Perfectionism And The Struggle With Weight Loss

I have not met a chronic dieter who did not struggle with perfectionism. While their goal is weight loss, it never works out the way they plan. It’s really interesting because many of my clients think that people who meet them automatically assume they are lazy and just lack willpower because they are overweight. Actually, it is quite the opposite. My clients are some of the hardest working people I know, but time and time again, their perfectionism tends to send them into a downward spiral when it comes to their attempts at weight loss. This might seem odd to some. The cornerstone of perfectionism is all or nothing thinking. “If I’m not perfect, I’m a failure”. My clients struggle with this one in several ways. If they go on a diet, it is the strictest diet possible and if they start exercising, it is all out. This is problematic because as soon as they experience anything that deviates from the plan, they lack the flexibility and self-compassion to keep going with their goals. They say that, “Life happens when you are making other plans” right? So, if you can’t eat according to the plan or stick to your exercise routine, all hope is out the window and there is no point in continuing to try. So, instead of eating one donut, you end up eating 4. Once you’ve eaten 4, you are heading down the rabbit hole. At that point, you give up and because you have already gotten that far, you may as well keep going, right? This is the biggest dilemma chronic dieters face. Every diet sparks hope that things will be different. Yet, each diet comes with more despair. Instead of going on another diet, why not address the underlying issue of perfectionism? This presents an interesting dichotomy. I bet you are thinking, “Well, if I give that up, all hope is lost.” Many dieters think this rigid process keeps them from gaining more weight, but it actually just keeps you stuck on the weight loss and weight gain roller coaster. If you just allowed yourself a little more compassion and flexibility, you will probably get closer to your goals.

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.

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