Perfectionism is a Strategy | Weight Loss for Unstoppable Moms with Dr. Priyanka Venugopal

Episode #19: Perfectionism Strategy

Aug 09, 2022

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Did you know that perfectionism is an actual strategy? You’d be surprised by how many of us, especially working moms, are actually perfectionists. Though you may not identify with the perfectionist label, perfectionism is an extremely broad umbrella category that a lot of people fit into, and we’re breaking it all down in today’s episode.

Our perfectionist mindset is creating results in our life and on the scale, but how do we identify them? A perfectionist mindset is often a roadblock to reaching your ideal weight with simplicity and joy, which is what this podcast is all about, and understanding your perspective when it comes to perfectionism is one of the most important skills in creating more of what you want in your life.

Tune in this week for an introduction to the concept of perfectionism. I’m sharing why perfectionism doesn’t just present as wanting everything to be perfect, why perfectionism may have served you as a strategy in the past, and how to gain clarity on the negative outcomes that perfectionism is currently creating in your life and on the scale, so you can begin to change them.


I’ve created a free video series just for you. It’s called The Power Start Weight Loss Guide, where I’ll be going in-depth on some of my most powerful and simple tools for creating forever weight loss, and it’s available right now. All you have to do is click here for instant access! 


Enrollment for The Unstoppable Group opens soon!
Click here to learn more. 


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • How we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that the word perfect is something to aspire to.
  • The role that perfectionism has played in the mental construct that you grew up with and have taken into your adult life.
  • Why perfectionism isn’t just about striving for everything to be perfect, and how to see where you might identify as having pieces of a perfectionist mindset.
  • How perfectionism may have served you as a strategy throughout your life.
  • Where perfectionism has resulted in rigid thinking in my life, and so many of my clients’ lives.
  • What we’re trying to protect ourselves from when we engage in perfectionist thinking.
  • The strategies, practices, and mindsets that you can employ to challenge your perfectionist mindset, with an infusion of emotional safety.


Listen to the Full Episode:



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Full Episode Transcript:

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Hey, I'm Dr. Priyanka Venugopal and you're listening to Weight Loss for Unstoppable Moms Episode 19: Perfectionism is a Strategy. This episode is all about the strategy of perfectionism. Did you know that perfectionism is an actual strategy? You would be surprised how many of us, especially working moms, are actually perfectionist. Though, you may not identify with the label of perfectionist, having a perfectionist mindset is actually an extremely broad umbrella category that we are breaking down today.... and more importantly, the resulting outcomes that we create in our life and on the scale, when we keep the perfectionist mindset. 

If you want to reach your ideal weight and create lightness for your body, you need to have simplicity, joy, and strategic decisions infused into your life. I'm a physician turned life and weight loss coach for ambitious [00:01:00] working moms. I've lost over 60 pounds without counting points, calories or crazy exercise plans. Most importantly, I feel calm and light on the scale and in my life. There's some delicious magic when you learn this work and the skills I'm going to be teaching you. 

Ready? Let's get to it.

Hey friends! 

This episode is all about, or really just the start of talking about perfectionism. And I'm going to think about this episode really as an introduction episode to perfectionism, which I imagine will be some type of a series I'll be threading in and out throughout the life of this podcast.

Mostly because it's work that I am still doing for myself. 

I think that the perfectionist mindset, which we are about to get into, can often be a roadblock to reaching your ideal weight with more simplicity and joy.... and that's what we are talking about on this podcast. 

Right? Weight loss. [00:02:00] 

But more important for me really is infusing more simplicity and joy into your life.

Now infusing more simplicity and joy into your life doesn't start with having more time or less tasks. It really starts and ends with your perspective or your mindset. And it's this perspective and mindset that is the fuel that eventually going to create more time and less tasks and really more of what you want in your life.

And really the reason that I wanted to introduce this perfectionist mindset as an introductory topic today is because it's an important enough topic and a broad enough topic that I wanted to get the seeds planted for you here on the show. 

What we're doing here together is planting seeds. And then you get to go off and contemplate them and water them, and then we get to watch them blossom.

Okay. So before we get into planting seeds and talking about perfectionism, I [00:03:00] wanted to take just a moment to tell you about my free resource that I've carefully curated just for you. It is called The Power Start Weight Loss Guide. It's a short three video series directly from inside The Unstoppable Library, which is my video library for my private clients.

