Devising a Saturday workout…

Saturday’s are reserved for recovery workouts. Saturday’s workout is the one that I do not have very well planned out. I generally have months of workouts planned – making it easy to roll out of bed and make it to the gym before work. Today is Saturday. I do not have a workout. Yesterday was my rest day, so I would typically engage in some form of intense metabolic conditioning. And here I am, writing again with my coffee. And there is a reason I am still sitting here (God has a plan) – Monday is April 1. What does that mean? Assessment time and time to repeat my workout and see if I have improved since my baseline workout in January.

Calculate and devise

As I am training for a half marathon in May, tomorrow is a 10K at race pace. With that in mind, I need to be kind to my legs today. I am inclined to exhaust my upper body – but that may still inhibit my Monday performance. So. What to do, what to do?

It is simple!
407

A recovery workout!

Okay, so different than my normal Saturday recovery workout. I ask myself, what would I do the day before the half marathon? That is what I will do today! No heavy lifting. No intense aerobics. A little running. A little bodyweight action to keep my joints lubricated and moving. Ah-ha!

My Saturday workout

A rarity – Here share my workout. I do not generally do this – for giving something away for free tends to decrease that things value. Do not get me wrong, I am glad to have individuals come and workout WITH me. And I provide clients and friends with a certain amount of additional access. But this is not the beginning of me posting all my workouts!

Warmup
Jog @ 5 mph – 4 minutes
10 Squat Jumps x 6 :30 rest
Circuit (4 sets x 12 reps)
Bodyweight Squats
Lateral Pendulum Lunge (12/each)
Supine Medicine Ball Diagonal Chops (12/each)
Crunches
Dumbbell Bent Over Rows As little rest as needed

Note: I attempted an internet search for both the lunges and chops to link to videos, but I could not find any that accurately present the exercise. I will attempt my own videos soon and add the links. The chop is similar to this but lying on the ground.

The bottomline

It is important to be body smart. Killing yourself in the gym every day is not necessarily the route to results. In fact, I generally do not encourage ‘killing yourself in the gym.’ There is a difference between working hard and smart and killing yourself in the gym – I prefer the former.

How do you work hard in the gym?

Headstands versus handstands

This post will be short, sweet and to the point. One of my goals for 2013 is to be able to do headstands and handstands with complete control. So I practice. This is what I am finding: powerful

Headstands are far easier than handstands!

Does that mean my neck is stronger than my arms and shoulders? No, it is because my shoulders are always exhausted – I need to give them more rest!

The bottomline

I have learned another tidbit about the importance of rest. If I truly want to attain my goals, I may need to cut back on my shoulder work…

When foods are triggers

I believe we all have them – we just may not be aware of them: Trigger foods. These are foods that lead us to eat mindlessly, to binge or simply overeat, to eat without ever feeling satiated (or satisfied), or to restrict eating. I became aware of a trigger food for myself last week: Starburst Jelly Beans.

Danger!

I have known that I LOVE Starburst Jelly Beans. They are the only jelly beans I like and they have become my favorite springtime treat. When I saw the Fave Reds in the store – I just had to pick some up. The problem? I am not able to eat them in moderation. The jelly beans – I know now – are a trigger food for me. (I should know that red means danger!)

Emotional eating triggers

Not the topic of this post but worth mentioning are situational triggers. These are the triggers we are most familiar with and most often encouraged to identify. Examples of these triggers include:

  1. A bad day at the office or at home
  2. An argument with a loved one or friend
  3. Tiredness/exhaustion
  4. Not feeling physically well

Identifying trigger foods

It is not always as easy as it may seem to identify trigger foods. Sure, some of us know it is chocolate, or chips. But what about dairy? Or how about coffee – do you always need something sweet in addition to your hot coffee? This might be a trigger.

In order to manage your triggers (food or situational), you first have to know what type of eater you have become. There are several types of eaters: Mindful eaters, mindless dieters, mindless over-eaters, mindless under-eaters, and chaotic eaters. This is a commonly used checklist to help you identify what type of eater you are.

