“Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.” - Brene Brown
As an entrepreneur in the health and wellness world I have often worn my perfectionistic tendencies like a badge of honor. I never miss a workout, skip the dessert at the office potlucks, and try to constantly put out new content on my social media pages. This is what I am supposed to be doing right?
The health industry is saturated with people who are obsessed with perfectionism. The average person looks up to the #fitspos because of their dedication. They are in awe that these crazy fit people never miss a Monday and have the strength to say no to the birthday cake at every party. While perfectionism may be helping them maintain those #fitgoals, it is likely costing them greatly in other areas.
“Perfectionists have an all-or-nothing mindset that’s propelled by a crippling fear of failure. They also have what’s called conditional self-worth. They think ‘I am only a good person if I can achieve these things,” explains Elizabeth Lombardo, author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love.
Being someone running a business in the health and wellness realm, I know that I have struggled with conditional self-worth (and have throughout my life) and believe that many fitness entrepreneurs do. We often tie our value to our ability to appear fit. How will I get clients if I don’t have a obliques? Will they think I am worthy to coach them if they see me eating cake?
On the other side of the coin, many of the clients I work with struggle to get started with transforming their health because they haven’t found the perfect workout plan or diet to follow. The need to be perfect holds them back from doing anything because they don’t want to be seen as a failure.
Social media has amplified this feeling to always perform, creating even more pressure to maintain or improve in “fill in the blank”. The implications for mental health are clear when we talk about this kind of pressure, but many people don’t realize that perfectionism can also be costing them their physical health.
Perfectionism puts the body under chronic stress. Whether you are trying to always maintain the perfect physique, be the perfect mom, or appear that your new business venture is going perfectly, this stress isn’t good. Our bodies were designed to manage short-term stress responses, which we would have time to recover from after the immediate threat was gone, but when someone struggles with perfectionism that stress response is prolonged and takes a toll on the major systems of the body, including our immune system. By constantly striving for perfection there is an increased risk of illness and chronic disease.
Ok, so perhaps you are like me and are freaking out a little bit because you have been proudly wearing your name tag that says “hi, I’m a perfectionist” all the time. I have been taking steps to help combat perfectionism and so can you!
Here are 5 things I have been doing daily to combat perfectionism:
Like all of our goals, calming our inner perfectionist takes time and practice. It will require you to have honest conversations with yourself and practice grace. You are capable of reaching for the stars without hurting your health.
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She specializes in empowering women to nourish their relationship with their bodies by making friends with food and exercise. She takes a holistic bio-individualized approach, acknowledging that everyone’s journey to wellness looks different and that what we eat often has little to do with the food itself. Living in a society that puts the information for every new fad diet at our fingertips makes it difficult to navigate the health and wellness information available. Jennifer will help support you in finding the foods that do work for your body and develop an action plan to implement lifelong behavioral changes, improving your quality of life and creating the best version of you. In her free time Jennifer is listening to her favorite podcast, in the weight room with her husband, or cuddling her two fur-babies Mia and Potter.
Therapist. Millennial. Social Worker. Dog Mom. Friend. Sister. Empath. INFJ. Lover of ice cream.