Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When is it good enough? The Imperfect Syndrome.

Yesterday was Tuesday, and I was convinced that today should be Friday. It's been one of those weeks. Not that it has been a bad week, I have had some great things happen in fact, but I'm just feeling out of sorts.

Today I got to spend a lot of time with the fabulous Ashley, both at lunch and at spin. As we devoured monstrous salads we discussed the usual's...running, working out, eating healthy, and on and on. In our discussion we started talking about feeling like we are "good enough."

Ash is incredible and has used WW to reach her goal weight. She is also an awesome runner, and just accomplished a 20 miler in training for her upcoming marathon. I look at this girl and think. DANG. Look at all she has accomplished.

Others might say the same of some of my accomplishments. I have run races, stuck to goals, made improvements, etc. Yet, I have never reached a point where I thought, there it is I made it to "good enough." I think there are positives and negatives to this, "imperfect syndrome." On the plus side it helps push us to do things we didn't realize were possible. It can help us to improve our health. It can make us better athletes. It can test our endurance and our strength. We need some of that drive in us to always want to be better. To keep improving ourselves. To a point...

We then get to a point where we can't see our accomplishments. This this is the negative side. We don't allow ourselves to enjoy the progress we have made, at least not for long. We are never skinny enough, strong enough, fast enough, pretty enough...etc. etc. etc. This is where we can push ourselves into the unhappy part of life where all we are ever doing is thinking...I'll be happy when...but in reality we keep increasing and changing our "when," so what we are really saying is, "I will never be happy." What kind of a life is that?

I think it is so sad that we do this to ourselves. We may disguise this type of self destruction as "pushing ourselves to be better," when in reality we are just pushing ourselves to an unreachable limit. So how do we stop this vicious cycle? How do we reach a point where we are happy with what we have accomplished and let our goals be positive instead of negative.

I've been thinking about this all day, and I'm hoping the following suggestions may help...
- Set realistic, reachable goals with a purpose. If your goal is to lose 15 pounds because you know that will be a healthier weight for you that is a positive goal. If you are doing it because you feel like you have to due to societal pressure that isn't so healthy.
- Look at the accomplishments you have made. Take a second to appreciate all you CAN do and HAVE done. I bet the list will be long.
- Don't obsesses over numbers. If you are really eating healthy and exercising you body will take on a healthy frame. Don't let a number on the scale dictate your level of happiness.
- Don't compare yourself to what you see in the magazine. It's not real, and usually it's not realistic. You are probably a lot prettier than that anyways.
- Set goals and push yourself. Get to know your limits. Set goals that will help you to improve.
- When you reach your goals be proud of yourself. Why set goals if you don't even allow yourself a victory dance when you get there?

Remember that you are capable of anything, but that you don't want to live your life constantly thinking that you aren't good enough. Sometimes it's more important to accept who you are and be proud of that. Celebrate your positives. Find things about yourself that you love and when you are starting to get down remind yourself of those things. Surround yourself with people that you love, and that love you back. They will always make you feel like a million bucks, even if you aren't feeling it that day. You are incredible, and don't you forget it.

Do you ever get a case of the, "imperfect syndrome?" I think we all do. It's hard not to sometimes. What do you do to combat it?

25 comments:

Julia said...

what a great post. I feel like I "bounce" back and forth all the time. At one point I am doing things because I love it and then the next point I am doing them for who knows what other negative reasons. blah.

To get out of this I usually realize that the pressure is coming from my mind being so far off into the future. So I then take some time to appreciate where I am at now and all it took to get to this point: me in the present! I usually feel better and much more appreciative of where I am at currently :)

Rochelle said...

You always have the greatest posts ever. I have this problem all the time. I freaking lost 55 lbs and still am fatter than most runners out there. It's so hard to compare myself to others...but it definitely helps to take a run and just reflect on how far I have come and just appreciate it. It helps to not get caught up in the distance, the speed, the number on the scale...and just remember how great it is to be where you are at now.

Kiley said...

Awesome post! It is so easy to get wrapped up in the "imperfect syndrome". I had a really hard time with it when I started college. But by the time I graduated...I dont know how, but I feel like I've really conquered it. Yeah I compare myself to others, think I'm not fast enough, wish I could do more with my life...but really...in can snap back in a few minutes & realize - I'm doing great!

I think it's just a matter of knowing what it's all about. Little things don't matter as much & there is so much more out there than a number on the scale or make-up on my face. Honestly I think I have gotten to this point because my sister & my dad have passed away, so it's hard to care about things that really just don't matter, especially if they are just going to bring me down.

Again, this was a great post...thanks for it!

kay.tee. said...

I've been thinking about this exact topic all week and was trying to figure out how to blurt it out into a post. I read an article on another blog yesterday entitled "Body Image:When You've Met Your Goal But Still Feel Fat."

Although I am not quite to my goal, I am down over one hundred pounds, have made some incredible accomplishments in the last year, and am living a healthy lifestyle. For me it's about recognizing that I am capable of making healthy choices- that will eventually lead to my reaching my goals. Every workout, every healthy food choice is a step in the right direction, and is good for my health. I think that the biggest accomplishment to me today is that I HAVE EARNED my body, and earned where I am today.