Check all that apply:

Mindful Eater
All foods in some moderation. Flexible about eating
Student of nutrition.  Aware of nutritional needs. Able to meet body’s needs
In touch with physical body and body’s needs—hunger, fullness
Eats when hungry and stops when full
Nonjudgmental of self, redirects thoughts to positive thoughts, accepting of body
Understands the impact of food on health and well-being
Enjoys food but not obsessed
Only eats mindlessly on occasion
Recovers quickly when mindless eating does occur
Mindless Dieter
Has tried multiple yo-yo type diets.  Fad follower
Spends money on different diets
Feels really guilty when eating poorly
Ignores that taste of diet food—it is eating that matters
Has a ”hard to obtain” body image and feels bad about not having it
Studies food labels and tries to follow “food rules” (not nearly 100%)
Mindless Overeater
Yo-Yo Club Star Member
Ups and downs in weight
Eats until miserable.
Aware of being full but keeps eating anyway
Picks at foods without true enjoyment
Feels out of control and unable to stop
Has intense food cravings – gotta have it!
Tries to eat alone—feels embarrassed
Uses food to comfort self
Uses food to maintain pleasant feelings
Specific food cravings
Often eats alone
Mindless Undereater
Skimps on nutritional needs
Obsessed about calories, fat grams, and other single components of food
Worries a lot about weight
Has high self-image when hungry
Isolates self instead of eating with others—has an excuse not to go to lunch
Fears loss of control
Desires perfection—always trying to obtains
Eliminates certain food groups to save on calories
Mindless Chaotic Eater
May purge to compensate for overeating
Has major swings in weight
Will make large purchases of food and will restrain from eating—perceived binge
Make over exercise to make up for overeating
Thinks critically about self
Uses food to cope with negative self-image
Uses food to “tune out” or “numb out”
Feels empty or lonely a majority of the time
Eats while multi-tasking
Seldom feels full

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is critical to identifying triggers. Are you prone to bingeing only on chips? Chips may be a trigger food. This could be ANYTHING for anyone. Trigger foods are usually sweet or salty – as these most significantly effect the rewards center of your brain.

Need help with mindful eating? I recommend tracking your food and I especially love the Recovery Record.

The bottomline

Yes, undesirable eating behaviors – undereating or overeating – are often preceded by emotional situations or triggers. But sometimes, the foods themselves can be a trigger to start eating and not stop. It is also important to note that these are not always unhealthy foods. For example, peanut butter is a trigger food for me and I must be incredibly mindful when I consume it.

Do you have trigger foods?

Do what you love…and do it often

What do you love to do? How often do you do it? I believe that we have each been blessed with passions in our hearts – and that these passions have purpose. Are you passionate about your day-to-day life? Sure, some parts of life are less than enjoyable, but think big picture. What excites you? What gives you energy and focus? When you find what you love and pursue it, life no longer feels so much like work – or so it is said.

A life transition This is your life

If you can make your passion your career – you are in a wonderful position. I recently made the decision to step away from making a full-time career of my passion – temporarily. I love the change in pace. I love working with incredibly intelligent individuals. I love having ‘normal’ work hours.

Although I am still in the position to significantly impact and improve lives – the outcome is different. The reward is different. And my level of passion is not the same. While my current position is an important stepping stone towards my dream, I am keeping my eyes set on what I love – while adding valuable experience to me expertise and increasing my credentials.

How do you do what you love?

Quit your job

Been there and done that – maybe too many times during my short time as a working adult. Thankfully, in most instances I had better opportunities lined up. If you do not like your job – find another one. Yes, this is easier said than done, but I have done it and it is worth it. During my career in publishing, all of my coworkers talked about “selling their souls” to the company – I was not going to allow myself to get sucked into that mentality. They were all miserable and content, in a  high stress, deadline-driven environment. I had to get out – for my mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Overall, does your job improve your life?

