Nov 2012

The price of perfection

As women, we have this idea that we can do all of this work to achieve a certain goal, and once we reach it, we’ll effortless stay there forever.

Last week I was talking to a woman who was interested in working with me privately and she asked me, “I’ve tried so many things and nothing has stuck, how am I supposed to know that this is going to work for me?”

I gave her the answer she didn’t want to hear.

I told her that most weight loss programs promise perfection.  They tell you that once you lose weight that your cravings will go away, you’ll want to work out everyday and you’ll be confident all the time.

It’s frankly bullsh*t.

I told her that her cravings won’t go away, but she’ll welcome them and use them as a map to understand what she really wants.  She won’t want to workout everyday but she’ll be more likely to remember how good it feels when she does.  She’s gonna have days when she feels fat and won’t have anything to wear, but she won’t feel like her life is over.

When we strive for perfection we get rigid, scared and fail easily.  There’s no room for the awesome messiness when perfection is our priority. Life is full of ups and downs and really good bread. And I think, perfection is not all it’s cracked up to be. Tweet it.

What if we redefined perfection?

What if you measured perfection in how much you’re reading instead of how little you’re eating?

What if perfection is somewhere between a size 6 and a size 10?

What if perfection is moving your body everyday, even though you’re just walking for 15 minutes?

What if perfection is being completely hung over because you were too busy taking tequila shots with your besties to even care about how you felt the next day?

What if perfection is buying the perfect holiday dress even though you’re heavier than you were last year?

What if perfection is just about not trying to fix yourself, for once?

In the comments below I want to hear about how the pursuit of perfection has messed you up in the past, and how you’re gonna redefine it going forward.

Releasing my obsession with perfection has been the most challenging and freeing process of my life.  It’s unloaded anxiety, fear and shame from my being and has allowed me to create a life of adventure, passion and guilt-free trips to the ice cream shop.

This week I really want you to exist in this new definition of perfection and see how it shifts everything.  If you need support, just reach out here, and I’ll make sure to be there for you.



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  • Ashlee

    Sarah, after reading this I realized I’m struggling with this and I never even really knew it until now! Seriously. I guess I’ve seen it a little bit in things like school work, but I just never really thought I was a “perfectionist” in other areas of my life…well, I was wrong! The hardest thing to process for me is the “fix yourself” part of what you wrote. Now I realize I’m always trying to fix something in myself! (This will probably take me a long time to process and apply, but worth it!)

    Thanks Sarah! As always!

    • Ashlee, so glad you had an ah-ha moment! Sometimes it’s hard to put down the habit of fixing yourself bc we fear that our lives will go to shit! But take it one week at a time, and you’ll see that it feels really good, and your life will actually get better. xoxo

  • I will totally admit I have always been 100% obsessed with being perfect. To be honest the only thing it has done for me is made me an absolute stress case who doesn’t like my non perfect self very much! I love this shift in thinking. I have clue where my definition of perfection came from but why does it have to be so black and white. Yet another source of amazing inspiration Sarah. Thank you!

    • You’re so welcome babe! Its great to know where your drive to be perfect comes from bc then we can understand how to re-code our minds. Do think about your new definition of perfection and include why it’s more effective. xoxo

  • I’ve been getting your emails for a few months now and this one really hit close to home. I’ve always strived to be perfect. I’ve been a size 10 and I’ve been a size 20. I always lose sight of things because I just want to be perfect. When things doing go perfectly, I sabotage it. I hope I can start seeing life differently one of these days.

    • Hi Tiffany, I’m so happy this resonated. It’s such a tough cycle. I bet what you call “sabotage” is just a part of you that wants to loosen up, have more fun and eat cake! That part ain’t so bad. How can you let more of her in?

  • I struggled with this one for a LONG TIME…but I am living much more in the self-accepting paradigm you describe now. Bodies change throughout the month, heck, throughout the DAY sometimes…coming to peace with that has been helpful…and realizing that what I see in the mirror is distorted, and making an effort to see myself with the same kind eyes as I see everyone else with!
    Letting go of perfectionism is really a life’s work! Not just about weight/body issues, but noticing when you are always raising the bar with work, allowing oneself to make mistakes and be compassionate with YOURSELF…keeping a picture of my little girl self on my desk and remembering that SHE’S inside me and not to be mean to her…learning to replace critical self talk with loving affirmations…eventually it all reached critical mass and I now am mostly free of those voices (i’m 51) and NO I don’t do it perfectly all the time!!!! and that’s OK!!!