Inside this three video series, you are going to learn one of my most powerful weight loss tools. I teach two tools that work together, hand in hand that you can literally take with you anywhere. You don't need to have a journal or a planner or fancy app. You can literally these tools on the beach, at work, with your family. 

Really... anytime, anywhere-- no matter how much time bandwidth or energy you actually have, which is why I call them Power Tools. When you sign up for The Power Start Weight Loss Guide, you're going to get immediate access to the three video series. Through our work together in your email inbox with the attached worksheet that I have for you, we are going to customize these tools [00:04:00] to your unique self and over that week together, I'll be walking you through the common obstacles and solutions that I've experienced and seen my clients experiencing in implementing these tools. Make sure you grab it, it is seriously so good! 

You can get it at 

So let's get back to today's episode perfectionism. First off before we really even get into the episode, I want you to just think about the word perfect and perfectionism. 

They have a bias, right? 

I know for me when I see the word perfect, I immediately think that it's something that I want. I can just see my most reflexive answer to be able to pick the perfect most right way served upon a menu is what I would naturally gravitate toward. And it's because perfect is associated deep in our cores with something good. 

Perfect grades, perfect scores being the perfect kid. 

And it's always been talked about in the affirmative the [00:05:00] thing that we want to get, the thing that we want to achieve. It's literally been indoctrinated into us that the word perfect is something to aspire to.

But what I'm sharing with you on this podcast is perfect and perfectionism is a loaded word. 

While it may have seemed innocuous as a child or in your earliest youth, it's likely played a role in your child- like mental construct that you grew up with. And some part of you took this mental construct into your adult life, which is the part of you that became a perfectionist.

Now I shared at the very start of this episode that I think of perfectionism as a very, very broad category and today's episode is really just the beginning. Let me just start by saying you really might not even identify as a perfectionist. What this episode is really intended to do is to paint a broad picture so that you get to see and identify with, if there are any pieces of being a perfectionist that might apply to you.[00:06:00] 

From my own experience and work in this topic, I don't think of perfectionism as only striving for perfect. I think of it as an umbrella mindset that also shows up when you're trying to avoid imperfection. 

Let me say that again. 

Perfectionism is not just striving for what is good, best or perfect. 

It is also avoiding imperfection.

And for me, it's the latter that really creates the ruckus: the avoidance of imperfection. So why is it that we ever want to avoid imperfection? 

So on the surface level, we desire the A+, the gold stars, the perfect plan and follow through, the perfect results because we believe we can more easily feel secure and confident. 

But deeper than that, why is it that we want to avoid imperfection? 

It's because we want to avoid the emotional experience of what imperfection would bring for us.

[00:07:00] Maybe embarrassment, disappointment, frustration, maybe even shame. 

And so perfectionism has served as a strategy. Now, when you really think about this, thinking about yourself, vigorously, raising your hand, shaking it around, saying, I want that. I want that most perfect most right thing, the perfect most right decision, the perfect most right way.

It's because we have attached that perfect most right thing with feeling secure. 

So, it makes sense that we have turned perfectionism or our desire to avoid imperfection into a strategy. It's because it feels safe and secure. 

And when we really get into it, it's that we're creating a feeling of safety and security from an uncomfortable emotional experience.

All of this is to say, is that your perfectionism tendencies, which we're going to get into in just a moment has been your strategy to avoid an [00:08:00] uncomfortable emotional experience, some flavor of embarrassment, disappointment, frustration, or even shame. And what I will say is over the years, and I am definitely one that will raise my hand to say, this has totally been me-- this strategy has really led to rigid thinking. 

And I can say this because honestly, I am so familiar with a lot of these patterns. This has been me forever and even now I bump up against many old rigid tendencies. And what I'm going to be sharing with you at the end of this episode is some of the strategies and mindsets that I have employed to really free myself of the perfectionism mindset and this rigid thinking model.

Now, it took me a while to really see this, but as I've done the work, and as you reflect on this, start to pay attention to how perfectionism is really a creation of a rigid mindset. 

It's like, if I do all the worksheets, then I'll get the results. 

Or if [00:09:00] I eat perfectly and follow the plan perfectly, then I'll lose the weight.

Why we want to have these perfect plans and the perfect follow through and never ever have a weekend binge and see the scale go up...? 

It's so that we can protect ourselves it's so that we don't have to deal with the emotional experience of failure or disappointment. 

And because this isn't reality.... because it isn't actually realistic to have perfection be a part of our day to day life we run a whole host of actual negative outcomes. 

