Perfectionism can leak into every part of your life, especially exercise. We perfectionists get so worried about doing the right workout for the right length of time at the right intensity that we barely focus on how we actually feel about our workouts, much less enjoy them. If this sounds familiar, there are some things you can practice to liberate yourself from the constant need for perfection:
- Live in the Moment: Living in the moment is one of those overused phrases that sounds good but, for perfectionists, may feel as impossible as growing another nose. However, paying attention what you're doing allows your worries ("Am I doing this right? Should I be doing something else?") to fade away as you immerse yourself in the movement of your body. Practice focusing on your workouts. When your mind drifts, bring it back to the exercise you're doing with a remind that this is your exercise time - it's about making your body strong and fit, so there's no 'right' way to do it.
- Find Value in Every Effort: One of the worst side effects of perfectionism is feeling like a failure. Instead of thinking, "Hey, I went to the gym 5 times this week," you're thinking, "I only did 20 minutes that one day and I know I could've lifted more weight." Second-guessing yourself after the fact sucks all the enjoyment out of what you actually accomplished. Practice listing all the things you can be proud of rather than your mistakes.
- Tune Out the Self-Talk: We all have voices in our heads, but the perfectionist's voice sounds a lot like the mean teacher I had in 3rd grade who never let me share at show and tell. When the Mean Teacher starts nagging, I find the best defense is the simplest: I tell her to shut up because I'm going to do my workout anyway...even if it's wrong, wrong, wrong. And then I stick out my tongue and sing nanny, nanny, boo, boo.
What about you? Are you an exercise perfectionist and, if so, how does that affect your workouts? How do you let go of perfection and find satisfaction in what you're doing? Leave a comment and tell us about it.