Stop watching TV

Do not have time? I hate that excuse. I do not let clients use it – and I dislike when I catch myself using it. It is a limiting belief. It is a default answer, and not always a sincere one. I have always managed to find time for everything – at times working full-time, part-time, and a full-time graduate student. And now, working full-time, part-time (in three different capacities) and working on my business plan. For Lent, my roommate and I gave up watching Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Thank goodness!! This has given me the time to write blog posts (as I seem to have become insanely busy).

The average U.S. adult watches 5 hours of television every day. EVERY DAY! This is amazing. Not only is this primarily sedentary time, it is time that we could use to do the things that we say we do not have time to do. I am guilty of watching a few hours of television most nights – and I am most often multi-tasking and not truly watching the television.

Can you watch less television?

Life is simple

I hope that my posts can help others to understand how simple many aspects of life are – particularly health and wellness. It may not be easy, but it is simple. The health and weight loss industry wants us to believe that everything is complicated – that is how they make money! Do not fall for it. Similarly, do not fall for the ‘easy’ gimmick solutions that charge a ton of money.

With regards to weight loss, health improvements, and fitness improvements, it is not as simple as fewer calories in and more calories out. However, it is very simple. Think Positively. Eat Mindfully. Move Intentionally.

How can you perceive life more simply?

Share your passion

It should be pretty obvious that I share my passion through this blog – among other ways. With energy and vigor. Sometimes I become heated about topics. Other times I am calm, collected, and share the inner workings of my heart and mind. Regardless, it is my passion educate and inspire others to make healthy lifestyle choices that improve quality of life. Through this blog, I am able to continue to live my dream.

What can you share?

Go out and start creating

And creating I am! I am building a strong foundation from which to launch my personal and professional dream. It is in the works. I have a few creative minds on my team (you know who you are!!) and we are moving surely but surely ahead. I am creating my niche. And I am creating happy, healthy people.

What can you create?

The bottomline

Life may not be easy, but it is simple. I am learning this more and more each day. I am also learning the value of living your dream – as I take this temporary step aside on the route to my dream (but still aligned – fear not). And I am more driven that ever to live MY dream.

“Whether you believe you can, or can’t, you are right.” – Henry Ford

The power of a compliment

You never know what a compliment might do!

I will keep this short. I received two powerful compliments in the last two days – during a time of heightened insecurity and self doubt. The first – a compliment from a coworker about how amazing my arms look. The second – a compliment from an older, physically fit gentleman at the gym where I teach and train. He mentioned to the gym owner and staff while pointing at me – “You don’t see a lot of women who can do the full straight leg raises like she was doing. It’s very impressive!

I replied, “Thank you, I train hard and appreciate the compliment.” He said a little more about it, but I was too busy thinking positive thoughts to hear him!

I have been known to be significantly self conscious about my appearance. There was a period when I received a lot of comments like, “Oh, you workout?” Really, I do not look like I workout? That frustrated me – I worked out so hard and yet it was unnoticeable. I was told that only the naive and ignorant would look at me and not know that I workout. But – it has happened a lot!

I have this issue when it comes to my torso. Despite the fact that I can physically perform exercises that most women cannot – I feel that my physical appearance does not display this. How come I do not have washboard abs – like some women I know who are not able to do half of what I can. I sometimes allow myself to become defeated by my physical display of imperfection.

So with this man’s comment – he noticed something that I had felt was unnoticed and unnoticeable. He showed me an error in my thinking.  He validated all of my hard work! And all he had to do was verbalize a compliment – something many people may have thought but never thought to say. And now….all I want to do is go to the gym and do more hanging leg raises.

How can you compliment others today?

The ups and downs of the kipping pullup

There is a lot of hype surrounding kipping pullups. I recently had a group of guys impressed by the fact that I could perform kipping pullups – although I am not sure why. You see, they had not been impressed with my deadhang pullups – completed just prior to the kipping pullups. And what is a kipping pullup? Cheating on a pullup.

