One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

INSIGHTS

5 Ways Ditching ‘Perfect’ has Made Me Happier, Healthier and More Successful

29 Comments 4663 views

These thoughts have been swimming in my head for a while. It was time to let them out.

1. Weight Loss

By far the most significant affect of ditching “perfect”  — and consequently the one that started me down an unperfectly happy path — was my diet. If you’ve read my weight story you know I have quite the history of yo-yo dieting. I even have a “cute” little flow chart that basically sums up my teens and 20s pretty well.

Encapsulated in that “I fail the new diet” block is my attempt to follow said new diet PERFECTLY and if I even slightly strayed — like one M&M strayed — from that new diet, then I failed. Game over. Time to binge.

By striving for the “perfect” diet I actually ended up eating anything but.  It didn’t matter how I defined “perfect” either: no carbs, only vegetables, fasting, juicing, unprocessed, etc., etc., etc. If I strayed just 1 calorie from the plan I’d walk away and declare weight loss impossible.

So here I am maintaining quite a weight loss for almost 8 years now.  I proved myself wrong, and a big part of that was ditching the idea of a “perfect” diet.

It wasn’t one M&M that prevented me from losing weight. It was the pound I ate out of frustration that I wasn’t perfect that was holding me back.

I know my diet will never, ever be perfect. I don’t even know what a perfect diet looks like. I don’t think anyone does.  I eat a variety of foods, focusing on fruits, vegetables, lean meats and overall less-processed choices. I also enjoy McDonald’s cones with my kids, popcorn at the movies and every once in awhile, Swedish fish with The Husband. If being perfect means giving those things up permanently, I’d rather be flawed.

It is possible to lose weight without being perfect. Consistency trumps perfection any day. That’s what I learned 8 years ago, and it not only helped me lose weight, but maintain the loss

2. Body image

Along the same lines as my diet, and using that same flow chart, let’s peer into the “I feel bad about my body” square.

I don’t remember a time I didn’t hate my body. As a teen I wanted nothing more than to look like an anorexic runway model — my idea of the “perfect” body back then — and I thought, if I’d just lose enough lose weight it was possible.

It didn’t happen.

Regardless of how much weight I lost, my broader shoulders, thicker arms, and dimply thighs are just a part of me.

I am perfectly imperfect and always will be. Realizing that allowed me to break out of the yo-yo diet cycle and lose weight in a healthy way.

I no longer pursue some perfect body — again, is there even one? I’m now much more interested in a healthy, strong one.

20130517_A

3. Managing my House

I don’t know how else to categorize this concept besides house management.

Without getting into some debate about male and female roles let’s just say most — OK, more like all — house-management stuff falls on my to-do list. I’m the catalyst for household chores and there was a time I would DO most of them as well.

Not anymore.

I’ve learned the art of delegating, but with delegating comes the realization that when you don’t do something, someone else does, and they probably aren’t going to do it the way you do. You know, the PERFECT way.

We all have our own “perfect” way to fold clothes, stack the dishwasher, make the bed, etc. Right? And if you delegate one of those tasks to the spouse or the kids what happens?

It doesn’t get done perfectly!

Of course.

Then you end up wondering why you asked for help in the first place because now it’s not done right and you’re angry and you’re stressed. You may even take on the martyr role and say something like, “FINE! I’ll just do it myself.”

OK, I’m saying “you” but I really mean ME. That’s exactly what USED to happen until I realized no one in the house cared how the clothes were folded, or the dishes were stacked, or the beds were made — I’m just making that one up because we don’t make beds in my house — except me.

Now the  7-year-old folds his own laundry, and let me tell you, he’s not very good at it. Do I fight every urge to grab the shirt from his whiny little hands and just fold the damn thing myself?

YES.

OMG yes.

But I don’t. His clothes don’t have to be folded perfectly. They just have to be folded. He’s learning a valuable lesson and so am I.  It’s a win-win.

I should add, my kitchen cabinets and draws are an absolute mess because I let both kids empty the dishwasher.

One day they will actually remember where everything goes. In the meantime, when I can’t find something I smile and think, perfect smerfect. I’d rather have kids that contribute and learn how to help, than a perfectly organized kitchen any day.

4. My Writing

I really don’t want to open up this can of worms but I will because it’s another example how not being perfect has helped me in the long run.

I’m not a writer. I don’t think I’m good at it. I can’t self-edit. I have horrible grammar, and frankly my 7-year-old spells better than I can.

Yet here I am writing this to you on a blog that I’ve written for 8 years. This is my job now. I write. I provide article for brands. I share stories of my kids on GreenLiteBites. I hope one day to write more about travel and share my experiences from around the world.

If I waited until every post was perfect I would never hit the publish button.  I do my best and it has taken me far. For Pete’s sake, it has given me a new career!

Sure, there are grammar czars out there who don’t respect me or what I do, because it’s not perfect — I’m not perfect — and I’m OK with that.

I wrote about this once before and I still stand by what I said back then:

I’m not polished and that’s sort of the point of what I do. I’m not creating a fake image or only sharing airbrushed photos of myself. I’m transparent, raw and real.

I post about my experiences and my life the best way I know how. I believe my thoughts, ideas and experiences are worth sharing, even with all spelling and grammatical errors.

5. My Marriage

20130510_comfort9

I don’t care what people say — marriage is hard. It’s not hard like enduring physical torture hard or running a marathon hard. There’s more to it than that.

It’s compromise and commitment, egos and passions, goals and desires. It’s a balancing act of interests without kids. Throw a toddler or two in the mix and you feel like you’re on a tight rope juggling blazing torches while balancing on a unicycle.

The Husband and I have been married for 12 years (together for 18) and honestly, we are both happier than ever. Well, maybe I shouldn’t speak for him. I AM happier than ever, even though our marriage is far from perfect.

There was a time I thought The Husband should be able to read my mind. If he was the perfect husband he should know what I need, when I need it. He should be able to sense my stress and draw me a bath. He should automatically get up with the kids in the morning when I stayed up too late working the night before. He should be able to handle dinner when I’m too tired.

HA!

He does none of those things.

Well, not unless I ask him to.

Once I stopped expecting my husband to be perfect, our relationship got stronger. Perfect Husbands don’t exist, but partners do, and partners ask for help when they need it. Partners communicate and compromise. Partners are aware of each other’s imperfections and accept each other anyway.

My diet, my body, my house, my career, and my marriage are all perfectly imperfect, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Are you still holding on to perfect? Is it holding you back? This is NOT a rhetorical question. I have comments turned on for a reason. :)



Leave a comment

I’d love to hear your story or thoughts on mine.

However, to prevent the massive amounts of spam I was receiving I have turned off comments on any post older than 5 days old. If you'd like to leave me a note regarding this post or anything really try me on twitter (@RoniNoone,) my Facebook page, or even IG (@RoniNoone) I'm so sorry for the inconvenience. I never thought I'd have to do this but it's gotten way out of hand and comment management has become simply too time consuming to manage.

Discussion

There are 29 comments so far.

    Rebecca Kate

    June 10, 2013

    This post could not have come at a better time. I’m sitting here nursing a nasty hangover from a night of too much fun and too many beers. My initial thoughts are “The only thing that cures a hangover is sugar and grease, so I can have Cokes and pizza.” This is an opportunity to not turn a night of slight imperfection into a two-week binge. So after I write this, I’ll get off my butt and walk it off instead of ordering pizza and watching TV and mentally punishing myself for a fun night out.

    Thanks for opening this honest dialogue for all of us and for continuing to inspire.

      Deb Marie

      June 12, 2013

      Paralyzed by perfection my whole life but learning s-l-o-w-l-y to let go of that elusive, not obtainable goal and go with the flow!

      Deb Marie

      June 12, 2013

      lol, far from perfect, I ended up posting this in the wrong “spot!”

    Margot

    June 10, 2013

    Hi Roni – Loooong time reader, but this is my first time posting. This post came just at the right time for me, so I just wanted to say thank you. I lost 55 pounds on WW and kept the weight off for 5 years and got heavily into triathlon, and even did an Ironman in 2011. I used a lot of the same strategies that you talk about in terms of maintaining my weight, and had never felt better about myself. And a large part of that feeling was the combination of feeling “in control” but also having the flexibility to not be perfect all of the time.

    Then after the Ironman I got pregnant and had a beautiful baby girl in October. I ate what I wanted during my pregnancy and gained about 40 pounds, but my doctor wasn’t concerned because I’m almost 6′ tall. But then after she was born I just KEPT eating. I’m now 5 pounds over my starting weight from all those years ago, facing down 60 pounds to lose and I’ve fallen into the “perfection” trap again. Somehow I’ve convinced myself that since I can’t eat and train like I did when I was preparing for my Ironman, it’s not worth it to even try. I keep waiting to “start” and try to decide what “plan” to use when in reality I know how to do this. I did it before, and I can do it again. I just need to throw out this idea of perfection.

