Unhealthy Perfectionism vs. the Pursuit of Excellence

Over the past five years I’ve witnessed many individuals repeatedly struggle with the nutritarian diet-style because of the greatly misunderstood topic of unhealthy perfectionism vs. the pursuit of excellence.  

Unhealthy perfectionism entails the all or nothing, obsessive mindset of striving for flawlessness that messes in a negative way with the psyche. In the context of changing eating habits, this type of perfectionism can be felt as a burden that leads to dissatisfaction and depression if perfect flawlessness can’t be obtained.

“If I can’t eat perfectly, I won’t do it at all.” 

Or . . .  “I blew it. I ate a cookie so now I’ll go ahead and pig out on everything.” 

Or  . . . “I didn’t lose any weight this week so I’m quitting - it's all or nothing for me.”  

That kind of stinkin’ thinking has to go, because it is detrimental to success. 

 

However, like an Olympic Champion who gives 100% to win the Gold Medal, getting out of food addiction takes 100% commitment. One can’t give half-heartedly and expect to see great results. It takes complete abstinence and no compromises to get free from the entanglements of addiction.

A nicotine addict can’t smoke “just one” cigarette a day and expect to get free from, or stay out of the addiction. Nor can a recovering alcoholic drink “just one” glass of wine every day. It takes abstaining 100% from the addictive substance to get free, and then to remain free. 

Additionally, it’s much easier to eat perfectly – strict adherence to the plan - and get completely rid of nagging cravings than it is to vacillate and keep them continually percolating beneath the surface; waiting to ignite at a moment’s notice. The latter is spelled M-I-S-E-R-Y, because you’re always fighting the demons of temptation. Whereas, once the overwhelming cravings are gone, the inner turmoil is silenced.    

The one who strives for excellence may make mistakes in the learning process, also known as slip ups*, but those errors propel the incentive to work harder. Slip ups may impulsively happen from time to time, but they are minor and short-lived as the quest for excellence is wholeheartedly pursued with great joy and excitement!

[* A slip up is not an intentionally planned cheat: a whole vacation, an entire week, a full day, or even an entire meal. It is a small indiscretion, like maybe some bread that was not health-supporting as a part of one meal, and it didn’t create a total binge of unhealthy eating. The imperfection didn’t destroy or even interrupt 100% commitment to nutritional excellence.]

It’s absolutely necessary to carefully link days of perfect eating together for cravings to subside and then go completely away; and then it is equally important to never return to old habits in order to achieve long term success. One bite of an addictive substance can open the addiction right back up to full force. 

Unfortunately, I’ve observed many who don’t want to be labeled a perfectionist (for fear of being the unhealthy kind) so they intentionally veer off the path of perfect eating just to avoid it! 

That kind of stinkin’ thinking has to go as well, because those who intentionally veer off the path of perfect eating will end up in head on collisions with the Standard American Diet and never get free from unhealthy dietary entanglements. Ever. And sadly, they’ll never achieve optimal health or a quality of life either.   

Ask former nicotine addicts if they smoke a couple cigarettes a day to avoid being labeled a perfectionist. Ask recovery alcoholics if they still hang out at the bars after work to avoid the label as well.

To get free, and to remain free, one has to eat almost perfectly – for life.  

   

PS   As I was taking the above photo of the scales, I couldn't help but be reminded that 2-3 years ago, junk food and candy were still somewhat tempting to me at times; but now that stuff is disgusting.  I didn't think that would ever happen, but it did.  I used to think that Dr. Fuhrman was some kind of saint from outer space (not really) to say that candy and junk food were disgusting to him . . . but it really does happen over time! 

        

Have You Caught the "Extreme-itis" Bug?

 

If we buy into the culturally acceptable mindset that eating for health is extreme, we will always have twinges or avalanches of deprivation and self-pity; which will set us up for repetitive cheating, or worse yet, for others to think we are depriving ourselves and have pity on us as well.

 

We can read and study Eat to Live, and those around us can read and study it also, and we can even attend health immersions and know the information inside and out; however, if deep down inside we feel abnormal or embarrassed by eating high-nutrient, plant based foods, or are made to feel like we are extreme, then we’ve caught the "extreme-titis" bug.  If we've caught it, we'll never experience the truest sense of pleasure from eating for health. (Unfortunately, the virus is quite contagious right now!) 

