One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident


Elaine’s Corner: Perfection is the Enemy of Good

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I forgot to tell you Elaine took a vacation last week. Well, she’s back and she’s tackling perfection. A favorite subject of mine.

If you are new to Elaine’s series, click here and scroll down to start at the beginning.

Greetings! I’m back from vacation and a nasty 3-day flu thing and here to tell you guys how I kept my motivation high even when I wanted to eat the whole box of Cheez-Its on hour 22 of the car ride, gorge on cheesecake when my family upset me back home, or not move a muscle after feeling a little better from my flu!

As I was beginning to write this post, I went to Google and typed in “Perfection is the…” because I couldn’t quite remember the final part of the clause. Google spit back so many great options…


How true for all of these!! As a recovering perfectionist myself, I’m writing to both myself and you when I say that perfection really is the biggest beast to tackle on the healthy living front! How many of us have eaten the whole pint of ice cream because just two bites “ruined” the plan? How many of us have “quit” just until “after the holidays?” (Who? Me? Neverrr!)

I know this has caught me many, many times in the past. If I felt like I couldn’t be completely perfect with my eating, drinking water, and exercising, I just simply wouldn’t do it. Has this happened to you in the past? For me, slowly integrating healthy living in to my lifestyle in ways that don’t necessarily involve food (such as reading healthy living blogs every morning before starting the day, taking walk breaks at work because it peps me up and not worrying about the calorie burn, and living with two German Shepherds that require a lot of exercise!)After years of telling myself the same thing, even when I didn’t believe it one bit, I know now that perfection isn’t the goal! Happiness and healthiness and moderation are!

So, on vacation, I made sure to have a famous Primanti’s Brothers sandwich in Pittsburgh and pick up a bag of my favorite local potato chips, but noshed on fruit during the car ride and stayed completely away from empty calories like alcohol or excess sugar. I ate a mound of my mom’s famous fried potatoes but skipped the greasy chicken wings and mac n’ cheese. When I came home, I was ecstatic over the loss of 0.4 lbs on the scale! Years ago, I would have been terribly frustrated, disappointed that I didn’t lose my usual 2 lbs that week. Now, I see a small loss for what it is – not being a slave to food, my size, or my health. I enjoyed life and made small, smart choices.

How is perfection the enemy of good in your life? What can you do to overcome that? As we approach the diet-treacherous Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, what is your plan for living the mantra that “Perfection is the enemy of good?”

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There are 4 comments so far.


    November 10, 2010

    I definitely have a hard time with this. I’m so all or nothing. Even when I pay lip service to abandoning the pursuit of perfection, I don’t think I’m being honest. I think really I just shoot for perfection, knowing it’s impossible, and hoping I hit “good”. I’m not sure I can consciously do moderation. If I could, I wouldn’t have weighed 270#! Maybe just knowing that perfection is impossible, thereby not throwing in the towel when it is not achieved is okay. I hope so, because that’s what I have done to maintain my weight loss. I think I still strive for perfection, of course don’t achieve it, but don’t spin out of control (often or for very long anyway) due to the failure.

    Michele @ Healthy Cultivations

    November 10, 2010

    I think perfectionism certainly hinders healthy food and exercise choices, but it extends much further into every facet of life. Seeking perfection can mean we never complete projects in order to move on to the next one. It always means we’re never happy with our results… and that’s a miserable way to live.

    It’s important to take a step back and realize that striving for excellence is much more healthy than striving for perfection.


    November 10, 2010

    As I speak (or type rather) I am sitting in Starbucks. I came to get some work done and enjoy a tall coffee, but I simply could not resist a Gingerbread Latte. After having a little too much sugar yesterday (still without going over my calorie limit) I was going to take it easy today, but it looks like I’ll be faced with the same dilemma. But instead of beating myself up over it I already went to the starbucks website, got the calorie info (28g sugar! wow!) and entered it into my calorie counter app on my phone. And if these two days sets me back a pound, then so be it because I deserve to have a Gingerbread Latte during the holidays!


    November 10, 2010

    Great post! Thanks for the reminder (and for the fun Google)!