Monday, July 9, 2012

The Ever-Elusive "Perfection"



I've been thinking a lot about perfection.  Is it possible to obtain perfection in this lifetime?  The scriptures talk about "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matt 5:48)  And yet, if we were perfect we would have no need of Christ and His atonement.  It is my understanding (albeit very limited at best), that we are here to work toward perfection and becoming Christ-like, but that we will not attain perfection until the next life.  So, why make the effort at all if we know we cannot attain it?


Most of you following my blog for any length of time know that 16 months ago my husband and I embarked on a challenge - to eat clean and exercise.  I, of course, was thinking that if I did this I would finally realize a "perfected body" and that all would be well with the me and the world.  Imagine my disappointment when after 16 months of eating clean and working out for 1-1 1/2 hours 6 days a week - my "perfected body" completely alluded me.....  I am down about 25 pounds and in better shape than I have been in in years, BUT what the heck happened to that body I was dreaming about?  And SERIOUSLY 25 pounds is the best I could do?!  Ridiculous!!!!!!


Here are a few things I have learned through this painful process:


1.  Although I am still working on getting more weight off, I HAVE lost 25 pounds and am way ahead of where I started both in terms of weight and overall fitness.  Perfection is a process.


2.  I often hear people say "I just can't lose weight - no matter what I do!"  I think being consistent and moving in the right direction is ultimately more important than seeing BIG results.  I have tried nearly every weight loss program out there and being consistent for the long haul is the thing that brings the best result.  There is no "short-cut" to weight loss - and certainly no short-cut in our pursuit of perfection.  Most people I know that have lost a great deal of weight in a short period of time cannot sustain the weight loss over time.  Part of the reason I think that is true, is that they fail to change their life-style and eating habits and when the goal is attained slip quickly back to their bad habits all over again.  This applies to nearly every bad habit we are trying to overcome.


3.  Just like on our road to weight loss or any other worthwhile goal, we are going to get side-tracked - sometimes completely derailed....  Stress, health problems, vacations, etc are all reasons for failure.  The trick is not to allow the setback to completely overtake our resolve to get back on course.  If I screw up at breakfast for example, it is all too easy to say, "Well, I've already blown it for today - I will start again tomorrow."  Each meal, each morsel of food is an opportunity to start over and do it right.  This is like our pursuit of perfection - I cannot and will not be perfect on any given day, but each decision, each new crossroad is the opportunity to try again and get it right.  


4.  Sometimes it is the smallest changes that give us the biggest reward.  In the last few weeks, I have been working with someone who has suggested very SMALL changes to my eating and exercise plan - since I have been plateaued for some time now - I figured I would give it a go.  It has been amazing to me the results that are coming from such teeny changes.  One of the "teeny changes" is to walk each morning for 30 minutes (the cardio part of my workout) instead of "killing" myself on the bike or elliptical.  Apparently if you work too hard you produce too much cortisol which causes you to retain weight.  When I think of change - or perfecting myself - I think BIG, grandiose, gargantuan changes - sometimes it is the small, seemingly insignificant things that make the biggest differences. Sometimes we need to think SMALL..... 


Ultimately this is what my pursuit of the perfect body has taught me - I am not likely to achieve perfection in this lifetime.  However, using that as an excuse to not even try is unacceptable.  I MUST get up every morning and do my very best.  Prior to starting my physical challenge, I was steadily gaining at least a pound a week.  SO, not losing a substantial amount of weight each week, although disappointing, is still progress!  Staying the same is freakin' progress!  :))  I must not allow my lack of "perfection" to prevent me from trying. I have gone from a size 12 to a size 6/8 - I can live with that!  I have to constantly remind myself that progress, however small it may be, is still progress and that as long as I am moving in the right direction, that it is enough.  This is true in any aspect of our lives.  


I heard a quote when I was 19-years-old that has stayed with me all these years.  "If you tie your dreams to the trees you will be certain to reach them.  But tie them to the stars and even if you never reach them you will be a million miles beyond the trees."  I want the star (the perfect body), but even if I never get there I am WAY ahead of where I started.  Looking back to where I started is much more motivating than concentrating on how far I still have to go.   I am better today in nearly every way than I was 10 years ago - I need to be content with that and that I am moving in the right direction.  Ultimately I think that we need to strive for perfection, knowing full-well that we will fall short IN THIS LIFETIME.  We have an eternity to get it right, so be kind to yourself.  When you fall down, pick yourself up and look how far you have come.  It is all about progress - and for heaven's sake - enjoy the ride!!!!!