Perfectly Imperfect

News flash (to myself): I am not perfect. The signs of my imperfection are everywhere, or at least they were this month in terms of minding my own fitness.

It all started with the night I ate pizza. Acting on a repressed craving – using it as a poor reward for the fact that I’m swimming in last year’s T-shirts – I probably ate half the pie, ruining my perfect food record to date. Fortunately, I was so nauseated from eating so much grease and cheese that I could only get down a small piece of chocolate cake for desert.

Riddled with guilt and a stomach the size of a volleyball, I did double duty at the gym the next day, confessing all to my trainer, Michael Logan, C.P. F.T., M.E.S. His response was, “That’s OK, Jill, just get back on track today and thank me in advance for a great workout.” Then he put on some music, and put 20 of us through a rigorous hour of kickboxing.

Unfortunately, my exercise record was the next to hit the skids. The week after the pizza binge, my brother and his daughters (ages 15 and 12) came to town for five days. We shuttled from museum to restaurant to movie to restaurant and so on, with yours truly as tour guide. Although we “ran around” a lot, I didn’t get in much physical activity. Unless you consider starting the car, making beds, and picking up after two young girls exercise.

My get-back-on-track plan went to pot the day they left, when I promptly came down with the flu. I knew I was done for when I got winded going down the stairs from my third-floor condo. For the first time in six months, I spent a week in bed, nose running, eyes tearing and ears ringing with their words. “Get back on track, Jill.” That is, until the NyQuil kicked in and I dreamed of fighting dogs (but that’s another column).

And so here I am, finally on the upswing. Getting ready to ease back into my routine and prove that you can fall off the wagon, binge like the best of them (but I don’t recommend it) and start over again.

Which is what I’m doing. Keeping a food diary and planning this week’s much-needed exercise. Trying to make up for lost time. Still, I’ve learned something from the derailment. Mainly, that I’m changing. In the past I might not have been so forgiving of my sins or able to start over so quickly.

“It’s important to realize that overcoming overeating is not about being perfect,” says Ann Kearney-Cooke, PhD., the psychologist (who specializes in body image) I’m working with. “It’s about knowing you’ll go off track and developing the skills to get back on track faster so you can maintain long-term physical and emotional fitness. After all, it’s not just your weight you’re working on.”

Frankly, being imperfect comes as a great relief. After all, who can sustain perfection in a world with so much temptation? I’m learning it’s more about sustaining motivation and self-preservation. To me, that makes perfect sense.”

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