T Nation

Sick and Tired Over my Obsession for Perfection

I have such an obsession with perfection over what and when I should eat things, and my workouts in f@%$ing general.

If I miss a meal, or the timing of a meal, I get depressed and lose motivation.

If I don’t meet the stupid daily calorie goal, I get depressed and lose motivation.

If I go over the stupid calorie goal, I go insane and work on what I should avoid for the rest of the day like it’s the cure to cancer.

I’m honestly just getting sick of this bodybuilding crap. I’m not even big, but I act as if I’m about to compete for Mr. Olympia next week. But I just can’t quit.

I’m trying to bulk up, but there is just so much damn conflicting information here that it’s driving me to the point of insanity.

Bulking? Try a slow bulk, increase your caloric intake by 200 above maintenance. But wait, it’s hard to calculate that precisely to the sore as a beginner and someone with not a lot of time on their hands, so shoot for 500+. Wait never mind someone else says that you’ll gain too much fat so go back to 200 and measure everything by the proton and electron just in case.

Eat a lot of eggs, but not too many. Time your meals. Have some casein protein before bed. Eat tuna, but not too much due to the mercury content. Nevertheless, here’s internet proof that it really doesn’t matter how much you tuna eat… And here’s more proof that it does matter how much tuna you eat. Going out to eat with your family? Track that as well.

Are you a broke college student just trying to look really, really good? Good. Use 80% of your budget on food. Lots of it. Also make a trip to the grocery store every 3-4 days. I hope you can still afford that gym membership.

Keep track of how you look as well. Your mirror is the best scale you have, but use the bathroom scale just in case. Weigh yourself every single day and record it. Wait, forget it, do it every week, but also every day, and have a scale strapped to the bottom of your shoes so you can be as accurate as possible.

I’m not sure if this post fits, but I just need all the help I can get. It’s killing me, and I could use some advice from you guys since everyone here but me has already gotten their s$#@ together. Thanks.

1 Like

I am in a rush right now but I’ll likely reply this week. This post hits home with me.

Welcome to the disease. :grinning:


I would suggest a coach and a therapist. Don’t try to take this on alone.


Yeah,… it can be crazy overwhelming… I remember the days when I was soooo damn serious, and thought if I wasn;'t as hardcore as whoever was on the cover of Flex Magazine that month that it would be the missing brick in the muscular wall I was hoping to build… and yes, I wasn’t especially big, or ripped at the time either… it took years of consistency and eventually backing away in terms of my myopic view of what needed to always be done for me to suddenly realize that I had achieved something pretty respectable,… when I allowed myself to enjoy the process and let it FIT WITHIN the rest of my life, not ruin it.

I’m sure this will be a good thread.



I’m glad I found in interest in moving more weight as opposed to perfecting my body. I’ve grown to the point i have almost zero interest in bodybuilding, but damn do I respect the trade. It requires an unparalleled amount of focus, drive, discipline, and perfection, 24 hours a day. As opposed to just meeting caloric and protein minimums, while only taking 100% of my focus for about 1 1/2 hours a day.

For what it’s worth, the people on here that “have their shit together” consist of, from what I can tell, about… MAYBE 15 active posters. Assuming they’re completely truthful. The rest of us are just bouncing ideas around and learning constantly. Always remember, people are really good at sounding like they have a doctorate online. Just take everything with a grain of salt, listen to your body, and always be open to new ideas.

Good luck on the journey dude, hope you figure it out.


Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Perfectionism is almost always a self-destructive disposition.


These replies are great. I’ll be counting calories and protein intake, I guess. I’ll leave out my carbs and fats until I move out since my hobby annoys the parents. I look forward to your feedback @BrickHead

This my advice man. You don’t need to be perfect. I would honestly just simplify your approach.

  1. Pick a program
  2. Eat 3 meals a day. Each meal have a protein, carbs, veggies/fruit, and some fat.
  3. Run or play sport twice a week.
  4. Do this for one WHOLE year without missing a single day.