That's really the intention of this episode. The perfectionism mindset, while it might have been a strategy that worked here and there, also contributes to you having more negative outcomes. And what I would say is over the years, like many of us... we've unconsciously created some of these strategies like programming in the deepest recesses of our brain.

The perfectionism mindset, having the best right answer, the best right path forward, right and wrong has become a [00:10:00] part of your programming at some point.... And it worked well at some point. I would say that many of us have really allowed this type of programming to settle in because at some point some years ago, maybe your best wasn't good enough.

And that rooted you in a feeling of insecurity..... And so the lesson that your child brain came up with was leading you to protect against feeling insecure. It's why you created perfectionist strategies. But here's the thing: one of the reasons that we did this, one of the reasons that led us to protect ourselves from imperfection is because at the same time, we didn't have the skillset or the tools to allow and feel uncomfortable emotions.

And that is what we are challenging here together. That we can learn the skills and have tools to allow and feel uncomfortable emotions because that's just a part of being human.... [00:11:00] and at the same time challenge some of these old mindsets. 

Here's the thing first and foremost, I think that Master Coach Rachel Hart says is brilliantly. So I'm going to quote how she has spoken on this: "This just becomes a part of your subconscious toolbox." So listen, we intellectually know that it's impossible to be perfect or always have perfect results... yet, we still strive for it because it is a part of our subconscious programming. And what we are doing here together on this podcast and, what I really do more deeply inside The Unstoppable Group with my clients is we bring so much more awareness to our subconscious programming.

And then with some safety and compassion, we learn how to debug and unlearn the programming.... and really we do this with an infusion of safety. 

Now why bother with doing all this? Because it sounds like kind of a [00:12:00] lot of work to challenge an old mindset, to really work, to create safety, to feel our uncomfortable emotions.

Like why do any of this? 

What's the problem with just keeping our subconscious programming? Well, what I would first start by saying is if you have no unwanted outcomes, then nothing's wrong with it, keep it. 

But if you find yourself teetering back and forth in overwhelm, procrastinating on what you said you would do... living in the land of all or nothing I would be willing to gander that this mindset might be worth paying attention to. So now we've covered the reason that perfectionism is a strategy that has worked at some point in the past. 

Simply taking your best action wasn't enough. 

And because it didn't feel safe to show up imperfectly because you didn't have the skills or tools to feel uncomfortable emotions, your brilliant brain created a strategy.

To strive for [00:13:00] perfection.

But what this does and what really keeping the perfectionism mindset really does is we end up either not showing up at all.... We don't bother trying, or maybe we show up halfway at the surface level, but we don't really go all in. Or we go in and then we hit a road bump or have so much pressure that we then have to find ways to distract ourselves or procrastinate into something else.

And listen, in some ways, not showing up at all or not trying or doing something halfway or starting and stopping and procrastinating.... we think works. But what it really does, if you really take a solid inventory of what this mindset creates is more negative outcomes. 

It's guaranteeing that our goals are never realized. 

And the trouble is that we keep believing the mistruth that we have to do it perfectly to create more of what we want. Rather than letting yourself, befriending yourself in the imperfection of it, because that is the path forward to getting more of [00:14:00] what you want in your life. Your weight loss goals, that promotion bettering your relationships... embracing the imperfection is the permission slip we need to show up and take more action. 

Now I get it because I think that we are often, and I know I am absolutely guilty of this--- so unwilling to want to go out there and try, because we might fail. 

We might feel embarrassment or disappointment or frustration or shame... and here's what is so good to know that that is all that we are actually trying to avoid.

An emotional experience. 

And what we are doing together here is we get to just become aware of it and label it and know that that is the reason that we have avoided going all in and taking massive action. It's because we wanted to avoid the emotional experience of imperfection. 

Here's why this really matters to me even more as a mom.

This is something that I want to teach my [00:15:00] children. And I know that sometimes I'm fighting against the grain because you hear about perfectionism and perfect scores and perfect grades and being the perfect kid in stories in schools, at kids' play dates, and with the other moms, I think it's something that is all over our society, but I'm willing to fight against the grain on this.

I want to teach them that they never ever, ever have to hide from embarrassment, disappointment, frustration, or shame ever. 

And really that all we get to do is to think about the controllables that we have in our life, showing up with the information we have, taking our best action and then befriending ourselves in the experience-- in the embarrassment in the disappointment, even in the shame. 

And what if we could learn this as a skill? 