I do kipping pullups, so I am not opposed to them. I just do not want anyone believing that they will help them be capable of doing strict or deadhang pullups. They are different exercises – with completely different emphases. Here are my ups and downs of the kipping pullup.

The ups

  1. Increased confidence as a result of personal achievement and ability to quickly improve reps and yield a high volume of reps.
  2. Friendly competition (due to the ease in achieving volume compared to deadhang).
    pullups
  3. Mastery of the technique requires self-trust.
  4. They are fun.

The downs

  1. Increased risk of injury – particularly crucial for athletes to be conscientious about – due to the joint strain and repetitive nature.
  2. They do not translate into the ability to perform deadhang pullups. You can argue with me if you want to, but especially as they are taught at CrossFit gyms, there is no lattisimus dorsi recruitment in a kipping pullup. A deadhang pullup is initiated by this recruitment. The kipping pullup is momentum based, not strength based.
  3. It requires greater than average gripping ability (not necessarily grip strength).
  4. They are cardiovascularly exhausting (oh, have I mentioned that as a momentum-based exercise it is therefore a predominantly cardiovascular exercise – like most CrossFit exercise designs).
  5. They will not generalize to anything else in life – except maybe gripping ability on monkey bars???
  6. They will not improve fitness.

The bottomline

A kipping pullup is not a progression towards a strict, deadhang pullup. Hence, why kipping pullups are not part of my training for my 2013 pullup goal. My goal specific training is all pullups, assisted pullups, and lat pulldowns! I just do kipping pullups for fun.

Have anything to add to my ups and downs?

Super Woman is not real!

I know a lot of women whom I have never seen in the same room as Super Woman. Okay, so I have never seen Super Woman (she’s not real), but that is besides the point. What I have noticed is that these women put too much pressure on themselves. I admit, I am likely one of these women – and this is probably why we are such great friends and have such immense love for one another. But lately, I have been hearing a lot of negativity, hurt, and pain. Having self expectations are good up until the point when they becoming self harming.

For some women I know, I would attribute some of the negativity to physical and emotional burnout. Others, physical overtraining and burnout. You know who you are and yes I am writing to you! I hear: 

I am a bad mom!

I am a bad friend!

I do not have time for me! or anything!

I do not workout enough! or I did not run far enough! or I do not run often enough!

And what I am hearing are all of the things that she did not do and I am hearing nothing about all of the things that she DID do!

There are no Super Women

Super Woman was a comic book hero – she is not real. There are no real Super Women – hiding capes. You may sometimes feel like the world, your family, and your friends are asking you to be Super Woman, but they are not. More often than not – everyone would appreciate seeing that you are human. So breathe. Take time to enjoy the day. And do not put so much pressure on yourself to be everything to everyone all of the time.

It is okay to miss a workout – No one ever died from an acute lack of exercise. However, individuals have died as the result of excessive exercise. Use that as food for thought.

Teenage children –– will ‘hate’ you regardless. Do not worry about bending over backwards to be the ‘best’ mother in their eyes.

Maintain boundaries – Most women I know need to practice using the response, “NO!” This is easier said than done. However, the more we say it, the easier it becomes. And ultimately, we will gain more respect from others when doing so.

Social support – More than anything, we need support. Spouses, running pals, mentors, mental health professionals, book clubs – wherever you may get it. We all need someone to simply listen at times – not necessarily provide feedback or advice. Have a safe social support system in your back pocket.

Some of my closest friends are the women I run with. We became amazingly close after a 200-mile relay adventure in 2011. Each year the group grows – and our support grows. While I hate running, I love my Fit Chix with Quick Stix! At times, I believe that each one of these woman are Super Woman – business owners, cancer survivor, mothers, coaches, educators, chefs, bakers, crafters, shoppers, chauffeurs, singers, stupid human tricksters, etc. But I know better — Super Woman is not real.

