I haven’t been writing here lately, because I don’t feel “good enough”. Not in the sense that I’m unwell, or unhealthy, just imperfect. And imperfection seems like exactly the opposite of what people want to read about. I want people to see someone who has it all figured out, is working on their process and making huge strides in the right direction. Apparently, that’s not me.
There has been some turmoil in various areas of my life, personal and professional, this past year and every time I sat down to write about what I was going through, it felt too raw, too exposed, too broken. Mostly that I didn’t have it together enough to be good enough to share with people what is going on.
Perfection has always been something of a demon in my life. I was taught early and often that I needed to be “a lady” at all times and that excellence was the only thing that mattered. When I stumbled and fell down on my face, it was because I wasn’t good enough or I wasn’t trying hard enough. Or worse, that there was just something wrong with me on a base level that was impossible to overcome.
I’ve been working very hard with my nutritionist on my need for perfection around food. It’s okay to be imperfect and have a set back or even a complete break down around food and order something from a drive thru.
We have been focusing hard on the 80/20 principle, as described in the Slow Down Diet book, where 80% of what you eat is whole, good and real and then there is some wiggle room with that other 20%. A few weeks ago I told her I was afraid I would be 75/25 or 70/30 and ruin it FOREVER! She asked me, as she was looking at her notes, where I thought I was even close to going over the 80%.
With tears in my eyes, I said that sometimes I like to have some brown rice, or other whole grain with my dinner. And I miss eating breakfast with an english muffin. And crackers. I sure to miss crackers. She just smiled and asked me why I thought those weren’t part of the 80%. I said, “Because, CARBS!!!”
She smiled and once again drew me the familiar picture of the ideal plate. 1/2 fruit and veggies, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 carbohydrates. Then she underlined the carbohydrates. We had a talk about how carbohydrates are brain food and give us energy and that as long as I’m choosing quality, healthy, whole carbs, they are fully within the eating plan. I nodded at her, but inside I was still saying “… but carbs.”
But I went to the grocery store and looked for products that were free of preservatives and chemicals. I bought some delicious whole wheat english muffins and read the ingredients on what seemed like a million boxes of crackers. Who knew that triscuits were going to be one of the better options out there. I took them home and worked them into my meal plan for a week. I lost 3 lbs that week. I know! Complete madness!
During that week, I allowed more room for that 20%. I wanted some ice cream after a difficult work project. I went out and found the very best ice cream I could find and savored every single bite. I paid attention to how it tasted and how it made me feel, both physically and emotionally. And for what seemed like the first time in my life, I realized that I had eaten enough before I was trying to lick the bottom of the pint container. 🙂
Now I’m trying to work that 80/20 rule into other areas of my life. I admit that I can’t be perfect. The best I can hope for is to do just a little bit better today than I did yesterday. And when I can’t, that’s okay too. I’m trying to find a way to embrace imperfection in all it’s messy glory.
All of us human beings are a constant work in progress. There is always a lesson in everything we undertake and every experience teaches us a few things we didn’t know before and can use to be better the next time around.
So, from my mess to yours, allow yourself a little freedom of imperfection. Embrace the mess! It’s YOUR mess. And maybe tomorrow it will be slightly less messy. Baby steps. Baby steps.