Better With Sprinkles

The Colourful Side to Healthy Living.


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Breaking Down High Expectations.

Hello and happy Tuesday! How’s yours going so far? I’m slowly working my way through a law paper…and being incredible jealous of people who are done classes/schoolwork.

On the bright side, they’re calling for 15 degrees and sunny today, so I’m thinking I may take my laptop down to the Coffee Culture down the street and do some work on their patio today. Might be nice! 

So today I wanted to talk about perfectionism and expectations. I know I’ve talked about this on the blog before, but my expectations of myself are high. Really high.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what I ‘should’ do. Whether it’s in regards to my eating habits, my workouts, schoolwork, small decisions, big decisions…I feel like I have a tendency to follow a set of rules for myself. Expectations I have to reach, rules I have to follow…I’ve been aware of and trying to break these patterns for years. I’ve made a lot of progress, but I still haven’t quite escaped from my own high standards.

For example, I realized the other day that I’m going to get a 79% in one of my classes. When I saw that, I was disappointed because I was aiming to get straight A’s this year. Which got me thinking…why did I decide I needed to get straight A’s? I’ve made the decision that I won’t be moving on after I get my MA (I have no desire to work towards a PhD) so really, as long as I pass everything, I’m fine. Who decided that I needed straight A’s? Where is this pressure coming from?

This month I’ve been taking a laissez faire, unstructured approach towards my workouts, deciding the day of what I want to do instead of following a schedule or routine. Last Friday, I was struggling with this a lot. I had no desire to work out. None. I had a busy day planned, so I didn’t really have a lot of time for it anyways. But I still had a nagging thought at the back of my mind that I should go to the gym. Because I was physically able to (I wasn’t feeling sore at all), I should work out. I knew I wouldn’t be doing myself any favours if I went, so I didn’t. But I was frustrated with myself for feeling that sense of “I should.”

Last week, veggies were not appealing to me. It was sunny and warm out (some days, anyways) which is normally when I start to want salads and fresh vegetables all the time. But…nothing. Not appealing. But because I thought I should, I made myself a couple of big salads for a few lunches. And then would end up eating all the ‘good stuff’ and throwing the leaves in the garbage. Because I expected that I would want salads, I tried to force it. Which, of course, failed (And of course, as soon as I stopped trying to force myself to eat more veggies I started craving them. I’ve had monster salads for lunch the last two days and adored them).

The perfectionist extends to social situations as well – I’m always worrying about saying the wrong thing, or coming off as unlikeable. I’m pretty sure that’s why I have a tendency towards awkwardness in a lot of social situations. I just don’t know how to act natural, because in my head I’m thinking about what I just said and how it was portrayed. That probably explains why I’m such a fan of texting…I can think about my response, write it out, think about it some more, change it if necessary. Not so much in real life situations.

I don’t really have the answers for how I can fix this…I’ve been working on it for years, first through therapy and it continues to be my own work in progress. But being aware of and expressing a desire to change is where it begins, right? I think I just needed to write this out as a reminder to myself to push past that desire for perfectionism and high expectations. Whenever I put pressure on myself to do something, to reach a certain standard, There’s a few questions I need to ask.

Why do I need to do this/reach this standard?

Who says that has to be the goal?

I’m not very good at being content. Whatever I do, I tend to think of how I could have done it better, gotten a better grade, lifted more weight, made a ‘healthier’ choice…I could go on. But, I’m going to keep working on myself and breaking down that habit. It’s ok to strive for excellence and for my personal best, but complete perfection is not part of that picture. Because I would like to think I’m pretty awesome, even with some flawed aspects Winking smile

Have a good one!

<— Do you have perfectionist tendencies?

<— Texting or calling someone? I kind of hate talking to people on the phone. Thank god for texting.

<— Do you worry about being awkward in social situations? I’m actually pretty terrible. 

image source: 1, 2, 3, 4

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The Non-Plan Plan.

Good morning! How is everyone’s week going thus far? Mine’s been pretty quiet…my class on Tuesday and one of my classes on Wednesday were cancelled. The extra time off has been appreciated!