The bottomline

I initially thought this post would be about ways to avoid burnout. But we know how – we have heard it all a million times. The hard part is applying it. So my final thought is simply this – be kind to yourself. And remember all the things that you have done and do and focus less on what you have not done.

I wish that I had something super enlightening to share with you, but I do not. But to all my ‘Super Woman’ out there – you inspire me daily!

 

Response: Mediterranean Diet not for weight loss

I read a blog post yesterday about the Mediterranean Diet. The post (specific author unknown to me and brought to me by my Facebook newsfeed) proposes that the Mediterranean Diet is not conducive to weight loss and declares that it is only good for improving heart health. This is an incredibly superficial understanding of nutrition and naive perspective. I would even go so far as to say that posting such information is professional negligence or malpractice.

I strongly believe that you should get your nutrition advice from a qualified nutrition professional. I AM NOT ONE. I feel like I have been writing more about nutrition than exercise or mental strategies lately – I only intend to make you think critically and then get the answers you need. And when I read posts like this and hear a story of a nutritionist telling a friend that a vegetable is not a carbohydrate (yes, true story), I become infuriated. It makes me angry and it makes me sad. As if individuals are not confused enough! This world is infiltrated with hogwash and I intend to do my small part to call attention to it.

Mediterranean Diet = weight loss?

Yes, a Mediterranean Diet will yield weight loss. The poorly misguided post ‘cites’ research (that focused on heart risks, bias much?) that claimed a Mediterranean diet improved heart health but did not result in weight loss. I put cites in quotes because the author claims that the New England Journal of Medicine conducted the research – really? A journal did research? More like researchers were published in the journal. But hey, it’s close and shows that the author does not understand how to accurately read and present research.

Moving on. Yes, the Mediterranean Diet is best known for its coronary benefits. Along with dietary guidelines, the diet emphasizes plenty of exercise. So, while weight loss may not have been significant in the study, fat loss probably was significant and not measured. Numerous studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet shows improved weight loss over other weight loss strategies (Mohamed, El-Swefy, Rashed, & Abd El-Latif, 2010; Razquin, Martínez, Martínez-González, Salas-Salvadó, Estruch, & Marti, 2010; Serra-Majem, Roman, & Estruch, 2006).

NOTE: Without proper citation by the author, I was unable to locate the so-called research among the thousands of articles published in the NEJM. Therefore, my argument is anecdotal but based on years of personal research and education.

Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

Beyond heart benefits, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to increase fat loss (Serra-Majem, Roman, & Estruch, 2006). It is also known to prevent and ‘cure’ diabetes (Serra-Majem, Roman, & Estruch, 2006; Walker, O’Dea, Gomez, Girgis, & Colagiuri, 2010), decrease mental decline, reduce insulin resistance, and reduce metabolic disorders (which have a high comorbidity with overweight/obesity).

And I refer you to a nutrition professional for additional information.

Basic nutrition

This brings me back to the fact that very few weight loss “professionals” have an understanding of the basic nutrition principles and processes. It is appalling to me that any weight loss company would publish such hogwash. Seriously. A Mediterranean Diet not a weight loss diet? HOGWASH! I will over simplify this: A diet of fruits, veggies, lean meats, and healthy fats won’t yield weight loss? But a diet of Fig Newtons and graham crackers with pudding is a better solution (per the post’s publisher)?

I think it’s time to come back to the basics. I read textbooks for my information – but I realize this is too dense and time consuming for most individuals. I am beginning to put together a resource list of videos and websites to help my friends and readers increase personal understanding of nutrition!

The bottomline

I am not promoting a Mediterranean Diet. Nor am I discouraging it. I believe that the guidelines are reasonable and will work for some and will be difficult for others – as like any other change. It is not significantly different from a a low-carbohydrate diet, a low-glycemic index diet, or a Paleo diet. The most critical commonality? Eating more REAL food and less processed and packaged junk.

