Hello, fabulous BBR tribe!
Firstly, I must say it is a real pleasure meeting you all and embarking on your journeys! Following your progress and witnessing the amazing transformations is one of my favourite things of the ever-expanding BBR community, and I hope you are enjoying it at least half as much as I am. Fabulous work!
Speaking of the forum – well done on utilising this safe space to share your victories, struggles and concerns. And currently, one of the most prominent themes in the “struggles and concerns” department is, frankly, the fear of screwing up. Rachel and Emma have been talking about it a lot lately for a very good reason – being less than perfect really does seem to bother you, beautiful ladies!
So, I thought I’d chime in and address the ugly elephant in the room too, mostly from the nutritional point of view, but also in general!
The trap of flawlessness
Most commonly, it goes like this: you decide to make a major lifestyle change, whatever motivates you to do so. Then, you spend hours of research and find a program that is likely to work for you and your goals. If you’re lucky, you pick one of the BBR programs straight away – otherwise, there may be a bit of a trial and error period, as not all plans are created equal. 😉
Then, you’re all set and ready to start. You open the app and read the welcome message of your program. It says “Give it your all. Work hard. Push yourself to your limits”. Great!
You follow the plan religiously – meal guide, workouts…and then something happens, and you have an indulgent meal with your fam. Or skip a scheduled workout as your spouse couldn’t pick up the kids from cheerleading. Or get a terrible cold. Or mother nature gets in the way (hang in there, Townsville).
You slip and freak out – potentially, even fall of the wagon for a long time, and then beat yourself up even more. Not a great cycle to be in, huh? And yet, most of us perfectionists have been there at some point.
So, are you missing something? Actually, yes – and it’s been right there in front of you all along!
You do you, boo
Read that welcome message again, with me: “Give it YOUR all. Work hard. Push yourself to YOUR limits”.
See, it’s about YOUR maximum effort, not some abstract benchmark. To take it to complete extremes, a single mother of six on fixed income is very unlikely to have the same time and resources as a securely employed childless lady with a fat savings account and a huge support network. However, both can make positive, healthy changes – to whatever extent they are comfortable with, without neglecting loved ones or driving themselves insane!
When it comes to nutrition, extreme perfectionism can be particularly harmful both mentally and physically – let’s break it down!
Don’t be a mini-“yo-yo”
Did you know that most individuals who lose weight are unlikely to maintain it long-term?
Of course, they are also unlikely to be content with the newly gained weight, and eventually attempt losing it again, likely with some extreme methods.
And then, once the new bout of extreme dieting is over, they disregard the rules completely and gain what they’ve lost and sometimes more…and the cycle continues. This phenomenon is known as weight cycling, or “yo-yo dieting” – and it can increase the risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. Furthermore, chronic “yo-yo dieters” are likely to keep getting bigger and bigger over time.
Now, it’s worth noting that such extreme consequences are more common for those who engage in extreme, unhealthy diet behaviours – such as going on a crazy juice cleanse or meal replacement shakes, only to then fall back into the old habits. The BBR nutrition plan is nothing like that – instead, it offers a sustainable approach for a permanent lifestyle change!
However, if you keep falling out every time you slip (which is what many people do), you are still being a mini-“yo-yo”, which can be very discouraging!
Instead of going one step forward and two steps back, even if you’re only moving two steps forward and one step back, you’re still heading in the right direction.
Now that we’ve established that the best approach after a “slip-up” is to just shrug it off and keep moving forward, let’s address another beast that may be stalling your progress.
Guilt and anxiety around food
Although not officially recognized as a part of the eating disorders spectrum (yet), orthorexia is one of the newest bullies around the block, basically defined as an obsession with eating healthy food.
Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with fuelling your body properly with delicious and nutritious fuel – however, obsessing over it can be a huge issue and potentially lead to more serious consequences such as a full-blown eating disorder.
In fact, orthorexia typically starts as an intention to eat healthily – however, some individuals, especially perfectionists, tend to take it a few notches too far. From elimination of entire food groups to obsessive avoidance of particular ingredients, orthorexia can present in a variety of ways.
If one prone to food anxiety and orthorexia can’t consume “perfect” meals for some reasons, they are likely to experience immense guilt and shame, or feeling like they’ve failed themselves.
This is where I want to scream “NOOOOOO, GIRL!” The entire BBR team can’t stress enough – food is more than fuel, otherwise everyone would be perfectly content on Soylent (and no, I don’t recommend it – but a curious concept nevertheless). It’s also nourishment and pleasure. It’s blowing candles on that birthday cake and enjoying the taste. It’s a sausage sizzle and beer with friends. It’s a visit to an all-you-can-eat buffet and indeed eating ALL you can, not just salad leaves. Of course, not all day every day – but certainly from time to time! 80/20, remember?
There’s a lot of talking about “clean” food – but let me assure you, any food is clean, unless you dropped it on the floor, of course!
To check if you may be taking it too far, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you feel strong anxiety around food?
- Are you worried about having spontaneous meals (e.g. random dinner invitations), as the foods offered may not necessarily meet your standards of “purity”?
- Do you feel guilty after eating something that’s not included in your plan?
- Do you withdraw from activities that don’t align with your dietary regime?
- Do you get heightened self-esteem and feeling of “superiority” when you’re able to maintain your “perfect” regime?
If you’ve answered “yes” to some of the above, you may need to give yourself more room and try stressing less about food! And if it’s really bothering you, consider calling a local helpline or seeking professional help – you’ve got to look after yourself, girl!
Above all, remember that the fabulous BBR guide has to be perfect (why would the team offer you anything short of perfection) – but you don’t have to! The guide doesn’t get sick, doesn’t get called into work and doesn’t have to look after several kids and a dog. So, take a deep breath, and then breathe all that guilt out. You’re doing great.
Do the best YOU can – and the rest will come.
Thanks for reading! - Your BBR Dietitian