You may recall that I briefly mentioned how having the all or nothing mindset can actually be one of the reasons your diet fails or that gets in the way of reaching your goals in any aspect of your life. This all or nothing attitude can negatively affect every aspect of your life, but we are focusing solely on health and wellness for the purpose of this discussion. Keep in mind that this mindset isn’t all bad, but we are just going to focus on the drawbacks of this mindset and why it gets in the way of you reaching your health and wellness goals. So, let’s dig in.
Let’s begin with quickly defining what having the all or nothing mindset actually means. With the all or nothing mindset you view things in the extremes. You view things or situations are only seen as black or white. So, how does this sabotage your weight loss or health and wellness goals you may be asking? Well, it’s actually quite simple when you think about it. With all or nothing there is no middle ground. You have what you would consider one slip up in your diet over the course of the day and you just throw in the towel for the remainder of the day and say to yourself, “I will get back on the horse tomorrow.” Or you skip your planned gym day so you skip the rest of the week and plan to start fresh next week. Does this sound like you? You are not alone. This mindset and attitude are very common and that is why this mindset is one of the reasons standing in your way of reaching your goals. How can you create a shift in your mindset and turn this all or nothing attitude around? I am going to provide three easy ways to do just that.
The first is to make the best decisions you can most of the time. I would say this is where the 80/20 rule comes into play. This is where you are on point at least 80% of the time and you allow yourself some wiggle room the other 20% of the time. So often we are quick to go all in and think we have to eliminate foods from our diet to see results. This level of restriction just isn’t sustainable and that is more often than not what does people in. Labeling foods as good or bad and thinking those bad foods are what is causing your weight gain, so you go to the extremes we just talked about and just all out completely eliminate them. I am here to say that this way of thinking is not necessary or healthy for that matter. This can affect your emotion and mindset around food which will not be emotionally healthy in the long run. Rather than going all in and eliminating foods from your diet, realize that allowing yourself to enjoy the foods you love in moderation once or twice a week isn’t going to ruin all your progress and set you up for failure. The key is moderation not deprivation. Contrary to what you may think, if you allow yourself to eat something that is not exactly according to plan or you give yourself extra time off from the gym, you will find that you are more likely to have success meeting your goals.
The second way to shift your mindset is to just change one thing at a time. Too often, again with this all or nothing attitude and thinking in extremes, we try to dive into change head first and try to tackle everything all at once. This is already starting you off on the wrong food and setting you up for disaster. “People armed with their New Year’s resolutions often try to make too many changes all at once and then not follow through on all (or any) of them,” says Shane McLean with Balance Guy Training. “Instead, make one change at a time and then make it a habit. When you have that nailed down, move on to crush the next habit.” For example, if you weren’t a gym goer before and now want to start exercising to live a healthier lifestyle, start out going three times a week before making drastic dietary changes or any other habit changes. Once you are consistently exercising three time a week and are confident and comfortable with that routine then dig in and make dietary changes. Slowly incorporate habits to add or change. Once one thing become a consistent habit and lifestyle change then move on to the next and keep doing this until you are where you want to be. Slow and steady. Diving in head first and going all in will become too overwhelming and rather than giving up one thing to make things less overwhelming, you will likely give it all up and quit. To avoid this, change one thing at a time and don’t be in such a rush to get to where you want to be. Success happens over time and it takes lots of work and persistence.
Finally, and probably my favorite is to stop starting over. This is a common theme and issue I see and hear all the time. I myself even struggled with this very thing when I was on my own weight loss journey. According to JESSPARKLE on Spark People, “I swear I start a new diet every day. I can’t even get through 24 hours without having a slip-up. I’ve been trying to lose weight for over five years and I just keep gaining more and more. I just can’t stay motivated or stick to any program.” I am sure if you are reading this you can relate to her struggle! With this all or nothing mindset, every “mistake” you make in your plan you think of as a failure. Rather than looking at this as a bump in the road and something to learn from, you start back at square one. Take these moments and learn from them and try to improve the next meal or the next bite of food you take. No one is perfect and no one is expecting or asking you to be. Losing weight is not easy and no one is staying it is. When you feel you have a slip up, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back at it. Don’t keep starting over. There will always be that temptation to eat whatever you want and think to yourself you will just start again tomorrow. But that is not the mindset or lifestyle habit you want. So, stop starting over!
This all or nothing mindset is something only you can control and change. Only you and you alone can control how you feel and what you think about your diet and exercise plan. With small changes at a time and an open mind, you will be able to celebrate the small wins, forgive yourself for your slipups and view those setbacks and bumps in the road as your personal journey to successfully reaching your goals.