Further, this absurdity highlights the importance of weight loss versus fat loss. Body composition will often improve with no change in weight – with proper lifestyle improvements.

Lastly, please be a critical consumer. It is sad that I read this post on a page that I believed I could trust (at least to a certain degree). I now know otherwise.

References

Mediterranean-Style Diet Counters Metabolic Syndrome. (2011). Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter29(6), 6.

Mohamed, H. E., El-Swefy, S. E., Rashed, L. A., & Abd El-Latif, S. K. (2010). Obesity and neurodegeneration: effect of a Mediterranean dietary pattern. Nutritional Neuroscience13(5), 205-212.

Razquin, C. C., Martínez, J. A., Martínez-González, M. A., Salas-Salvadó, J. J., Estruch, R. R., & Marti, A. A. (2010). A 3-year Mediterranean-style dietary intervention may modulate the association between adiponectin gene variants and body weight change. European Journal Of Nutrition49(5), 311-319.

Serra-Majem, L., Roman, B., & Estruch, R. (2006). Scientific Evidence of Interventions Using the Mediterranean Diet: A Systematic Review. Nutrition Reviews64(2), S27-S47.

Walker, K. Z., O’Dea, K. K., Gomez, M. M., Girgis, S. S., & Colagiuri, R. R. (2010). Diet and exercise in the prevention of diabetes. Journal Of Human Nutrition & Dietetics23(4), 344-352.

Planning a day of nothing

There is nothing on my calendar today. No classes to teach. No clients to train nor coach. No social events. Nothing. On my drive home from work last night (which was LONG due to inclimate weather), I told myself that I would allow myself to sleep in and then do nothing today – only leaving the house to workout.

I am amazed by how unmotivated I am. I awoke early, but remained in bed, reading and relaxing. I also began to plan out my day (yes, planning my day of nothing).

I should get out and shovel.

I should start some coffee – it will help me become motivated.

I should plan my workout – I can go to an empty gym this afternoon and do anything I want!!!

I should do laundry.

I should do my taxes.

I remained in bed. I was unmotivated. I sent a text to my former workout partner – we now live 5+ hours apart – expressing my lack of motivation. She concurred. HOW am I going to find some motivation, I asked myself.

Step 1 – Get out of bed.

Step 2 – Put contacts in so I can see.

Step 3 – Brew and drink coffee.

Step 4 – Just do it.

So here I am. Writing this post, drinking coffee, and occasionally looking out the window at the snow on the driveway. I guess I ought to go do something about that. And I will, as soon as I am done with this cup of coffee – – – –

Striving for perfection

I like structure, order, and routine. I like for things to be perfect. I like things neat. I like things complete. I like things where I leave them. I like things in the order that I am used to having them in. I like complete sentences and proper spelling. I like to arrive ON TIME. I like legible handwriting. Some individuals would mislabel me as one with obsessive-compulsive disorder (These characteristics fall more closely within the scope of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, anyway).

I am a perfectionist.

This past weekend I made my roommate a birthday cake. I slightly modified the recipe – making the cake smaller (thank goodness!) and reducing some of the unnecessary sugar accents. When assembling the multi-layer cake, my need for perfection was evident – I even made commentary about it during the process. I wanted every edge to be straight and lined up. I wanted perfectly perpendicular angles. I wanted it to support itself perfectly without collapsing. I wanted the corners to match up perfectly – the candy bar border doing its job of containing the dark chocolate ganache. I wanted it to look just so. And for what? To cut it and eat it. But it was important to me that my work was presented as flawless. This cake was representative of my workmanship and abilities – nothing but the best! I wanted it to be P. E. R. F. E. C. T.

per·fect (adj)

1. conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type.
2. excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement.
3. exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose.
4. entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings.
5. accurate, exact, or correct in every detail.

