Guest Post by Kelsey Cook
Kelsey is a healthy lifestyle blogger and Health Coach based in New York City. Kelsey specializes in helping her clients reach an ideal level of health and wellness while still enjoying life and allowing for indulgences without the guilt attached. A few of Kelsey’s favorite things are the beach, green juice, yoga, puppies, margaritas, music festivals, pizza and traveling. You can hear more from Kelsey at www.bananasandbellinis.com.
In my early 20s, being “perfect” was something that I strived for. This desire manifested itself most prominently in my quest for the perfect body through a strict, vegan diet that eventually morphed into orthorexia. While I had the best of intentions, I became so obsessed with being perfect and healthy that I completely lost sight of who I was, how to take care of myself and how to enjoy my life…the biggest problem was that I didn’t even realize it.
Eventually, as quite often happens in these cases, I reached a point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was exhausted, stressed out and just generally miserable, even though I had reached a weight I considered “perfect” and had the healthiest diet of anyone I knew. I decided to seek help and was able to work through my issues in a way that was healthy, productive and sustainable. In the years since, my goal is no longer to be perfect, but to be balanced. I work to maintain a lifestyle that makes me happy, keeps me healthy and doesn’t create unnecessary stress in my life. Do I have my moments? Of course. Who doesn’t? But, the difference is that now I know that happiness is achieved through balance, not perfection. Here are my top three reasons why being balanced is better than being perfect:
- Balance doesn’t allow for “cheat days” because it’s impossible to cheat. When you are working around the clock to maintain a perfect diet and avoid “bad” foods, a well intentioned “cheat day” can easily turn into a full-on binge where you inhale every cookie within a 10-mile radius because, “it’s okay, I’ll be good the rest of the week”. When you’re balanced, you eat the cookie if you want to eat the cookie no matter what day of the week it is. You skip the gym to go to happy hour with your girlfriends if that’s what you want to do. And you know what? It’s fine. One cookie or one skipped gym session isn’t going to derail everything you’re working for. Eating every cookie in the tri-state area? That could cause some problems.
- Balance alleviates stress and anxiety. Letting go of the idea of perfection is seriously liberating. As soon as I stopped trying to be perfect, the feeling of anxiety that always consumed me was just not there anymore. I could go about my day without spiraling into panic over what I was eating for lunch, when I was going to be able to make it to the gym or if the shirt I was wearing made me look fat. When you’re not stressed out over trivial things, you can focus your energy on things that are important, like spending quality time with your friends, getting work done productively and accurately and pursuing hobbies that you are interested in.
- Balance is sustainable. When I was maintaining a strict vegan diet, I had this terrible habit of getting drunk, housing an entire pizza and spending the next day mentally bashing myself and swearing that I would never do it again. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to find out that it did happen again. Many, many times. What can I say? I love cheese and was forcing myself to completely avoid something that I really enjoy, all in the name of trying to be perfect. Now, I maintain a mostly vegan diet and when I feel like having a slice of pizza, I eat the damn slice of pizza and I rarely go overboard. When you deny, deny, deny all the time, you are bound to overdo it when your self-control eventually wears thin, and this goes for anything, not just food. Perfection is not sustainable over a long period of time…listening to your body, however, is.
So, here’s the thing. “Perfect” doesn’t exist. And the chances of you being happy, healthy, enjoying life and maintaining the lifestyle you’ve created in the pursuit of perfection are slim to none. You’re allowed to be obsessed with green juice and yoga while also being obsessed with pizza and taking naps. I am. And not only is it okay, it’s normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Once you let go of the idea of being perfect and find a level of balance that you can maintain, your life will take on a new form and you will be the happiest, healthiest, most perfectly imperfect version of yourself possible. I promise 😉