Progress, Not Perfection

weight loss“Progress, not perfection.” Three important words that I invoke pretty much daily with my patients (sometimes I use the variation “perfection is the enemy of progress”). That’s one reason why I was delighted by the Washington Post article, “A weight-loss expert changes his tune: focus on enjoyment, not perfection.” Amen to that.

I’ve benefitted from Dr. Yoni Freedhoff’s blog, Weighty Matters, for years, so I was interested to read about his change in thinking based on his years of experience with working with patients. I was particularly interested in his move away from encouraging the tenants of the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). I used to believe in the NWCR, too, until I was actually participating in it.

Once a year, I would receive a survey in the mail, asking me, among other things, how much of certain foods I consumed, on average, over the span of a year. I would gnash my teeth trying to think about how many peaches I ate each week during the few months of the year when they were in season. Then, I had to spread that total out over the year to get my weekly average. I ended up guessing, and knew that other participants must be guessing, too, making the survey pretty much an indicator of nothing.

But I digress. There are a few points in the WaPo article that made do a fist pump in the air. The first was when Freedhoff said he was loosening up his approach:

“We changed because we realized we were treating people by numbers, not as individuals. It’s arrogant to think that there’s one right way for everybody.”

An then again when he said he’s moved away from relying on body mass index (BMI):

“We started to use a term I coined, ‘Best Weight,’” he says. “That’s whatever weight you reach when you are living the healthiest life that you honestly enjoy.”

And finally:

“Eating food is one of the most basic human pleasures,” he notes. “If a diet causes suffering, you’re not going to stick with it. Desiring certain foods doesn’t mean you lack willpower. It’s just a sign of the human condition.”

Indeed.