    • Angela

      You hit the nail on the head. Ridding ourselves of the perfection gene is lifetime work. I believe it takes little right step action everyday to keep it at bay …and I will follow your lead and keep a picture of my little girl self with me and remember not to be mean to her…what a powerful exercise. Who could be mean to the little girl me 🙂 Thank you!!

    • Jill!! Amen!! This is incredible. I LOVE that you keep a photo of you as a little girl near by. What an incredible reminder! I do the same. You’re such an inspiration to all of is here, thank you so much for sharing! xoxox

  • Beautiful one mama! Perfect is knowing that I won’t ALWAYS know, that I still might freak out at times, get a bit nervous and insecure and that’s just perfect 🙂 Being imperfect and yet being perfectly okay with our own imperfection. That’s sexy.

  • You hit the nail on the head, Sarah! This is exactly why I feel like I struggle with eating healthy + working out – it’s an all or nothing kind of thing for me. I need to learn to live comfortably somewhere in between “all” and “nothing” and celebrate small victories instead of expecting perfection. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  • I’ve been really struggling with this the last few years. What happens with me is that I get so wrapped up in being perfect that it paralyzes me. It stops me from even starting because I’m doomed to fail. I’ve experienced an incredible amount of pain the last few years and I think I am using this type of thinking to protect myself, to keep living in the shadows. Thanks for the reminder. There is a difference between existing and actually living….

  • This is SUCH a great post Sarah! I love it and I love all of the examples that you gave here. It’s funny because I just posted about this on my blog this morning (www.studioeats.com), so your post really hit home with me today! I have been able to lose weight over the past year by letting go of control and realizing that there is no such thing as perfection. My favorite line in your post is the “awesome mesiness”. I love having an unstructured, spontaneous lifestyle rather than a super control, structured, no-fun lifestyle! 🙂 Thanks, Sarah. Always love your thoughts.

    • Jamie, loved your post too! Glad we have a chorus of people preachin. Awesome messiness is way more fun:)

  • Angela

    Sarah! This was the best read to start off my day. Yes perfection is overrated and there is no fun in perfection. In my quest to lose weight, I have thrown in the towel on so many occasions and forgotten the love because in the moment I wasn’t “perfect”. “There’s no room for the awesome messiness when perfection is our priority.” and who doesn’t love an awesome mess 🙂 I accept your challenge of shifting in a new definition of perfection and see how it shifts everything. Excited to see what unfolds xo

    • Angela, I’m so happy to hear that you’re really committing to this. It’s a delicate space to hit, but when you do, there’s so much freedom. Let me know how it goes.



  • Sarah,
    you never cease to inspire, but this time, well . . . WOW. You prove that life is not a movie, that people are not perfect and yet, life can still be amazing. You allow truth and direction to be apparent yet not scary, in fact you make life more dreams more tangible.

    You are living your purpose. I am forever grateful to have worked with you and been changed by your work.



  • Alli


    I read this and it was exactly what I needed. I feel like I have been struggling these last couple of weeks to be perfect and I feel like I just keep loosing control. I can’t seem to put my finger on why but I can’t get my eating back to normal. As soon as I feel like I “cheat” I feel like a failure…hence the strive for perfection. I’m going to work on re-connecting with my body and try letting go of trying to be perfect.

    Miss you!


  • Linda

    Pursuit of perfection, is a lot of work, and it is not a goal that can be truly reached and/or maintained.
    Life is much too fluid and changing to control. I learned that when I control things in my life they don’t work. When I let life happen, I can enjoy and mold to it easier than to an impossible standard.
    To learn to accept myself and celebrate my individual qualities was hard work and such a relief. Sara you really helped me learn to value myself for who I am and because of this I am the happiest I have ever been. Others see it in me and say they have never seen me more genuine and satisfied. Stopping the negative self talk has been a reward.
    I don’t think I lowered my personal standards I just spend more time celebrating what is and not what could be.
    Gratitude to you,

    • Linda, I love how you so eloquently explain the process of stepping back and letting life happen. So gorgeous. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve discovered how truly amazing you are, and I’m not surprised that everyone is noticing. I can just tell from your post that you’re radiating! Just so happy for you. xoxo

  • […] Sarah Jenks~ The Price of Perfection […]

  • Hi Sarah,
    The first time I read your email I teared up and coming back to your blog to read this once more, I am teary AGAIN. This really hit me. It’s funny, I find myself so willing to see others as they are with all their imperfections that make them unique and beautiful. But when it comes to myself, I have these outrageous standards I hold myself to. I love, love, love your idea of not trying to fix myself and redefining my idea of perfection. Done. I feel a whole new mind shift happening and I so whole-heartedly embrace it!

    Thank you for your insights!

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