    Thanks for all you do and the reminder that it really is the little things you do every day that add up to being the person you know you can be.

    makingmesses

    June 10, 2013

    Bravo! I’ve been struggling BIG time with my body lately. I lost my weight very much like you. I got to my happy place of acceptance, yet remaining active and fit and then that all unraveled once I became a single mom of 3 and worked crazy hours to make ends meet. Now, I’m remarried with my three kids, his 1 kid and just found out (surprise) we are pregnant. I panicked. I let the joy be stolen by the fact that my body would change. I’ve already had a tummy tuck. I had already planned on never being pregnant again. It’s been very emotional.

    What I love about your blog (been a fan since way back when) is how simple and honest you are about your body, your fitness and your food. It helps me get out of the complexities in my head and just remember that I don’t have to be perfect and can start fresh RIGHT NOW.

    Thanks again Roni.

    Deniz

    June 10, 2013

    Hi! Just started reading your blog a couple of weeks ago. Love your honest head-on approach. I am trying to get to over the “perfectness” syndrome – perfect body, perfect house, perfect marriage. Getting there. I love your take on marriage. SO true! I too thought my wonderful husband could deliver everything I needed without me uttering a word because we are such a perfect match. I have since had that wake-up call and realize communication and acceptance goes a long way. Thanks for reminding us life can be perfect without being “perfect”.;)

    Kim

    June 10, 2013

    So with you on several of those things – mostly the marriage – My husband and I just celebrated 17 years and are still very happy! I know it’s because even though he really is about near perfect (which can be a fault in and of itself!!) I have to accept him as he is because I know I have LOTS of imperfections!!!
    Great post!!!

    Kristen

    June 10, 2013

    While I haven’t conquered some of the things on your list that I would like to conquer (particularly body image), I can say that letting go on some of those other things is so freeing.

    I grew up with a mother who had to have an impeccably clean house . As a result, my sister and I were never allowed to cook, for example, because we would mess the place up. We had to look perfect and it took a lot of time and energy. Honestly, I think I am a better mother for letting the unimportant things go. And it gives me the time to focus on things that are more important to me, exercise, for example.

    Luckily, I have the most helpful husband around, but I did learn early that I had to let him do things his way and not say anything unless I was willing to take over that chore completely. So, when they were little, my kids often had totally mismatched outfits on, but since they were clean and dressed, I decided not to worry about it. Now, they are often mismatched because they choose their own outfits.

    Stephanie

    June 10, 2013

    I agree with all of the above and I am working on mastering them! I remember about 5 years ago (first yr married, but 5 yrs into relationship), my husband asked what I wanted to do for Valentines Day. I responded with “I dont know…its not a big deal”. Hoping and wishing he would surprise me, I was greatly disappointed! After that year, he said…pretend I am DUMB and if you want me to make a big deal, PLEASE tell me so. From then on, I have truly been honest when asked what I want for Anniv/Bday/Holiday, etc. I have found that if I really believe I am ok with doing something little on these days and tell him so, they turn out way better than when I expected the world and was disappointed. I have also learned that the house will never be perfect, neither will my diet, relationships, etc. Doesnt mean that I dont beat myself up some days, but its FAR less than it was at an earlier point of my life.

    Maggie

    June 10, 2013

    My husband and I have a saying “Our life is perfect even when it is not”…it is all about perspective. I need to adopt that attitude about my house and my “diet”. I am a believer and working on it.

    Robin Elam Wiergacz

    June 10, 2013

    the dishwasher thing , so sweet youre a good mama

    Iris Lee

    June 10, 2013

    SO true! It seems so simple to say that we will be much happier if we practice acceptance (I actually just wrote a whole post about it on my blog!), but somehow it takes people years to figure out, if we figure it out at all. Thank you for laying it out so clearly! Loved this post. :)

    Iris @ Anatomy & Intuition

    Bitch on a Diet

    June 10, 2013

    I am getting better and better at not expecting perfection from myself or my husband. It really helps a lot. But I also turned down my expectations. I get that we want to set our expectations high, but at some point, you just set yourself up for failure.

    Carrie K,

    June 11, 2013

    My son is 21 and my husband is 57. They both do the dishes and neither of them knows where anything goes. Still.

    Megan

    June 11, 2013

    As a self-proclaimed “recovering perfectionist,” I really found myself identifying with this post. My “all or nothing” thinking was keeping me from being happy–if I didn’t have it all, then it wasn’t worth it to continue trying (reminds me a lot of the nifty flowchart you’ve got there!). …but I had forgotten that the ups and downs are all part of the journey. I definitely agree when it comes to consistency because I know that’s key to reaching my goals. Great post–thanks for sharing your experience with perfection!

