you reaching your health goals but it can actually be harmful to your health. Perfectionism has been linked with anxiety and depression as you are constantly comparing yourself to an exceptionally high or even impossible standard and feeling like you don’t measure up. You feel like you are constantly being judged by others as well as by the negative chatter in your head. Living with this harsh inner-critic and feeling like you are never good enough can be totally exhausting! Perfectionism can lead to insomnia, fatigue, stress and burn out just to name a few. Overcoming perfectionism, or at least learning to recognise and manage it is a key step on the road to becoming your healthiest self.

Letting go of perfectionism is something that I really focus on in my health coaching programs. Often women come to be expecting a detailed meal plan setting out exactly what to eat to lose weight or to fix their hormones. But what I aim to do is put you in charge, giving you the resources and a structure then guiding you to listen to your own body and your intuition when it comes to how to eat and move your body. You really don’t have to be perfect, it can be easy and natural to find your ideal, healthy body once you have the basic knowledge and set off in the right direction. I can teach you about the power of certain foods and how to build your plate and set up your day for maximum success but at the end of the day it is you that is in charge. Consistency and compassion for yourself are the keys to success, NOT being perfect.

Over to you…

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How to enjoy exercise and healthy eating

Today’s topic is how to enjoy exercise and healthy eating and make getting healthy fun. It will be a short post today as it’s Saturday and we have been out all day enjoying nature. It’s getting late and I am tired and hungry. We drove down to Saronida this afternoon and went for a walk on the beach even though it was pretty cloudy and windy. We just needed to get out of Athens and get some fresh air. This lockdown has been loooong! Even though we managed to get out for a hike and to see some friends over Christmas it is really starting to drag now and there’s still no end in sight.

Anyway, I thought that today is as good a day as any to remind you to have fun as you work towards your health and weight loss goals, in case you forgot! And give you some tips on how to enjoy exercise and healthy eating so that you can stick to your healthy lifestyle and reach your goals. Wherever you are on your health journey. Whether you are just starting out changing your lifestyle or you have been focusing on health and fitness for years.

Don’t forget that the purpose of improving your health is to enjoy your life more. Getting healthy really doesn’t have to be a chore. If you hate your diet and your workout routine feels like hell, try something different. If you hate yoga and meditation, you have to don’t do it! There isn’t one road to health so experiment and find what works for you. Find how to enjoy exercise and healthy eating and make getting healthy fun and it will be much easier!

I used to believe that controlling everything from restricting the foods on my plate to sticking to the same, high intensity workout regime was what I needed to do if I wanted to reach my health goals. I never really thought about whether I actually enjoyed it or not it was just something I had to endure. Nowadays my approach is definitely more fun! I practice yoga because I love it and dance because I love it. And I eat in a way that I genuinely enjoy. If I’m not enjoying something and my body is sending me a hell no signal, I listen rather than push through it.

Of course I still challenge myself. For example, right now me and my boyfriend are working up to running 5km in 30 minutes. But if we had planned a run and I am feeling exhausted on the day, I won’t feel like a failure if I skip it. I know when to push and rest. And I remember how to enjoy exercise and healthy eating!

I always recommend to focus on building healthy, sustainable habits that you enjoy rather than a quick fix. You don’t want to lose weight and also lose your sanity. Even if your goal is to lose weight, focus on health first and your body will find it’s happy place. If you focus on weight loss alone and you just might lose health in the process. Remember that health doesn’t always equal weight loss. On that note, here are a few of my tips on how to enjoy eating healthy food and how to make fitness fun!

How to enjoy eating healthy food

  • Get creative and take the effort to make your plate look pretty, even if you’re eating alone
  • Have plenty of variety in your diet
  • Try out a new food or recipe at least once a week. Even more if you have the time and the energy
  • Get your family involved and share your healthy meals with them so that you don’t feel left out
  • Don’t feel like you have to deprive yourself of all treats, remember the 80:20 rule!
  • Remind yourself that your taste buds adjust over time and you will genuinely start to crave healthy foods

Fun ways to improve your fitness

  • Try out a dance class, learn salsa, street dance or ballet
  • Experiment with gymnastics, acro-yoga or rock climbing
  • Get fit with friends, join a running group, cycling club. Or try out group exercise classes (as long as you can social distance)
  • Mix things up, if you normally exercise in the gym then get outdoors or vice versa
  • Listen to music or a fun podcast as you walk
  • Try out a yoga or fitness challenge at home to keep you motivated

And finally, remember that even though things might feel difficult and impossible to enjoy at the beginning, it does get easier! Once you start to eat healthier foods on a regular basis, your taste buds will change over time. I promise, there will come a the point where you actually enjoy and even crave them. As you improve your fitness you will start to enjoy moving your body more and more. Keep things simple, have fun and be kind to yourself.

Today’s challenge: Reflect on your own health regime

I hope you enjoyed these quick tips on how to enjoy exercise and healthy eating. Your challenge for today is to reflect on your own “health regime”. Ask yourself whether you genuinely enjoy the things you are doing. If not, how could you make it more fun?

Over to you…

  • Comment: What are your tips on how to enjoy exercise and healthy eating?
  • Like this post and share to support my business
  • Follow my blog for more posts on nutrition, yoga and holistic health

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