As a chronic dieter and perfectionist, I used to delight in magazine articles and blog posts that gave diet tips in the “Eat This, Not That” form. I would stare at them until the “bad” foods were banished into the forbidden part of my brain and the “good” foods were moved to the top of my mental grocery list.
As I let go of dieting and learn to trust my body with Intuitive Eating, I have to let go of “Eat This, Not That” charts and the ridiculous moral judgments around food they caused me to make. But I can’t deny the efficacy of the chart itself as a memorable way to convey information. I still like the format. It’s so clear and concise. In fact, that format has served as my inspiration today. It’s my way of taking something that used to trip me up and turning it into a tool for my growth.
As a Recovering Perfectionist, I’ve got a lot to UNLEARN and a lot to LEARN too.
One day, through God’s strength and grace, I will fully embrace my imperfection by the world’s standards. Until that day comes, I will remind myself how to embrace imperfection with daily checklists like this.
Instead of the nitpicking of “Eat This, Not That” charts, let’s all zoom out for a “Feel This, Not That” healthier, bigger picture. I pray that you will pause and consider the things that you could be swapping out in life that will actually serve you. Chances are if you’re comparing food labels, you’re probably doing lots of other comparisons too.
For me, comparison was not just for food labels.
In my hustle for worthiness, I would constantly compare myself to other women. I would walk in a room, do a visual sweep and see how I measured up to the other women. I would scrutinize other women who looked like they had it all figured out and try and hack their seeming perfection.
If I could just eat as little as she does, then I’d have a body like that. What’s that new diet she’s on? I better get on that tomorrow.
If I could just get a boyfriend like hers, then I’d be happy. If I can’t get a boyfriend then I must not be pretty enough to be loved.
If I start wearing that brand, then I’d look put together like her. If I at least look the part then maybe I’ll be accepted.
I wish I could tell you those thoughts were only high-school-era thoughts, but they dominated my inner monologue all the way from puberty through law school.
That kind of “If…Then” thinking was such a trap for me because the “if” gave me hope and a goal to work towards, but the “then” made me feel like my life was on hold until it happened.
I felt not good enough. I felt like I had to change to be good enough. I thought being “perfect” was the only way to be good enough.
This left me chasing hard after diets, exercise and anything I thought would help me with weight loss. I rode that roller coaster for twenty years… TWENTY YEARS… before I could see it for what it is. God nudged me and dropped many hints along the ride but I had my eyes fixed on the scale, not on Him.
It took a spiritual awakening for me to finally want to get off the roller coaster. To oversimplify it, I had to reach my “if, then” goal and realize that the weight I was waiting on to finally be happy didn’t actually make me happy and wasn’t ever going to make me happy.
It was this realization that made me finally understand one of the most powerful quotes I’ve ever come across:
“Until God’s love is enough, nothing else will be.” – A Confident Heart by Renee Swope
I knew that was an important concept when I read it, but I couldn’t relate at that time since I was still on the roller coaster. But now that I’m off the roller coaster, boy do I get it! It’s so real, I can can feel the truth of that statement in my body.
There’s inner wisdom in that body. There’s a soul in that body. It’s my vessel to be in this world and enjoy life.
My body is a gift from God, made in His image. It is a temple and deserves my respect. It is a wonderful creation made for a purpose. That purpose is not weight loss.
In this new season, I am learning to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and the obsessions and control issues born out of it. I am learning to let go of the lie that I have to eat perfectly and follow a workout regime perfectly to feel good about myself. I am learning to let go of the lie that I need a to look perfect to be happy.
I don’t need to follow a meal plan exactly to the teaspoon, I can listen to my body’s cues around food.
I don’t have to have pro makeup on to take a selfie or to go out on the town, I can be comfortable in my own skin.
I don’t have to do exactly 30 minutes of heart exploding cardio for it to “count” as a workout, I can move in a way that makes me feel good.
It’s time to understand things don’t have to be perfect to be good.
It’s time to accept the good that is already here with gratitude and joy.
Dear God, thank you for loving me as I am today. Bless me with the courage to be imperfect in a world that demands perfection. Help me to stop striving for perfection by the world’s standards and instead fix my eyes on You, the only true perfection. Help me to accept myself and love myself, as You love me, just as I am. Help me to care about what You think and not what others think of me. Grant me Your eyes to see the good and the beauty in what you have fearfully and wonderfully made. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.