Get offline and come back with the results one year from now. I think you’ll be shocked. As LONG as the numbers in the gym are going up and you are eating healthy you will be just fine man.

This is coming from someone who literally tried to be “perfect” for 3 years. Once I decided not to be perfect but just work, my life changed drastically.


I remember I spent two years trying to create “the perfect workout” that exercised and accomplished everything, overloading on training articles and never satisfied. Then I read, “Keep it simple, stupid,” in an article on this website, and realized no work out will do everything, so I needed specific goals. My first specific goal was bench + squat + dead lift = 1000 pounds. I made it. Then my doctor told me that my A1C level was 6.3 and she wanted it to be 5.8, but if it went over 6.5 she would put me on meds so I didn’t get to 7 (the start of diabetes). 5.8 became my goal with a dietary focus; in three years I lost 50 pounds and my A1C is 5.6. Now my goal is to overhead press my own body weight.


There were periods of time in my twenties in which people probably thought that I was treating my bodybuilding hobby as if may livelihood depended on it, when meanwhile, I didn’t even have a goal of entering a contest any time soon, nor did I even know if there would be an appropriate time to enter one. It wasn’t until I was 37 years old that I participated in one. I have my contest preparation log on here from over two years back. At 37 years old, I was in a far better position in life to take on such a serious hobby because I was married (no kid yet then), had a great social life, and had finally shaken off the debilitating depression that I suffered from, on and off, from much of my life.

Obviously this threat is not about me and I don’t know about details of your life, but I am sharing this with you, because if you take this endeavor to such an all-consuming degree and don’t have much else going on outside of work, and perhaps one day realize it has not given the results or rewards you thought it can give you, you might very well just drop it altogether!

That is exactly happened to me in my twenties and as a result I stopped lifting for over a year. I took up bodybuilding so seriously, built a decent physique with a lot of muscle for my frame, and what did I have to show for the highly restrictive lifestyle I was imposing on my myself? Nothing. I didn’t have one thing in my life that was a result of my bodybuilding. I was single, womanless, and seldom had stuff to do. Beware that this obsession can very well do that to someone. I am not saying this to you to discourage you, but only to let you know that the sort of perfection you speak of here can very well lead someone to being socially ostracized, as you can see from your mention of going out to eat with family members. Picture that sort of rigidness with a woman or friends who simply want to have a good time with you and the expectation of shelling out 80% of your dorm-life budget on food.

I can go on for some time about why I took up bodybuilding, and looking back, for much of the time I did it, it was not the best thing for me. For the remainder of the time, it was for me, and I had a blast with it. I made friends, attended different events, bumped into different people.

I don’t want to turn this thread around on me, but your initial post hit home with me, and I just want you to think of what is driving your obsession and neuroticism considering you have no ambition or perhaps no ability to compete at a high level of bodybuilding. Why do you want such a great physique? Clearly you are trying to be perfect to insure that you will get predictable results, right? What wrong will happen if you get mediocre results and just attain what many would call a “nice body”.

Additionally, at this point of my life, with the reflection I have done on myself, with a son, and another child on the way (goal is three kids), I have developed great empathy for the younger guys and their experience in the modern day.

I will continue tomorrow with responses to your other paragraphs when I can during the week, hopefully tomorrow. But


Stop reading! I used to read every article posted here and the conflicting information drove me nuts. It’s not that I don’t like disagreements. It’s that I am a little bit like you - always looking for the perfect or heaven forbid, optimal, program and nutrition practices.

The simple reality is that hard work and consistency trump all. Try to get enough protein and overall calories and just put your head down and work for the next six months.

If you want to see someone who doesn’t know which direction to go then check out my log. I’ve gained and lost 30 lbs on purpose since December 2017. I’m hoping to stick with my current goals and plan for the next year.


Actually this brings up a good point. I struggled with this a bit too. Although it was more… did I want physical perfection, or did I want to move a shit ton of weight. I chose the latter. I still care how I look, anyone who says otherwise is a fucking liar… but I like lifting heavy shit. So after piddling around and reading too much, it came down to, I like the way Jim Wendler looks, aesthetically. Big as shit. Strong as shit. No bullshit. And he just moves heavy weight
So I objectively forced myself to view his training in a dogmatic fashion. Talking with anyone, I’m pretty open about training styles, and im down for whatever anyone wants to do, and I’m always open to learning. But when it comes to my training, I view Jim Wendlers word as the only truth. I know it’s not, but it keeps me focused.

Basically my point being, OP. Find a coach that you like. Someone you want to look like, someone who’s training you can relate to, and ONLY focus on them for the next… year? 2 years? You’re body will greatly benefit from it, and by the end of it, you should understand your body a lot better, and start processing multiple angles of training with a calm objective view, without getting worked up.


Wendler is straight forward with everything he says and he’s always “no bullshit”. I’m on his BBB program and it’s good. I should stick with him from now on. This is super helpful. Thank you.


I used to receive compliments once in every blue moon after high school. People liked me for how I looked and it just stopped all of a sudden. Did my looks deteriorate? Is it the hair loss?

I hate the notion of “peaking” in your life, but I feel like that’s what happened for me in high school. It’s like my looks “peaked” in high school and I took zero advantage with it. I feel like I wasted my high school years.

I started working out and I get barraged with compliments from people who didn’t notice me. They liked how I worked out, so now I’m here thinking that maybe if I just work insanely hard on my body, it would get better? I don’t know. It wasn’t like this before. I started seeing progress when I kind of watched what I eat and now I just go crazy hoping I could exponentially grow my body. I’m getting too personal, but what you said makes too much sense. Thank you for that.

1 Like

Hang in there.

There is a lot of information and at the start it’s hard to figure out which bits are relevant to you NOW. Don’t sweat it. Embrace the fact that you will fuck up here and there; as long as you remember what you fucked up and why all it will do is help you learn.

You like Jim’s work and his ideas. Great. Buy into the system 100%. For the moment, ignore what ANYONE else says and treat Jim’s word as gospel. Will it do everything you hope? Maybe, maybe not. But after a while you’ll know which bits of Jim’s system gives you results you like, and which don’t. Major win. That’s knowledge you’ll carry forward.


What peak means is entirely up to you. Ensuring you didn’t peak in high school is also entirely up to you. If you base “peaking” on compliments you receive you are going to be in for a bad time, just like you would be for anything based on something entirely out of your control.

You can receive a compliment purely because the person giving it just wants one in return or is trying to get something out of you FFS. Why would you see any stock in that?


Not to mention, I hope OP is ready to receive complements almost exclusively from the same sex lol. In my experience, women as a general rule, tend to not care a whole lot past high school.


I’m glad I made this mistake when I was a distance runner. Competed from around age 12-23. Took it waaay too seriously, it became a defining part of my personality, and I came to dislike it.

Don’t be afraid to try things. +200 cals for bulk, +500. Try and learn, see what happens. You’ll have decades (hopefully) the continue to train and see what works so worrying about doing something less than perfect over a 3 month span is silly. As long as you stick to something and see how it works and learn from the experience you’ll keep moving forward


Excellent OP and equally compelling thread.

I suppose the ultimate goal is to become a ‘lifting philosopher’. Someone like Dan John is probably a good example: lifting is damn important but other things are far more so.

This is easier, of course, as you become more mature. I am mindful of how I’ve looked in the past and how, if I really put my mind to it and all the pieces fall into place, blah, blah, I could do again. As time ticks by, this seems more like wishful thinking. However, I’m enjoying my lifting routine, I’m trying new dietary strategies and generally feeling enthusiasm for what I do. This trumps the frustration part every time.

It’s about finding your place. If the obsessive lifestyle drives you then you may need to go with it as that’s your goal, for now.

1 Like

Why is a flurry of compliments so important for you? I don’t work out or look like I used to but I still get compliments. They’re flattering, but I don’t crave them like I once did.