Something else for me to appreciate:

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The macadamia nut Kisses and the coconut M&M’s I won from Amanda’s giveaway a little while ago came in! I haven’t gotten to the M&M’s yet, but the Kisses are amazing. You know the cookies at Subway? Whenever I get one, my first choice is the white chocolate chip macadamia nut. Because chocolate and macadamia nut makes for a fabulous combo. Thanks love!

Speaking of good food, last nights dinner was the simplest, but most delicious dinner possible:

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A shrimp ring with cocktail sauce and a loaf of cheesy garlic bread, split between the boyfriend and myself. All I had to do with defrost the shrimp and stick the loaf in the oven for a few minutes – best dinner idea ever. Yes, I am obsessed with shrimp and cocktail sauce Smile with tongue out

Workout Plan…or Lack Thereof.

So in my goal post on Tuesday, I eluded to a new approach that I’m taking to my workouts in April.

Basically, I love working out and being active. Sitting on the couch all day, every day is not appealing to me in the least – I just get lethargic and antsy. The last year or so, I’ve been putting a lot more effort into weights over anything else, and I’m happy with the results I’ve gotten. I feel stronger and more accomplished fitness-wise than I have in a really long time.

But, I think my relationship with the gym needs some work.

Although I had never really thought of it in these terms before, I think it’s safe to say that in recovery, I became dependent on exercise. It was more comfortable for me to watch my food and calorie intake go up when I was hitting the gym and burning something off 5-6 days a week. If something got in the way and I wasn’t able to fit my workout in, I would panic. Although I knew it was unrealistic to think so, I was convinced that if I missed just one workout, I would gain five pounds instantly. Last spring, I was working overnights and still dragging myself to the gym, even when I was exhausted. Because I had a plan, and I couldn’t deviate.

Over the last 8 months or so, I’ve broken away from that mindset. I remember when I started doing Jamie Eason’s Livefit Trainer last summer, I laid awake for hours at night agonizing over the fact that the first four weeks of the program had me working out 4 days a week. And there was no cardio. After working out 5-6 days a week for years with at least 3 runs or treadmill workouts, I was absolutely terrified to cut it out completely, even for only a month. I did end up following through with it, and began to realize that I didn’t have to ‘sweat every day’ or anything of the sort – the body desperately needs rest just as much as it needs to be active.

I’m confident in saying that I have a much more comfortable relationship with exercise and the gym. I’m perfectly happy working out 4-5 days a week, and I take a complete deload every few months to allow my body ample recovery. In fact, I ended up taking all of my two-week Christmas vacation off from exercise and I enjoyed every moment.

However, thanks to this post, I realized a couple weeks ago that I’m still more reliant on the gym than I need to be. I’m a perfectionist at heart, so when I can’t stick to my planned workouts, I get a little bit of anxiety or guilt. When I’ve planned 20 minutes on the elliptical and I’m only able to complete 10 due to time constraints, I mentally beat myself up for not planning my time better. It’s frustrates me now to think about why I let that bother me so much. Why do I let a piece of paper dictate how much exercise is ‘enough’?

The truth is, I allow the gym and my workouts too much control in my life. When I got my class schedule in January, my first goal was to figure out when I was going to fit in my workouts. I was 15 minutes late to class a few weeks ago because I ‘had’ to finish up my workout. When I go back to my parents for a weekend, I make sure to pack my running shoes because I usually have a workout planned on Saturday or Sunday. If I’m tired and don’t really feel like going to the gym, I go anyways, because I had planned for it. When I need to make an appointment, I make sure it’s not between the hours of 10:00-11:00 am, because that’s been my gym time all semester. 

So, I need to break away from this mindset and give myself a bit more freedom when it comes to my workouts. So my workout plan this month?

No plan. Absolutely nothing. I will wake up in the morning and decide in the moment what my workout will be…if I workout at all that day. I love my heavy weights, so it’s likely that I’ll still hit the gym quite a bit. But now that the weather’s getting warmer, I may want to go for a run outside. Or take a walk on the trail around the river that’s near my apartment. I might stay in and stretch or do yoga…or plant my butt right on the couch. I will actually listen to my body, and not an obscure piece of paper telling me what I should be doing that day.