Origins of perfectionism

I am not blaming my childhood; but rather, using it as an explanation. Childhood sets the foundation from which the remainder of life is built on. I was raised to believe that I had to be perfect – everything I did needed to be perfect or it needed to be done again. Eighteen years (and plus some hours, days, and months) of being told, “Do it right or I will have to do it myself.” or “You will do it until you get it right.” is difficult to erase – specially when the assessor is a perfectionist. As a result, I placed all of my self-worth in the ability to be perfect – produce perfect products and results.

As a near my 30th birthday, I have been working hard to overdome my childhood experiences – but it is extremely difficult to stray from what is known – particularly when you have been rewarded based on your perfection (or so was perceived). Graduating with honors and earning promotion after promotion led me to academic and professional success. The problem was, I was never satisfied. My work was never perfect (although I did have a managing editor who required 100% accuracy to meet job requirements at review time) and could always be better, in my eyes.

Perfect or not at all

perfect

“If you cannot do it right then do not do it at all.” What a mentality! But it has stuck with me. I do not do things that I am not good at. I have difficulty doing things that I am only mediocre at. It is better to not show up than to be late. I wear little to no makeup – because it is better to have none than to have imperfect makeup. I rarely style my hair – because it is better to have messy hair than imperfectly styled hair (this would show that I put the effort in and could not do it perfectly).

Similarly, I am often hesitant to try new things – for fear of not being able to do them well (not specifically failure). I like to stick with what I know and what I know that I can do well.

Overcoming perfectionism

I do not know how to overcome perfectionism – oh, how I wish I did! A specialist once told me that he had never worked with an individual with such an ingrained need for perfection. Mental exercise after exercise have not broken through the stronghold. I do have temporary periods free from perfectionism. If I had to quantify it, I would say that I am 20% better than I used to be – meaning that I only need to be perfect 80% of the time as opposed to 100%.

I want to be careful and note that I am not labeling perfectionism as a negative personality trait. However, it disrupts my life and therefore requires change and improvement – from my perspective.

Perfectionism leads to procrastination

If I am concerned about not being able to complete something perfectly, I procrastinate until I can procrastinate no more. I will avoid things at all costs – often times even tasks that I have never performed before because I am frozen in fear that I will not complete it perfectly. I have discussed that most fears are not real. Why is my fear of imperfection so powerful and life impacting? I have vivid memories of sewing projects that had to be done over and over until done perfectly – when all I wanted to do was go outside and play. I remember baking dozens and dozens of muffins, cupcakes, breads, cookies – only done when I had enough perfect ones to present. Do you know how much time I spent re-doing things as a child? Too many – and I find myself slipping into that habit on occasion as an adult. I would rather procrastinate and avoid – and use that time for something I enjoy!

Perfectionism and this blog

My perfectionism inhibits my ability to publish to this blog. This post has sat for several days and I know that I will never be satisfied. I have several dozen posts sitting as drafts – discontent with one aspect or another. I want them to be perfect. In my mind, my posts can only be impactful if they are perfect – anything less would be a waste of my readers’ and my time. Whoa! Yes, I said that – that is my automatic negative thought process.

There are times that I post hastily, more often when I am infuriated with a health and fitness topic or gimmick.

The bottomline

One of my greatest obstacles in life is my perfectionism. I am aware of this and have been working to reduce its averse effects for the greater part of ten years. I have made great strides in the last few years, with the help of professionals, colleagues, and friends. But perfection is a bit of a double-edged sword. It has led to career success. It has led me to develop incredibly effective and useful strategies for completing tasks (e.g., organizational processes, routine development). My perfection continually pushes me to be better – never complacent with what I have nor where I am. Perfectionism is frequently rewarded.

But my perfectionism causes me to freeze – preventing me from personal growth. It cultivates an intense fear of failure. I know that is not healthy and I am working on it. I have written about conquering fear and I know that it is possible – it just takes baby steps sometimes.

Are you a perfectionist?