    Agnes

    June 11, 2013

    As with most of your posts, this one hit it right on the head for me. I can so relate to the “perfect” diet syndrome. I’m still struggling there and one bad day, one bad hour turns into a month of bad choices! My other big thing is the house…I so struggle there. I have some vision of a Pottery Barn ad in my head and then feel frustrated and mad when the family doesn’t share that with me. I’m working on letting them help clean (and not do it perfectly like me) and also working on not getting bent out of shape when a dish in in the wrong place. Thanks for sharing…I feel better that no one else is perfect either!

    Ashley Lawrence

    June 11, 2013

    Thank you so much for this post. I realized these concepts a few months ago- practiced them for a bit and feel like I am starting to slip back into my perfectionist self. This was a great reminder to get back on the right path again.

    valerie

    June 11, 2013

    I struggle with the all or nothing approach in most aspects of my life. I can’t compartmentalize things and if I focus on something, it is my sole focus. I can’t balance. I focus on my career and my fitness slips. I let my fitness and thus diet slip and gained back almost all of the weight I’d lost. I’m down a few now but still have 35ish to go. It’s frustrating and embarrassing. I’ve revised my goal weight. I think it was too ambitious and daunting. I was out of town for a few days and gained back a pound. But… it was only a pound. I cooked all of the food for the time we were gone but didn’t purchase the food. I created the meal plan but we were feeding 18 teens. It wasn’t perfect but it was wholesome and relatively healthy. We went on an amazing hike in the rain and we did a little hallway yoga. It wasn’t as much as I would have liked but that hike was so amazing. I haven’t exercised since Friday (ugh!) but have a gym visit scheduled for today. Not perfect or even close to but it’s life.

    JenS

    June 11, 2013

    great post! It really resonated with me today!

    Megan

    June 11, 2013

    This. All of this. Love it Roni!

    Martha McKinnon

    June 11, 2013

    You have an incredible way of articulating so much of what I’m thinking and experiencing. I love and admire your raw honesty. When you’ve spent your life mired in the need to be perfect it can be so hard to let go and let be. I used to be the woman who re-folded the clothes and re-loaded the dishwasher when it wasn’t done “right.” I tried to be the perfect woman, daughter, wife, employee, and friend and almost collapsed under the weight of my self-imposed pressure. I was fat, stressed, and miserable. When I look around at my messy house I realize how far I’ve come with embracing my imperfections. And I’m happier and healthier for it. Thanks so much for this post.

    erk

    June 12, 2013

    do you have any daily mantras that help remind you that it doesn’t have to be perfect? I love this post but i’m currently studying for the bar exam and i am aiming to pass which requires a score and i’m trying to stick to a really tight schedule and well there is no room for balance…its about 8-10 hours a day for the next 48 days. I just need to study and do and be the law! So when i’m done with this exam it will be a huge effort to get back to balance. i’m still making time to workout 45 minutes most days so there is that! and as always! thanks for the great post!!!

    jolly

    June 12, 2013

    Its nice to read about your success and I really so much glad to rad your post.

    Cheryl Palen

    June 12, 2013

    success means different things to different people…work success yes. workout stuff…all icing on the cake of life!

    Lori

    June 13, 2013

    Thanks for writing this. I read a lot of blogs, well-known ones included and I wanted to tell you that yours is my favorite because you are so real and so honest. This post really spoke to me and sums up so well some of my struggles. I definitely have gone through the same “it has to be perfect” cycle. I think in the last 2 years (coincidentally or not, since I started Crossfit) where I realize consistency is more important than perfection. But I still struggle – I am still 10-15 lbs from my goal weight and have been for a while so I haven’t figured it all out yet. Anyway, thanks for writing this.

    Anon

    June 13, 2013

    I saved this post in my Reader for a few days, so I could read it more than once. I really suffer from perfection procrastination. I ignore my blog, because I don’t believe I can make it perfect. I’ve been ignoring a new opportunity, because I am scared I won’t fulfill it perfectly. I haven’t been tracking, because I can’t be perfect. I am aware that this is a problem. Sometimes I think I need a motivation buddy, and then I realize that’s ME! I can be my own motivation buddy.

    Tina

    June 14, 2013

    Well said!! I just love you. I enjoy reading your blogs when I get the chance. I can totally relate with all!

    Laura James

    June 15, 2013

    I love this:

    Once I stopped expecting my husband to be perfect, our relationship got
    stronger. Perfect Husbands don’t exist, but partners do, and partners
    ask for help when they need it. Partners communicate and compromise.
    Partners are aware of each other’s imperfections and accept each other
    anyway.

    success, making people love you and to be able to love people start by loving yourself at first. Most people don’t allow themself to be happy and healthy. congrat for allowed yourself to be the great person you can be from inside out ;)