 

When we grasp the amazing reality that eating a high-nutrient, plant based diet is normal; that eating an apple instead of a piece of cake is normal; that eating some steamed veggies instead of a pan of pizza, or eating a salad instead of bag of chips is normal; that not having diabetes, heart disease, strokes, cancer, and dementia is normal; not having astronomical medical and pharmaceutical bills is normal; that enjoying pleasurable sex in the middle age years and beyond is normal; and that feeling well, attractive, and enjoying life is normal.

And the day that we thoroughly understand that putting a high fat Value Meal or chocolate cream pie into our blood stream is extreme; to be riddled with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia is extreme; for a teen to wear diapers and be spoon fed pureed food due to a stroke is extreme; to spend $120 on a vial of insulin is extreme; to continually feel sick, tired and depressed is extreme; to be so overweight and lethargic that one can't enjoy making love to his/her spouse is extreme; to sweat profusely and hide from swimming pools on hot summer days is extreme.  

Then, and only then, we will experience the true pleasure of eating for health!

As the mind is changed, the body will be transformed as a result.

Are we living in the perspective of being normal or extreme?

Perhaps it’s time for an “extreme adjustment”. 

 

Perhaps it’s time to honestly ask ourselves the following questions:

 

  • Am I embarrassed to drink a blended salad around my co-workers who are eating donuts?

  • Do I hide my container of vegetables when I’m out in public with friends? 

  • Do I eat a slice of pizza with peers just to fit in?

     

 

Perhaps its time to feel normal . . . .because eating the way our bodies are designed to function in optimal health IS normal! 

Then we’ll not feel deprived and self-pitied, and we’ll no longer experience the suppressed longing to be a part of the standard America diet culture. 

Perhaps it’s time for many of us to come out of hiding and establish new, normal traditions not only for the holidays, but for the office, places of worship, birthday and Super Bowl parties, cook-outs, bonfires, and all social gatherings. 

Perhaps instead of secretly brown bagging our food in public, we can lead the way of normalcy, and unashamedly live in great health; happy to be a part of the awesome nutritarian food revolution that is eradicating food addictions and resulting diseases from our bodies!

Those that want to get rid of costly diseases, astronomically expensive meds, and unnecessary suffering and heartbreak is exploding exponentially daily. Extreme is going down!

Normal is here to stay!


Let’s all enjoy being NORMAL today; full of health, vitality, and life!

 

image credit:  flickr by Muffet

Sensible boundaries keep us safe

 

For many of us who are former, chronic dieters, restrictive eating may have been a very negative experience. We may have had the euphoric high of shedding a few pounds with artificially sweetened desserts and beverages, processed meal replacements, protein powder drinks, or meticulous counting, measuring and recording rituals; but then ate everything in sight afterwards to make up for the inhumane deprivation of vital nutrients that our bodies so desperately needed for survival. 

We may have lost 10 lbs, but then binged and gained 40.   

However, when we liberally and generously flood our bodies with micronutrients, phytochemicals and rich antioxidants, it turns off the biological necessity for craving addictive, unhealthy foods and overeating. For many, it takes at least 3-6 weeks of total abstinence; replacing standard America diet foods with high-nutrient foods for the taste buds to change and to cross over to that threshold of freedom.   

Eat to Live definitely scores as the only proven program out there that eradicates addictive biological cravings, which removes the strong power-struggle with food.

However, one can’t deny the fact that it is not an all-you-can-eat, no restraints way of eating either.  There are guidelines to follow like eating only when truly hungry and stopping before full.

For those of us who have developed unhealthy habits over the years such as: using food to stuff negative emotions, or to celebrate happy occasions, or to eat according to the clock, or as a recreational hobby, or to socialize with others, there’s an intentional and ongoing diligence that has to be maintained for life

Like all addictions, one can never return to destructive habits, no matter how much the cravings for unhealthy foods have ceased. 

For me personally, I can never eat at the computer while skimming Facebook or the news. For me, food turns into a recreational hobby when I do that and I no longer focus on stopping before full. 

Just like many recovering alcoholics can no longer hang out at bars lest they revert back to unhealthy patterns, I can’t mix food with leisure activities that trigger mindless overeating.  Eating is only to nourish my body. Nothing more. It’s no longer a recreational hobby. 

