You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Be a WLS Success


Have you tried the Seafood Diet? Actually, it’s spelled “See-Food.” So many of us have tried it. You know the one. You “see food,” and you eat it.

JoAnn, one of my coaching clients, went on that diet last weekend. She ate anything she saw that looked good to her: at home (white toast with butter, a handful of chocolate chips, crackers), at a gas station (powered donuts), and in her friend’s back yard for a socially distanced visit (coke and chips). JoAnn was heartbroken about her behavior.

She kept thinking, “What’s wrong with me?”

When we met, JoAnn told me, “I’d like to blame it on my hormones, or on the fact that my life is stressful. I could blame it on my frustrating food addiction, or maybe even on depression. But, honestly, I don’t know what made me do it. There must be something wrong with me.”

Many of us have been trying to answer the question, “What’s wrong with me?” for many years. (I know I have.) The truth is it doesn’t really matter what’s wrong. The more productive question is, “What can I do right now that will support my desire to be healthy?”

By focusing on what might be wrong with her, JoAnn was discouraging herself. She believed she’d keep making poor food choices because she was flawed.

In a perfect world, knowing the root cause of her grazing would be helpful, but today JoAnn doesn’t know the root cause. So, that’s not information that will get JoAnn back on track right now – and now is her moment. It’s all she’s got.

When you go on the “See-Food Diet” it’s easy to tell yourself, “Now that I’ve blown it, I might as well keep eating.” JoAnn basically decided if she wasn’t going to follow her plan exactly, she was a failure. And she acted accordingly.

It’s no wonder JoAnn felt doomed.

I’m sure many WLS people go on the “See-Food Diet” from time to time. Life happens. But spending time on that diet isn’t a reason to give up. You can be gloriously imperfect and still achieve your health goals.

To banish your black-and-white, all-or-nothing perfectionism, try these three tips:

1) Accept your mistakes and learn from them. When you feel anxious or sad for having done something imperfect, switch from the self-critical “giving-up mode” to “learning mode.” Instead of berating yourself the way JoAnn did, ask yourself: “What can I learn from this episode of see-food eating, and what will I do differently right now?”

2) Watch your words. What you tell yourself about yourself will affect your ability to have good self-care. Making one mistake does not mean you *always* make mistakes. It doesn’t mean you can’t control yourself. When you start to feel like you’re a hopeless case, tell yourself: “I will monitor my negative self-thoughts today and substitute more encouraging thoughts whenever I notice I’m berating myself.”

3) Lower your standards. Practice making a few mistakes on purpose. Then, practice doing a few tasks less thoroughly than you would have in the past. As you practice you will develop a tolerance for imperfection. And remember, practice makes … well, maybe not.

The truth is you don’t have to be perfect to lose weight.

Let’s say you do what you need to do 80 percent of the time to lose weight and keep it off. You’ll probably do pretty well.

Why don’t you give it a try and find out? It sure beats doing what you need to do almost ZERO percent of the time.