Because taking massive leaps forward, trying anyway, knowing that we might fall and fail sometimes is how we can go out and create more successes, create [00:16:00] more of what we want in our life. 

What if having our own backs, no matter what, in the wins and falls, even when it feels terrible is something that would actually create more of the life we want.

That is what I want to teach them.... and I think that one of my biggest lessons over the last few years is that before I can teach them, I get to go first. I mean, this is like honest, real talk. 

Me coming on here and even having this podcast and sharing this episode with you is such an example of this. I share this because my experiences and what I share with you on this podcast every week, it sometimes comes through the lens of me being a mom, sometimes it comes through my experience as an OB GYN physician.... sometimes it's through my perspective as a coach and every time that I'm sharing my thoughts, my perspectives, even the tools that I have created is really a little piece of my mind, my heart, my soul, flying through the podcast universe and into your ears, [00:17:00] which I'm incredibly grateful for.

But also at the same time, I would be lying if I said that I didn't want it to be perfect.

I mean, I would just say, I have had to really tap into some personal self coaching practices to allow imperfection here, but you're all listening and it's because I care about you and your thoughts. For me, a lot of my work has been, has been for me to create safety and security for me to show up and share my message-- in sharing what I know works for weight loss for working moms.

Despite knowing that someone out there in the podcast universe might disagree. 

Yet here I am. Practicing imperfection on a weekly basis. 

Why? Because it moves the needle forward. It moves the needle forward on something that is deeply important to me, which is helping more women, more working moms live a lighter life with more joy.

I want more of [00:18:00] that.... and so imperfect action, it is. 

I'm telling you that there are so many opportunities and projects that never ever see the light of day, because we are waiting. 

We are holding back. 

We're not going all in. 

We're not making decisions. 

We go back and forth. 

We start and stop because we keep waiting for the perfect time, the perfect day when the kids are perfectly old enough, when I have the perfect workload. 

I know because I have done all of it and I anticipate that you have too. 

We wait on things to become perfect for the perfect conditions, rather than just take messy, imperfect action. And I know it's hard because if you've been hardwired like I have for the clean, beautiful, smooth, perfect road, this doesn't feel easy.... and that's okay. 

It's also really good to remind yourself that perfectionism isn't reality, that perfect clean, beautiful, smooth [00:19:00] road isn't real. And so what if it was true that a working mom's life is going to be messy from time to time. Maybe dare I say a lot of times. And so we could just wait and wait and wait, holding back on making decisions and moving forward towards getting more of what we want. 

Or we could practice taking just one step forward today.

Making one decision today imperfectly and having our own backs, however it goes. 

What if it was possible that we could let our best in this moment with whatever information we do have be enough, starting right now and maybe your best doesn't have to be perfect anymore. It can just be you showing up.

Part of what we are talking about here and part of what I'm introducing you to is really introducing you to the concept of flexibility and bringing in little moments of flexibility [00:20:00] into any old rigid mindsets that you might have. Truly, deep in your bones when you think about introducing flexibility, imagine how it might be your opportunity to grow and create more of what you want.

What we've been talking about in this episode is really an introduction to the perfectionist mindset and how it's such a broad umbrella category, because it doesn't just apply to striving for perfect things and the right answer. It's also avoiding imperfection to avoid an uncomfortable emotional experience.

I want to share with you some of the practices that I have started to fold into my day to day life that I have found incredibly valuable. 

I like to remind myself often, in writing, that sometimes I have a rigid all or nothing mindset. It's just a part of my old subconscious programming.... and just remembering this as a practice has heightened my awareness around my [00:21:00] own subconscious programming-- that I have this tendency and it's okay for me to practice introducing flexibility.

The next thing that I would say has been very valuable for me is for me to know my red flags. And I want you to start to think about what your red flags are. What I have found is when I'm either procrastinating, jumping from task to task, or feeling overwhelmed, these are my little indicator lights.... It's like, "oh, this is me being in the perfectionism mindset.... okay... so good to know." 

The third thing that I have been practicing more of is creating safety and really relaxing my nervous system as a daily reminder. Just reminding myself that I'm okay to take my best action with the information that I have, and I will have my own back, no matter how the experience pans out.

The next thing that I think has made a huge difference for me is to make more decisions in [00:22:00] advance while also practicing constraint. So this means really planning with more efficiency and advance rather than the in- the- moment as you go act of making decisions. Now, I would say that there is an art to planning well and planning efficiently.