So for that reason, optimal health requires sensible boundaries to safeguard oneself from past engrained habits, depending upon one’s former lifestyle.   

                                 

Eat to live.  We nourish our bodies with high-nutrient foods; eating only when truly hungry and stopping before full. 

 

Simple. Sensible. Effective. Permanent. 

 

 

 

image credit:  vegetables, flickr by Martin Cathrae   

Compromises are the seeds of addiction

cookies

One doesn’t just wake up one day suddenly caught in the entanglement of an unhealthy addiction. Unhealthy addictions are formed by repetitions of small, seemingly insignificant compromises of what we know to be good for us.  The danger of little compromises is they easily turn into bigger ones.

Typically, rationalizations spark the fire of compromise:

 

  • “It’s late. I’m tired ~ just a piece of toast with almond butter before bed won’t hurt me.”
  • “It’s the Super Bowl. Everyone is eating. Even though I’m not hungry, I’ll snack just this one time with everyone else. I’m not addicted to salt anymore so I can start over tomorrow; no problem.”
  • “Woah, I made way too much smoothie, and I only like to drink them when fresh. Oh well, just this one time won’t hurt to drink all of it. I hate to waste anything.”
  • “I know that I should only eat when truly hungry, but those homemade cookies left on the countertop were calling my name. I couldn’t help myself.”

 

It takes commitment to intentional choices, a solid plan, to keep one off the radar screen of addiction. 

 

Commitment is an action of the mind; a promise that’s based on knowledge. Commitment is hard at times. It’s never the easy way in the heat of a tempting moment.

 

Compromise is an action of the emotions; based on feelings, excuses and rationalizations. Compromise is easy. Any little thing is an excuse to give into impulses of the moment.

 

Perhaps it’s time to honestly evaluate our commitment or lack thereof. Are we committed to eating for optimal health, or are we eating according to feelings?

One produces freedom from addiction. The other produces captivity to it. 

In the heat of the moment, follow the plan.

Freedom to all! 

 

 

image credit: flicr by Kimberlykj

Countdown to the Holiday Challenge!

Next Saturday, November 20th, will be the official kick-off for “The six week holiday challenge.”  This week I’ve asked author and motivational speaker, Sarah Taylor, to share a few words with us.  Sarah was the delightful emcee and motivational speaker who warmed the hearts of all at this year’s Health Getaway in San Diego. You will be encouraged by what she has to share.  Welcome to Disease Proof, Sarah.  

 

portrait of Sarah Taylor

Thanks Emily! I love the idea of focusing on the holidays as an opportunity to actually get healthier, rather than an excuse for a six week binge. I don’t think most people get “down-in-the-dumps” in the winter from the weather - I think much of it is a result of eating toxic food in huge quantities, and feeling low self-esteem because of all the bad choices; not to mention an expanding waistline! So, let’s all take Emily’s challenge and use this time to actually get healthier

I also love Dr. Fuhrman’s six-week plan in Eat to Live because there’s a huge amount of power in the 30-60 day window. Studies show that it takes 30-60 days to develop or break a habit; and interestingly, it also takes about the same amount of time to get rid of toxic food cravings. So, the six week holiday challenge is perfect to make permanent changes in one’s habits, which will ultimately revolutionize one’s health. 

Imagine this: instead of waking up on January 1st feeling fat, sick, and depressed; we all wake up feeling proud, energetic, happy, and alive! 

Here are a few ideas to choose from to help establish healthier habits by January 1st:

  •  Commit (or re-commit) to following Dr. Fuhrman’s six week plan
  •  Commit to only eating when truly hungry
  •  Commit to eliminating salt
  •  Commit to drinking a green smoothie every day
  •  Commit to eating at least a pound of greens every day before filling up on other foods
  •  Commit to eliminating all processed sugar
  •  Commit to trying a new nutritarian-friendly recipe every week (even if it’s just a dip or a dressing)

                         

Make 2010 the year that you go through the holidays with energy, vitality, and aliveness! Imagine starting 2011 looking and feeling better than you did before the holidays; and knowing that you have new, well-established, healthy habits that will serve you for a lifetime! 

 

 

fireworks image credit Flickr: Normaron Fishion