Eight years ago, I walked into Starbucks a block away from my law school with well laid plans to order a grande soy latte.
At the time, I was militant about my diet.
I’d read every diet book under the sun, watched excessive wellness documentaries, and researched the meal plans of all my favorite celebrities. Based on all the informational I’d gathered over years and years of diet culture consumption, I’d created a super strict eating and exercise plan for myself that I worked tirelessly to execute each day.
I wanted to follow it – every bite, every move, every calorie (consumed and burned) – perfectly.
I’d created a long list off foods that were off-limits, dirty, and bad. Luckily for me, the soy latte made it onto my safe, clean, and good list.
As I moved up in the line, I counted and re-counted the calories I had already eaten for the day in my head. Then, I re-counted one more time just to make sure I had permission to get the soy latte I was about to order.
“May I please have a grande soy latte?” I asked, exhausted from all the mental checking and re-checking. I paid, moseyed to the end of the counter, and waited until they called my order.
I picked up the soy latte and took a sip. Only what I tasted wasn’t soy milk. It was REAL milk! I full on panicked.
How many calories are in real milk?!
Is this skim? Whole? Cream?! OH PLEASE NO NOT CREAM!
Dairy is off-limits! Dirty! Bad!
I was eating so perfectly until that drop of dairy hit my lips! This day is ruined! I ruined this day!
My mind was racing so quickly that I hardly even noticed I had started to cry. Tears streamed down my face as the feelings of failure washed over me.
This would be my reality for a few more years. I continued to struggle with obsessively clean and restrictive eating, yo-yo-dieting, binges, daily anxiety, crappy body image, and so much fear.
I wondered if I would ever be able to have fun on vacation, stop feeling crazy around chocolate chip cookies, let a day go by without stressing about my weight, or be able to stop picking apart my “flaws” every time I saw a picture of myself. I wondered if I would ever be able to just relax long enough to enjoy the little moments in my life, like a latte at Starbucks.
I felt hopeless, desperate, and miserable.
I finally hit my rock bottom on my honeymoon. After a date filled with French wine and French fries, I started to feel guilty about my “unhealthy” choices. My mind was full of lots of icky thoughts, like “I should have ordered the salad,” “I definitely need to run extra tomorrow morning,” and “UGH I’m so gross.” When I went to the bathroom to put on my new black lingerie, I had a total meltdown and the night was ruined.
I couldn’t enjoy any of the amazing things in my life feeling like I did about myself. I was so held back because of the way I saw, thought about, and treated myself. I was wasting seriously precious moments freaking out and, on my honeymoon, it finally hit me that these were moments I would never get back.
Something had to change!
With a lot of support and intention, I came to the realization that I was terrified to give up my self-imposed demand to be perfect because I feared what would happen if I fell short.
I feared that I’d turn into a big pile of failure.
That I’d start eating baked goods and never stop. That I’d lay on the couch until the end of time with no motivation to move. That I’d suck at my job. That I’d become lazy, dumb, and gross. That I’d become unlovable.
For so long, I’d believed that I had really high standards for myself.
Isn’t that what makes someone successful? Isn’t that how dreams come true? Isn’t that how I live up to my potential? I’d thought.
What I’ve learned in my own struggle with perfectionism and from my incredible coaching clients is that while “perfect” can seem like a high standard, it’s actually an incredibly limiting belief.
If “perfect” is the standard, then anything less than “perfect” is failure. “Perfect” means you have two options…
- Something nearly impossible to attach and / or maintain; or
When you move away from the limiting belief of “everything is perfect or everything goes to hell,” you open yourself up to so much growth, success, presence, and joy. There is so much beautifully imperfect life between perfect and failure.
In fact, that in between is the place I’ve really found worth living in.
Today, I have the awesome privilege of helping women all over the world learn how to ditch perfection, heal their relationships with food and their bodies, and embrace their beautifully imperfect lives.
Is the limiting belief of “perfect” holding you back from experiencing growth, success, presence, and joy?
If so, I’d love you to join me in my free and private Facebook community, Beautifully Imperfect. Plus, enter to win a copy of my new book, Letting Go Of Leo: How I Broke Up With Perfection, here!