When the Perfect is the Enemy of the Good.

Carrie  has declared, in two well-stated posts (one today – go see), her attitude toward diet and exercise.  I think it could best be summed up as “live your life, eat stuff you enjoy, move around a little, and quit stressing about getting it all perfect.”  (Carrie, feel free to correct me if I screwed that up – that was my interpretation.)

Here’s the thing.  I couldn’t agree more. 

I don’t know if this is a surprise or not.  It shouldn’t be, because I’ve posted about my strong belief in balance in all things, including balancing the daily consumption of chocolate with a salad or two!   On the other hand, I know some folks have chalked me into the “benignly crazed” column because of my running and encouragement of others to log exercise miles or minutes. 

Carrie posted about this, originally, because spring has brought with it the not unusual phenomenon of folks in blogland starting to stress about summer coming and having to uncloak thighs and biceps that have been hiding under a comfortable swath of sweaters, jeans, and heavy coats.    Her point (leaving aside the fact that she gets to wear shorts all year round) is that the last thing she needs is more pressure to do or be yet more.   

Truly, I think that’s the last thing any woman needs.   I’d like to turn the thought over, though.   Women are so good at putting themselves and their needs dead last.   We’re also experts at striving for impossible ideals of perfection.

What if, instead, we think about what we do need?  And what if we give ourselves permission to simply do our best?  “Good” has a dictionary definition, and it’s the opposite of “bad” for a reason.  “Good” is not, I must point out, the opposite of “perfect.” 

I would go so far as to say that perfection is not only overrated, it sucks.  It’s not attainable.  And its toned, smooth, skinny, lustrous,  imperious spectre keeps us from just doing our best, and loving ourselves.

So I say, screw perfect!  How can life be interesting if it has no lumps, bumps, and flaws?  And why should we, any of us, let that bitch perfection stop us from doing things that make us happy and let us feel great?

It’s OK to go for a walk instead of running 5 miles.  It’s OK to eat dessert!   But it’s also OK to love yourself enough to get some good nutrition every day, and to get out and breathe some fresh air and feel your muscles.

Remember back to my “Three Things” deal?   The idea is to try to do three healthy things each day.  Just for you.  Those things need not include running 5 miles or limiting your intake to less food than it takes to keep a bird alive.  Seriously.  It’s not about being perfect.  It’s about thinking highly enough of yourself that you make conscious choices to honor your well-being. 

Here endeth my manifesto (mostly because I have to get to work).  But please, let’s hear your thoughts about this.  And go comment at Carrie’s, too.

Most of all, have a great day – and go give perfection a good kick in her bony ass.



Filed under Everyone is Entitled to My Opinion

15 responses to “When the Perfect is the Enemy of the Good.

  1. I ate a healthy breakfast today. There’s one thing. I’m thinking I might change it to 3 things/week, though and make that 3 times of walking/week.

  2. And what a good manifesto that was! I told Carrie I gave up guilt for Lent. Which she said surely made the Pope’s head explode. 😀

    I do want to exercise more – it’s like my brain is able to run through all it’s stuff and then just quiets down. I loved when I was getting a couple of hours a day when I lived in CA… but the gym was small, almost always empty and most importantly close. Here, it’s a good half hour to the closest gym (until the new one is finished), it’s always full of awesome looking people who look snooty and I just don’t have the gumption to go. I keep telling Texas he needs to buy me a weight machine and a treadmill for the house.

    That being said I eat what I want. If I need the comfort of mac and cheese or a cheese cake, I eat it. I’m also one of those weirdos who will have a craving for … say brownies, make a pan have one and then I’m done. I can have a container of ice cream in the freezer for months. (there are some klondikes in there now that are from early January) I find myself eating fresh during the spring, summer and fall. I love fresh fruit and veggies. There is nothing like it.

    The point? Ummmm… I don’t know. I was just sharing. 😀 Happy Tuesday Nora! xoxo

  3. Joy

    Thanks – very well put!

  4. Beth

    screw perfect is right! I spent the first 30 plus years of my life refusing to wear shorts in public because of my bird legs. And I am telling you–they ARE bird legs. Then I had a bad burn in a cooking accident and ended up with a scar over most of one thigh. So bird legs AND a scar.

    Now, as I am in my mid-50’s, I wear shorts if it’s hot. If I want a milkshake, I have it. I may not be as cute as I was 30 years ago (but didn’t realize), but I’m sure alot happier.

  5. That was always the point I got from you. Some of us just aren’t built to be runners. Some aren’t built to be sprinters. Whatever. Just take care of yourself. Of course, that is much easier said than done when you have a family or are a caregiver. It’s a balancing act every day.

  6. I know you talk about balance. I just like to give you crap, because, well, I can. 😀
    Anyway, I was a Disney fan for a long time (hooray for internalizing that the heroine must always have great hair, perky boobs and a tiny waist!) and it took me years to understand what is now my favorite quote (from Mary Poppins – heck, even she was “practically” perfect in every way): “Enough is as good as a feast.”

  7. I love that Beth.

    Perfect is annoying. She is too perky, too cheerful and far too upbeat for anyone to actually like her. We should pity Perfect because she really is missing out on all the fun and cheesecake.

    I’m just sayin’…

  8. I have trying to be healthier long before your recent post about it. I also happen to be one of the crazy ones who loves to run as you know. Lately I have been adding lots of other things to my workouts like yoga and biking. It keeps me from getting bored and I have been feeling better and sleeping better. I had no intention of giving up the chocolate or the peanut m&m’s either. 🙂

  9. Beth

    Cookie–what kind of fool passes on cheesecake? I can’t imagine passing on cheesecake.

    Actually, this Perfect business has been on my mind lately. I have a friend who I’ve known casually for many years. She was VERY beautiful and glamorous and always looked impeccable–hair, nails, makeup. What I like to think of as the full sheep-dip treatment. And her friends were equally perfect looking. And they all intimidated the crap out of me.

    BUT…having gotten to know them, I wouldn’t trade places with them for anything. It’s not just that I’m lazy and would rather sleep in a little longer than dry my hair (although both are true). But it just hasn’t made any of them any happier or given them any better marriages (in fact, it’s been the opposite). And they’ve sure missed out on a lot of good stuff….

  10. Yep. Freedom from the pursuit of perfection is wonderful.

    Also, if we put taking care of ourselves at the bottom of the list, what kind of results can we reasonably expect? Oh, no! Those words are echoing in my head. I guess I know one area I might need to re-evaluate.

  11. Frances

    Very well said!

  12. Thanks for an excellent post. I agree with you about it all, especially having an attitude in which doing healthy things for myself isn’t a sacrifice or a chore or whatever I may imagine it to be, but rather, a way of respecting myself and my life.

    Sometimes cheesecake is the healthy thing I need. Sometimes it’s 30 miles on my bike.

  13. Well, crap. And here I was *this close* to perfection!!! 😀


  14. Beth, only a freak who thinks they are perfect would do such a silly thing.

  15. So, it is okay that I’m eating pizza for late dinner tonight….balanced by a nice salad….as I comment? 😀

    Nice post, Nora.

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