I don't want you going down the rabbit hole of planning because that can be another way of procrastinating. I know... but what I want you to think about is something I've shared with you on here before. Our brains want direction and planning in advance with constraint is extremely valuable in giving your brain the direction that she wants.

So for example, if you set aside no time limit or four hours to do something, your brain will take an endless amount of time or the whole four hours to complete your task. If you set aside one hour, you will take one hour. So an example of this for me, like in my real life is I will set a time-- I will make a decision in advance, I will spend one hour on researching this topic and then [00:23:00] I'm going to make my best decision. 

So I've given my brain direction that I'm going to give myself one hour. 

I would say that making decisions in advance is one of those tools that we get to keep playing with and experimenting with. We can sometimes like I've shared on here earlier in the podcast, we can sometimes make so many decisions in advance that it creates more rigidity, but I want you to just pay attention when you find that you're making decisions in advance is actually creating more space for you in the week, it's actually a practice that is going to create more results. 

Lastly, the other thing that I have found to be highly valuable is I will notice and become aware of that moment where I feel the desire for wanting things to be perfect. I'll feel the desire for wanting to find the best strategy, the best plan, the desire to keep searching.

I'll find myself in my indicator light activities. 

And what I get to do is just notice it and catch it with [00:24:00] compassion whenever I'm in. 

For now, what I want you to take away from this episode around perfectionism is that it has been a strategy that has worked in some areas, and it's not just striving for the best answer.... it's also avoiding imperfect action. 

And more often than not, it's likely creating some unwanted outcomes. 

It's holding you back from going all in, it's making you start and stop... and it might even be leading you to overwork to try to outrun or outmaneuver, uncomfortable emotional experiences. All of this keeps us waiting and keeps our results on hold longer.

The solution to this, the solution to our rigid mindset, that all or nothing way of thinking is to introduce more flexibility while creating safety with taking imperfect action and befriending yourself in the emotional experience no matter what happens. 

I would say that when you start to see this as the [00:25:00] next step of your growth, you start to see how you create more of what you want in your life.

There are three questions that I'm going to end this episode with. You can pause or come back to answering these three questions, but I find that when I have answered these three questions, I have gained so much more clarity and awareness around some of my own tendencies. 

The first question is how has perfectionism played a role in holding back your weight loss results?

Question two is how has your perfectionism mindset played a role in you avoiding doing the work of weight loss? So just remember that perfectionism has been a strategy.... and one of the things that it has allowed us to do is it has allowed us to avoid doing work. 

Avoid taking imperfect action. 

So this second question is really to have you explore, how have you been avoiding doing the work of weight loss?

If you find that you've avoided doing any [00:26:00] of the work or you don't have the results that you want, this is such a good question for you to answer. 

And the last question, what would life be like without the perfectionism mindset driving? 

For me, especially when I answered this third question of what would my life be like if perfectionism or the perfectionism mindset, the avoidance of imperfection wasn't driving everything.....?

Honestly, I feel so much more free, less heavy, less serious. 

And I think it's something that we get to remind ourselves on a daily basis. 

I hope today's introduction to the perfectionism mindset, shed some light for you. What we want to practice doing together is to create the feeling of safety and security however, we show up imperfectly being human is really the best strategy forward if we want to show up bigger and create more results. 

And what we are doing here together is befriending [00:27:00] ourselves-- in imperfection so that we start to take more action. 

I hope this was good for you guys, I cannot wait to see you next week and I'll catch you at the next one.

Friends! You have been hearing me talk all about sustainable and simple weight loss and I want to point you to a free video series that I have created just for you. 

It's called The Power Start Weight Loss Guide, which teaches you the most powerful and simple tools inside my Unstoppable process. 

I talk about hunger and satiety often, but I also hear the question, but "how exactly do I do this?"

This series is the answer. 

You're going to get all three videos on one page, and it's going to take you about 30 minutes to get through these videos, which will really take you through the basics and get a feel for how this work works. Once you sign up, you're going to get instant access. 

Plus when you sign up for The Power Start Guide, you're going to get a short series of emails, that is going to guide you through the specific [00:28:00] obstacles that I have experienced and seen my clients experienced. And then we're going to walk through exactly how to overcome them. 

You can get your Power Start Weight Loss Guide over at 

I am so excited for you to bring this into your life and start implementing some of these tools today.

I'll see you next week. 

Thanks for listening to Weight Loss for Unstoppable Moms. It's been an honor spending this time with you and your brilliant brain. If you want more information or resources from the show, visit

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