I don’t like to eat 2 different colored candies. For example, if there is a bowl of starburst in front of me I need to eat 2 pinks or 2 yellows. Eating 1 yellow and 1 pink is not an option. A bowl of M&Ms in the office, I must eat 2 blues or 2 reds. Hershey’s miniatures assortment mix, always 2 Mr. Goodbar’s. Some people know this about me. Some don’t.
However, although typing it sounds weird, I think if we all think for a moment we can identify an obsessive ritual we have with food. Or an obsessive ritual we have with dieting.
I thought about this when I was at work the other day. I am trying to drink more water so I gave myself a goal of drinking 3 full cups throughout the day. I was passing the water cooler on my way back from a meeting and thought that I should refill my cup. The problem was that cup wasn’t quite empty yet and I wasn’t ready to take that last gulp. The obsession of perfection got the best of me because I didn’t fill up my cup in that moment. In fact, I never went back and filled up my water cup again that day. I thought about this again this week while wearing my new fitness tracker. One day I got home and had no more than 2,000 steps. I considering taking a couple laps around the block to get some more in but my obsessive mind went to the place of, “If I can’t get to 10,000 why even bother.”
For me, the feeling of strict compliance has always been exhilarating. Every time I’ve ever started a diet I’d pick the plan and do everything the diet instructions called for with extreme accuracy. I’d get out the measuring spoons, the measuring cups, perfectly portioning all food, making the drinks exactly as the diet instructed. I’m on a strict compliance high. The problem with perfection is, one slip up and I become a bicycle going downhill with no breaks. I can’t stop myself unless I vow to start another perfect plan. Of course the perfection pays off, but perfection also severely holds us back from realistic progress. Instead of taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back, this mentality usually causes us to take two steps forward and 3 steps back.
The secret, I have learned, to lasting success isn’t about finding the plan that works. It’s not about finding a diet that helps us lose the most weight. The secret to success is understanding ourselves emotionally. Understanding the chaotic rituals we have picked up around food. And giving ourselves permission to not be perfect. Weight loss isn’t about finding the perfect diet, it’s about learning how to diet imperfectly.