The Problem With Perfection*.

I’ve always been the type of girl that things came easily to.

It was first evident in school, when I finished lessons far more quickly than the other students and decided that I’d rather go look out the window or read a book than patiently wait for the others to finish. This lasted all the way through high school, where I somehow managed to coast through with a minimal amount of effort. Sure, I had my difficult subjects (math, boo! Hiss!), but for the most part tests were taken without studying, and papers were written without hours of agonizing exactly what my point was going to be.

(Looking back- HAHAHAHA. Although the paper about Shakespeare’s cross-dressing heroines remains [“Bitches in Britches”] among my favorite pieces.)

Somehow, the same luck followed me through my extracurricular activities, and into my professional life. Granted, since college I’ve put a LOT more effort into everything I attempt, but generally the results are good.

It’s difficult for me to struggle with something.

There have been two other times in my life where I’ve looked in the mirror and gone “Whoa!” The first was just after college graduation, when a diet consisting mostly of late-night snacks and cafeteria food finally caught up with me. Fortunately, moving back home and revamping my diet quickly took care of the excess pounds. It was then that I realized that my previously awesome metabolism, which kept me in the low 100s all the way through college, had shot me the finger and left the building.

The second time was after my breakup with Jazz Guy. I was 25, and going from “practically engaged” to “wicked single” was a tough transition. My “living single” strategy was to “live well”- meaning if I wanted that fabulous pair of shoes? I got them. If I wanted those concert tickets? Yup. I was going. I was lucky to have some incredible female friends who were always available to spend time together, and right around then discovered the marvelous sport of Ice Hockey. Those semi-pro players filled my need for beefcake, and the hockey rink snacks packed on a good 20 pounds.

On a shopping trip with my best hockey bud, I realized that the single-digit sizes were no longer fitting. I was already doing yoga, but added some cardio and again went back to watching what I ate, and had pretty awesome results by the time I met Army Boy for our first date.

Apparently I’ve been “living too well” again, the snacks in my desk drawers and movie nights with bowls of ice cream finally having caught up with me. I wish I could say that it hadn’t taken a photograph to jump-start my ass, that I had the initiative myself to make the necessary changes to stay fit and healthy.

Nope. I like food too much. And I like relaxing after eating that food.

The diet thing? Is difficult. There’s disappointment at myself that I’m in this place again, 6 months before our wedding. It seems a contradiction that someone who’s so type-A in most of the areas in her life could neglect herself, but here I am. Because I’m type-A, once I commit to something (re: diet.), I can’t do it half-heartedly or relax about it. Every slip up is a reason to feel guilty, like I’m letting myself down and not committed to undoing the damage that I feel I’ve done to my body. Oh, and I’m also a recovering Catholic. We’re the MASTERS of guilt and self-loathing.

The first shopping trip after I’d started was dismal. It took almost two hours, because I had to obsessively check the nutritional content of everything I was attempting to buy for our weekly meals. In the cart were fake sugar, low fat mayo, fake butter and fake orange juice. Take away my sugar and my orange juice?! I can’t go on! I need a fainting couch!

Initially, it was awful to realize how mindless I was about what I was eating. It was frightening just how awesome food was the first week, when I cut out those unnecessary grazing sessions during the day and stuck to a structured schedule. I was depressed, because in my world “shouldn’t eat” becomes a big fat “CANNOT EAT,” and I was looking at a loooong life ahead without Cadbury Crème eggs. There are not grey areas, only the grim spectre of Ugly Wedding Pictures (strike) that number on the scale. I am genuinely trying to learn to not live in extremes, but it’s not easy.

This is truly the first thing that hasn’t come easily to me, and it’s been day-to-day. Each week, I feel like there’s a new challenge: planning out our meals the week before, changing up my coffee order, grabbing pizza with Army Boy’s brother, deciding if I really want to have a snack during our BBC watching sessions (Currently: Robin Hood, season 1. BBC WINS, you guys.)

It’s around this time that the Catholic guilt rears its head. Don’t I feel silly for whining about a diet when there are earthquakes in Japan and Qaddafi in Libya?! Then I read a fabulous post over on Parsing Nonsense, and didn’t feel quite so bad about whining about something as trivial as my current lack of cupcakes. I know how lucky I truly am- I have a wonderful fiancé, a supportive Mom who’s ready on the other end of the phone when I need to vent, and a beagle puppy that’s always game to be my workout buddy.

Does that make it easier each time I reeeeeally want something downright naughty?? Hell no. Does the fact that I can say no make me feel just a little bit better? Yes.

Nobody said that making a lifestyle change** was supposed to be easy, anyway.

*- In no way does this imply that I feel I have achieved said perfection, but more that there’s an overwhelming overachiever complex pushing me to reach for it. I have clearly learned NOTHING from “Black Swan,” which I haven’t watched yet, but I think that’s what you’re sposed to take away from the film.  That or to avoid cocaine and twins that go to Harvard and row crew. Shit, now I’m confusing “Black Swan” with “The Fighter” (yay!) and “The Social Network” (zzz)(those twins were rather yummy though, in a totally entitled prepster way). Yeah, time for bed.

**- bullshit positive speak for “effing diet.”

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7 thoughts on “The Problem With Perfection*.

  1. Hey, you linked to me! That was nice of you 🙂

    Dieting sucks. Suckity sucks sucks. You’re so cute though, I have nothing but faith that you’ll lose any weight you feel you need to lose in no time. Just take it one day at a time, give yourself permission to have little treats here and there, and somehow, some way, we’ll all make it through this alive.

  2. I can definitely relate to this. I’m finding that in my late 20s (way too close to 30……) things don’t look like they used to. I LOVE food, and truthfully, I don’t do well going without it for long. I’m trying to simply have some self-control by doing things like not going back for seconds, but when the food is really good, it’s extremely difficult. It is hard for me, as a fellow perfectionist, to not be good at something. But, I know that you can do this, and I am positive that you will be beyond beautiful on your wedding day….no matter WHAT! 🙂

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