I’m starting to realize that I let my life revolve around my workouts, when really, it should be the other way around. I don’t know what’ll happen in May; I may decide that I like this approach and stick with it, or I might go back to following a plan (that I will allow myself more freedom on). We’ll see. But for now, I need to break away from the extra stress, guilt and anxiety that my workouts can cause. Perfectionism is stressful – when I broke away from that in my eating habits, I became a lot happier and carefree. I’m thinking breaking that mindset in my exercise will do the same.

<— What’s your approach to workouts? Planned or unplanned?

<— Anyone feel that they put too much pressure on themselves to complete workouts?

<— Favourite cookie? Oatmeal chocolate chip is another favourite for me.

 

img source 1, 2


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freEDom: Breaking Away from Perfectionist Tendencies.

I took a few weeks off due to the holidays, but I’m happy to be back and celebrating Sloane’s freEDom from Perfection campaign.

Click on over to find out more about the campaign!

When I was reading Gaining a few weeks ago (check out my full review here), I took note of all the research on the personality traits and behaviours of sufferers. Apparently, research has found a lot in common personality-wise between people that develop eating disorders

The one that jumped out at me the most? Research on the temperaments of people with eating disorders by psychologists Drew Weston and Jennifer Harnden-Fischer out of Boston University in 2001. Their research found that people who battle (and have battled) eating disorders tend to fall into one of three distinct categories.

1. Overcontrolled: “they avoid social contact, tightly control their appetites for food and for sex, limit their pleasures and withdraw from excitement, sensation and risk.”

2. Perfectionistic: “the conscientious good girls who aim to please, excel, and conform. They worry about the details but are often so fearful of making a mistake that they can’t get their work in on time. They read an arched eyebrow as contempt, a frown as a stiletto through the heart. They are intensely self-critical.”

3. Undercontrolled: “their emotions are intense, their behaviours are impulsive, they tend to fly into rages instead of expressing their anger passively or turning it inwards, and they desperately seek relationships to soothe themselves”.”

(American Journal of Psychiatry, as cited by Aimee Liu)

When I read this over, number two positively leapt off the page at me. That is my personality down to a tee. As I’ve mentioned before, I was (and continue to be, in some respects) an absolute perfectionist. In the past, I would approach everything with high expectations for myself, and be disappointed when I (predictably) couldn’t meet them. If I didn’t think I could do it, I would suddenly decide that I didn’t care anymore, because I couldn’t handle trying something and not meeting my ridiculous expectations.

And of course, part two of that category: self criticism and fear of making a mistake. Whether it’s in a social or professional situation (such as schoolwork) I’m always afraid of making a mistake or messing up. I didn’t talk about it on the blog, but I spent the first semester of grad school feeling terrified that I wasn’t smart enough or good enough for a Master’s Degree, and that I was going to be kicked out of the program quickly. I had an absolute breakdown over my the first paper I had to hand in, convinced that my professors were going to look it over and wonder how the hell I managed to get this far in academia. Of course, this didn’t happen. Over the months, I worked on quieting that inner criticism and managed to finish with better marks than I usually got in my undergrad. By not letting myself stress out and analyze every last detail of every assignment I had, I actually did better than usual.

I still need work in this respect when it comes to social situations. If I notice someone seems out of sorts or angry, I immediately jump to the conclusion that it was something that I said or did. I sometimes don’t speak up in social situations, because I’m afraid  that something I have to say will come off as stupid or pointless, and I’ll be judged accordingly. I know how ridiculous this is and I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated with myself over it. And aiming to please? Absolutely – I have a tendency to bend over backwards to make sure that other people are happy, even if it’s at the expense of my happiness sometimes. When Lui states that recovery is more about the the journey and self-discovery, I agree. I may not be disordered anymore, but there are still aspects of my temperament and behaviour that could be adjusted for the sake of my own happiness. 

So while I feel like I’ve gained freedom from my inner perfectionist, I’m still working on moving past my inner doormat and speaking up about what I think and how I feel. I know my opinion and feelings are important, even if it’s something that the other person doesn’t want to hear. So, I’m going to work on speaking my mind more, and not worrying about how the other person will think or react. 

<— Do you have perfectionist or always-aiming-to-please tendencies? How do you deal with them?