It’s always important to consider the context of your healthy habits. Tune in to your body, and override any self-imposed standards of perfection.


If you’re a recovering perfectionist, the battle between choosing what’s “right” and what’s relevant is ongoing. Often times, “right”, at least according to an unrealistic, inflated standard, is what almost always wins. However, there are times when you are able to discover and embrace more of what is relevant for you by reframing that inner dialogue.

Here are some of the conflicting thought processes that take place in a perfectionist mindset, and how to refocus on what’s most relevant, allowing your body wisdom to take flight.

Perfectionist thought #1: Working out while sick or injured

There are no excuses, you must go to the gym and do your routine in order to stay fit and lean.

Body Wisdom: Listen to your body and let it recover. Do a light routine instead or pick a form of gentle, active recovery to support healing. It’s also okay to take a day off and rest when your body is saying you need it.

Perfectionist thought #2: Deprivation of foods you love

If you eat anything off of your plan, you’ve blown your diet and you’ve failed again. No bread. No dairy. No sugar. Deprivation leads to success!

Body Wisdom: What plan? Eat when you’re hungry. Eat what you know makes you feel good. There is no “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong”. There are only choices. The choice is always yours to make. Tune in to your physical hunger and sit with it a bit little longer.  

Perfectionist thought #3: Clothes that don’t fit.

Your pants are tight. You need to do more cardio and eat less food.

Body Wisdom: Ok, you’re not comfortable in your clothes. So what do you want to do about it? You need to wear pants, so go buy some pants that fit you now and make you feel good, just as you are. If you want to fit into your old pants again, think about making changes to your current lifestyle that may help you get there. Are you moving every day? Are you being mindful with your food choices?

Perfectionist thought #4: Don’t be ‘weak” around others.

Don’t show your weaknesses for food. Don’t let them see you want and reach for and enjoy that  “forbidden”, “bad”, “unhealthy” food. Don’t let them see you do things a “healthy person” wouldn’t normally do. You need to set the example.

Body Wisdom: Eat that dessert if you want it. Eat it until you’re satisfied, not uncomfortably full. That’s what’s important to teach. You are human. You need to show others how to be human and enjoy life while working towards goals. It’s not about deprivation. It’s not about eating perfectly. It’s about making choices that will help you enjoy yourself while working toward and maintaining your goal. If having a dessert every now and then means getting there a little more slowly, then so be it.

Perfectionist thought #5: There’s only one way to look perfect.

There is only one acceptable body type, so you better bust your butt to mold and shape your body into looking like “that girl” or “that guy”.

Body Wisdom: YOUR body type is the only body type that matters. You aren’t airbrushed. You aren’t starving. You are strong and healthy. You are resilient. You don’t have to look like “her” or “him” to be beautiful. Appreciate your body for all it does for you.

Body wisdom is full of self-compassion. While it is not giving you a free pass to do or not do whatever you want, it treats you like you would treat a friend. It won’t beat you up and kick you when you’re down like perfectionism will. Who do you want to call your friend? Who is going to make you want to show up, day after day, looking forward to the journey ahead?

We’ll take body wisdom any day.

Adapted from the original article.

Jeanne Reilly, MS, RD is a San Diego-based Registered Dietitian empowering parents to help their children develop lifelong healthy relationships with food and their bodies. She is dedicated to helping parents overcome the confusion and challenges of society-imposed rules in family nutrition and body image. Learn more and connect with her at Jeanne Reilly, RD.