A woman on the BODYFORLIFEWOMENOFCOLOR Yahoo Group once accused me of being a rigid perfectionist who held others in the BFL support community to unrealistically high standards and myself to even higher, more impossible ones. She meant it as a slur, but in all honesty, I don’t see why it is wrong to expect people to put forth their best efforts when they start a program like BFL and do their damndest to eat on plan and hit their workouts every day. People rise to the standards that are set for them. Place the bar low, and you will perpetuate an atmosphere of low expectations and frequent, hastily-forgiven cheats and incomplete workouts. Raise the bar high and set an example with your own tenacious efforts week after week, and maybe those around you will step their acts up as well. Does anyone remember the 1988 movie Stand And Deliver about the high school math instructor who decides to teach calculus to a classful of delinquents and potential drop-outs? He raised the bar of minimum expectation to “You will all pass the AP Calculus exam,” not “I’ll be happy if I can get half of you to pass Consumer Math with a C-.” That’s what I’m talking about.
Because her own personality and outlook on life was so different from mine, that BFLWOC member couldn’t fathom that someone could actually ENJOY doing things right the first time and every time, and take pride in–not suffer in neurotic misery from–being well-informed, precise, conscientious, and in no need of handholding during the initial BFL process. Perhaps she would have liked me more if I’d kicked off my membership in the community by asking the same repetitive newbie questions that so many others did, gone into a public “Where are my results? This isn’t working!” freak out in weeks four or eight, or screwed up beyond having 10 M&Ms a day during the Great Black and White M&M Invasion at my office last year. Sure, I could have done those things, but oops! I actually READ the BFL book before starting the program, explored the BFL, Hussman, and Skwigg’s websites for more information, lurked and read archives in the various groups long enough to have most of my questions answered, knew how hard I could push myself in the gym thanks to being an ex-Army girl, collected nearly two hundred authorized recipes, hooked up my Palm with two great diet and exercise tracking programs to log my progress, and, oh dear, I didn’t have a single eating disorder in my medical history!
How dare I go into BFL physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared? What gall I had to get through my first 12 weeks so easily with my non-standard calorie tracking instead of playing palm-fist pattycake with the other newbies!
Hehe. Sorry, but that’s who I am and how my brain is wired, and I wasn’t about to fake being an incompetent, clueless dilettante who didn’t have the initiative to do her own research before appearing on the scene. And I wasn’t going to pretend that I was struggling when I actually found the BFL program to be laughably easy to maintain.
“Progress, not perfection” is a valid and true saying when used on the rare occasions when you slip, but it is used as a crutch by so many women who basically don’t have the internal strength and drive to do what needs to be done that I roll my eyes every time some well-meaning BFL’er uses it to console a wheenie (weak-willed whiner) who crawls back to the BFL fold for some touchy-feely coddling and sympathy after they’ve blown yet another meal/day/week/month/year.
BFL in a nutshell–read the book, write down your goals, clean out the junk in your refrigerator and pantry, stock your kitchen with authorized foods, get access to necessary workout equipment, take your starting photos and measurements to reinforce your commitment, and FOLLOW THE RULES. Finis.
That’s all you have to do, and yet somewhere between elementary school and adulthood 75% of the fat-loss hopefuls out there seem to have forgotten that rules apply to BFL as well as things like driving and football.
Maybe my military experience in basic training taught me to trust in the process without looking at results–I spent 8 weeks just trying to survive each day by following the rules set down by the U.S. Army. Was I thinking about how much weight I should be losing every week with all of the exercise I was suddenly getting? Hell no. I just wanted to get through the day without bringing the snarky attention of the cadre on me, and the best way to do that was to do what I was supposed to do and NOT SCREW UP.
Doing the right thing day after day doesn’t bring you the attention and mollycoddling that being a screw-up does on the women’s BFL boards, so maybe that’s why so many serial screw-ups can’t seem to get their acts together.
Ever notice this?
If someone posts about their perfect WEEK, they might get one or two perfunctory “Way to go!” replies from the polite members who are thoughtful enough to read and respond to every writer, but if someone else posts a “Help!!! I’ve fallen face-first into a vat of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and Oreos and have been swimming around in it for the past week taking huge gulps and washing them down with double chocolate chip Frappucinos!” message, a dozen sympathizers will jump in and write long, drawn out “Progress, not perfection” homilies, “You can do it!” pick-me-ups, and other assorted balms to the screw-up’s ego.
Oh please. I’ll make allowances for the complete newbies who have just found the program–you have an allotment of three free whines to use as you please on any given message board as you ease your way into your new lifestyle, but that’s it. Use those begs for support wisely and only when you are in true need, because at some point you will exceed your sympathy quota and be seen merely as an emotionally high-maintenance BFL tourist with no real desire to succeed.
My attitude about it? Call me a bitch, but here it is:
You screwed up. Sorry, but that’s the unvarnished truth at the heart of your cry for help. I don’t care if you screwed up. No one else cares either, no matter what they say. Women are good at automatically doling out the bleeding heart words without investing more than a passing thought to the source of the misery. We do it as easily as we draw breath.
The only one who *should* care is YOU. This is your body. This is your life. This is your health. That is your self-made flab hanging off of your arms, belly, and thighs. You knew the rules, and you chose to ignore them. You could have limited the damage to one messed up meal or missed workout instead of letting it snowball into several. Suck up the knowledge that *you* dropped the ball and move on with your life and your program.
Accumulate as many good rule-following days as you can, because no one else is going to get you to your goal. Here are your choices: Follow the rules and meet or exceed your original goals, or ignore the rules, soak up some more false sympathy, and wonder why at the end of 12 weeks your “after” photos still look like “befores.”
Your life, your choice.
If you decide to follow the rules, realize that plugging away at your workouts and meals day after day and racking up a string of perfect or near perfect days will garner you almost no recognition at all during your challenge. It’s not fair, but that’s how it goes. In an ideal world, the men and women who quietly get their shit DONE would be the ones receiving 15 heartfelt and sincere “Awesome job!” replies to their progress posts, and the attention-seeking wheenies with their umpteenth teary confessions of failure would get a single, well-deserved “Take that Snickers bar out of your mouth and get your lazy, shamming ass to the gym.”
This isn’t an ideal world, however, so be prepared to seek daily perfection in unrecognized anonymity for 12 weeks or more. *You* know you are doing the right thing and following the rules, and that should be enough, but if it’s not…just smirk with well-deserved pride at the end of your challenge when you post your phenomenal 12 week results photos and bask in the waves of praise and envy that will be pouring in from all directions while the wheenies are still reporting their latest round of self-pitying screw-ups.
This post has been reference in the following blogs: