When I became a mom I quickly realized my need for perfection. I was working from home with a newborn, and drowning in the stress of being all things to all people, and doing it all perfectly. I needed the house to be perfectly clean before my husband came home. I needed to have a perfectly cooked dinner for us as a family. I needed to be the perfect mother doing all the “right” things (by definition of random blogs I would read while breastfeeding at 3am). I needed to provide perfect service for my clients, even if it meant creating and sending out an email newsletter the day I came home from the hospital after having a baby. It ALL had to be done perfectly or I was a failure.
Add that stress to the mounting unease of feeling uncomfortable in my own body. I had gained a little over 30 pounds during my pregnancy, but I gained at least 10 pre-pregnancy from just sitting all day working and sitting all night on the couch eating chips and ice cream. Post-baby I did not feel good, I had zero energy, I hated the way my clothes fit, and those last 10 pounds seemed like they were going to stay with me for life.
I cried a lot during that time — I’m pretty sure my husband was terrified of me because anything he said might trigger waterworks. Turns out, I started to realize that I couldn’t have the perfect house, be the perfect mother, provide perfect service to my clients and cook a perfect dinner every day and magically also wake up with a perfect body.
Enter fitness. A friend asked me to do a program called T25. Desperate for anything to make my life more … eh, well, perfect… I jumped right in. Here I was thinking I was going to get abs and a toned booty and this would solve my problems…looking back, I had no idea what starting that one program would really do for me.
It started with 25 minutes per day in my living room while my son was in his swing or sleeping. The fact that I could get in a super intense workout and still shower before he woke up was amazing.
And the days went on, 25 minutes per day…and in those 25 minutes I didn’t realize I was falling in love with fitness, and I was falling out of obsession with perfection. I did lose that baby weight…and then I lose 10 more pounds. But the BEST part was that the weight didn’t matter anymore, because I already FELT so much different that I learned to love myself along the way, no matter what my body looks like.
I started to learn things about myself through fitness — during the times where I pushed really hard & challenged myself, and during the times when I was able to think very clearly while working out — and I realized where my need for perfection started.
This is hard to admit, but my obsession with doing everything perfectly started as far back as I could remember, when I was a small child — just old enough to realize that my mother was depressed.
My mother and her siblings had an amazingly horrible childhood, suffering through continual abuse at the hands of her own father. Before I was born my aunt and grandmother had already taken their own lives, and when I was around 9 years old my uncle followed in the same heartbreaking pattern.
I don’t think I need to explain the amount of trauma my mother experienced, but I also want to be careful not to make this about blaming my mother for my own issues — I understand why she was depressed, anyone would after what she went through, and I now believe she did the best she could as a mother fighting those demons in her mind every day.
But as a child, I couldn’t see that. I just saw that my mom didn’t want to get out of bed, and I just saw that my mom was having suicidal thoughts, and I just saw that my mom was in a mental facility because she no longer wanted to live. All I could see at that time was a mother who was horribly unhappy, to the point she sometimes did not want to live any longer — and I was never enough reason to change that.
So I decided from a very young age that if I could do everything perfectly — get good grades, do everything I was asked, never say anything wrong that could hurt her feelings or set her off — if I could be the ideal child then if nothing else, then I wouldn’t be the reason she decided to finally do it.
For so long all I thought about was if today was going to be the day. I used to walk really slowly down our long driveway getting off the bus in Rocky Gap, VA…because I was always worried about what we would find and I selfishly didn’t want to be the one to go first.
So there it is — I “said” it. I realized why or where my perfectionism started. Where I started becoming panicked and devastated if anyone else was ever upset by anything I did or didn’t do. Anyone could do anything to me, but as long as I didn’t do anything back to upset them I could live with it.
But I started to change, in 25 minutes per day, fighting through my workouts and thinking about my tendencies and what I really wanted for my life. It’s a slow process, but I believe we can change our lifelong habits if we are truly self-aware.
Through the simple change of exercising every single day, everything changed for me — I was able to let go of the idea of having a perfectly clean house all of the time, and making dinner every night, and being everything for everyone all the time. I just became happy. And I realized that having a mess and being imperfect is actually a way better way to live. Don’t get me wrong, I’m about to go clean up the house after I write this, but I guarantee you I’ll be working out FIRST, because my priorities have changed.
Your family doesn’t care if you have a perfectly clean house and a delicious dinner if they have to live and eat with a miserable person.
From starting that very first program, T25, 4 years ago — I fell in love with fitness, I learned that taking care of me and making sure I am the happiest wife & mother I can be is a way better service to my family then a clean house and a gourmet meal. And THEN, after a few years of falling in love with fitness myself I decided to pay it forward and make fitness my business — focusing on the INTERNAL change that comes along with working towards our less important physical goals. Don’t get me wrong, health is important to me and I understand the desire to have abs and a toned booty — I get it. But my goal is to help women reach those goals and find the most amazing internal change on the way there. Because that, that is what really matters in this life. If you are truly unhappy on the inside, abs aren’t going to change things for you.
Unfortunately, my mother lost her battle with her trauma, the demons she had fought her entire life, and the depression and PTSD that followed. On April 14, 2017 my mother took her own life.
It hasn’t even been a month and I am writing this. I was in the process of building this website when it happened, and I know that she would want me to share my story, her story, in hopes that it could help someone else. She was proud of my passion for helping women, and she also encouraged me to let go of trying to do everything perfectly. We never really talked about it, but a couple of years ago she gave me a framed piece of art for Christmas that simply says “Let it be Imperfect”.
So, my friends, that is what I am doing. I am embracing a positively imperfect life, a happy life, a life where it’s more important to make a mess with my kids in the floor and laugh then it is to have a clean house, a life where dinner may be late because I had to get my workout in, a life where I still try to do my best in everything I do, but I give myself grace to be imperfect.
I founded the The Moxie Crew a year ago. We are a team of women who I believe are world-changers. We are passionate about what fitness has done for our lives, and we are driven to help other women find that change. We have been on the struggle buses of so many different issues, we are all different yet all have more in common than we think. We have chosen to live our lives in a way that we are constantly learning & bettering ourselves, and sharing our journeys to inspire others. We have chosen to become online health & fitness coaches as an avenue to embrace women everywhere, invite them into our sisterhood, and help them find the same amazing changes we have through these amazing fitness programs that we use. And then when those women are ready to create their own fitness business, to change their lives financially and pay it forward, we empower and equip them to do so.
We all have a story to our lives, things we can and cannot control. My hope is to take the parts of my story that I could not control, and use it as fuel to create more positive change. We need more happy, truly happy, women & mothers in this world. We are showing our children how to live by what we do, and I will fight every day to show my children that they perfection is over-rated, but fighting for your dreams & your own happiness never is.
Hi, I’m Jessica! I am wife to Chris, and mom to Kaiper, Alana and our silver lab pup, Maui. We are expecting baby #3 right now, and excited to become a family of 5! I am a freelance website & blog developer, Co-Founder of Moxie Girl Fit Club, and aspiring author. I share about everything from parenting, how to make money from home, tutorials for my fellow bloggers, fitness and being a new homeschool family. Learn more about me here.