Lindsay and James Cotter said...

I think God created us with imperfections, so thats when we need to look at the bigger picture. If we have our health and good fitness, then those little imperfections are what makes us unique! amen, right?!
;)

Erin@gosupermamago said...

This is a really great post. I agree that everyone struggles with this at some point in their life. The biggest culprit is comparing yourself to others. I think we have to learn to set goals for OURSELVES, based on ourselves. Its difficult to do, but to be happy you need to learn to be happy with yourself. I struggle with this, and especially being a stay at home mom, its difficult feeling like others are out their conquering the world while I stay at home. Thats when I need to step back and think of how important the job I'm doing is. A snuggle from my little girls usually makes me feel better. :)

runningonwords said...

I constantly struggle with "not being good enough." I don't know what to do about it, especially, since, quite frankly, when it comes to my job, I'm not good enough. I think the problem is I'm afraid of failure so I don't try, which means I can't fail. I wish I had some suggestions for breaking out of this mindset, but obviously I've never had much success at it.

ashley & sundance said...

Umm... I may have cried a lil when I read this post!

I have "imperfect syndrome", but I think we all do. Like Julia said, I usually bounce back and forth. Running for the sake of having a good run, or running to lose 3 pounds... But I like how you said to look at what you HAVE accomplished. I was looking at some of my "fat" pictures... oh man.

had a blast hanging out with you yesterday! and my Mom thinks you are adorable. :)

Stephanie said...

It has taken me awhile to get used to my imperfect body after baby but more and more lately I'm embracing my body for what its accomplished rather than to look at it and judge it for what it will never be again.

Shannon said...

I suffer from imperfect syndrome every day. I'm never skinny enough, never work out enough, never run far enough, never work hard enough at school, I'm never a good enough waitress, housekeeper, cook... etc. etc. And I'm kind of with runningonwords on this one, because I don't know how to break out of the mindset, and I often fear that I'll just be miserable all my life because I don't know how to see the good in myself, and even when I try to it's always combated with "Well, but look how poorly you o this" or "Look how much better you could have done" and "You used to be so much skinner, but you ate too much and now you're fat again".

AND with rejections letters coming at me it makes it even WORSE because then I get to think "YES! I'm not good enough for grad school!"

Merediths said...

Wow. So true. So common. You should write a book.
I've been at every stage of the imperfect syndrome. Now I am 4 1/2 months pregnant and feel even less control over those healthy things that I have strived for. It's a rough road. Having good support and friends like you make the road a little easier to travel.
Thanks Megan!

Rachelle Wardle said...

Thanks for this post Megan. I have been really struggling lately with wanting to reacha perfect "racing weight". The funny thing is I am happy with the way I look and my body but I keep thinking if I am thinner I will run faster, or be even more happy.

I know that this does not work because I have tried this before and ended up with an eating disorder. I think it is a difficult balance to find especially for an "all or nothing" person like myself. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Unprofessional said...

BEST POST! I'm always comparing myself to others, thinking that if I can be lighter I can be faster, and over the fast couple weeks have been judging my entire self-worth on how fast I ran that stupid marathon...HOW AWFUL! If I heard any other human being so hard on someone, I WOULD BE SO ANGRY!!! it's so easy to be hard on yourself and compare and to never feel good enough. Really, we all need to take the time to build ourselves up as much as we build each other up. THANKS FOR THE GREAT POST!

Benita said...

love this post. sometimes i really do think i want to lose that extra five-ten lbs just because i feel like its what i'm "supposed" to be... but in reality, if i take a step back and think about the progress i've made and how YOU have impacted me to change, i have to be proud of that. so thanks for being my bff and making me better :)

The Hungry Runner Girl said...

I will never miss out on a pf date again, even if it means I have to quit my job. I LOVED THIS POST and you know I am JUST like you....'imperfect syndrome' gets us every time. It really is amazing to look at everyone around you and think they are PERFECT and so amazing and yet we are so hard on ourselves. Let's please work on this together k!?!?!

Coy Martinez said...

I love this post and I think that we as runners would be a great group as a whole for a set of psychiatrists. Before I was a runner I never beat myself up or doubted myself or ablilities. Now that I'm racing I always wonder if I'm fast enough or good enough or strong enough. All the things you said. I've made a pact with myself that I'll knock it off and enjoy the accomplishment and not the details.

Sarah said...

First of all, I love your blog! I'm a new and avid follower! Secondly, do you know how amazing your timing is on this post?! I struggle with the "imperfect syndrome" and sometimes I'm able to just let the moment pass and move on. What becomes really hard is when that mindset begins to sink in, and it takes so much more to get out of it. It makes me so sad that accomplished women such as yourself feel this way, but it is also reassuring that it's something that we all struggle with and that we can rely on each other for help to pick us up when we need it.

Sorry for the rambling... gahhh, what a great post! Thanks! :)

marathonmaiden said...

i ALWAYS have the imperfect syndrome. i was just talking about this today with a friend. luckily i have friends who are able to tell me to live in the moment and help me do that. friends = love.

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