Yes, that sounds good, I’ll take some nothing too!
We’ve all been there, we’ve all experienced the “all or nothing” mindset that causes us to give up, feel like a failure, and get trapped in a cycle where we are constantly starting over every Monday morning. We set high unrealistic goals and if we don’t hit them 100% we get frustrated, and think what’s the point?
We know the scenario well. Monday morning’s here and you are ready to crush your week, and good thing, because the weekend got away from you, again. You had full intentions of making it to the gym five times last week, start day 1 of “enter newest fad diet just released here”, and to never eat pizza again. But that didn’t happen so you think “I failed”.
First few days are going great, you’re in the groove now, but oops, the boss calls a meeting or kids get sick or a friend is having a crisis and the gym has to wait. Okay, no biggie. Now it’s Friday night and the usual is going down and you are using all the willpower you can muster up to not eat the pizza sitting right in front of you. Feeling defeated, the whole I’m going to be perfect this weekend goal goes out the window.
The idea that in order to hit our goals or be healthy we need to be 100% perfect all day all week otherwise we failed is an aspect of a negative thinking pattern.
The all or nothing thinking pattern can cause the inability to see alternatives in a situation or solutions to a problem. Everything has to be perfect or else it’s a failure. People who get stuck in this type of thinking think in absolute terms such as never, from now on, every, always, and if it can’t happen or our willpower runs out then we simply choose to do NOTHING.
Daycare gets messed up and can’t go to gym, ok I’ll just sit on the couch then. Eat a cupcake at a party…….I messed up my diet, I’ll just go ahead and eat ALL the things here. Work meeting ran late, I can’t make my exercise class, I’ll just go home instead.
We can’t move past the negative event happening so we do NOTHING. Our brain gets stuck because we don’t have a back up plan.
So here’s the really cool part!! We can retrain our brain. Fiddle with our thought patterns and habits. Create habits and a mindset that immediately looks for a solution (a growth mindset) vs. being stuck in the negative (a fixed mindset).
Top 6 Ways To Break The All or Nothing Mindset:
1.) Know that you will mess up and that’s okay.
We are not perfect, and how extremely boring if we all were. Stop waiting for the perfect day, the perfect week, your kids to be at the perfect age, work to be perfectly not stressful because it’s not going to happen. Take each day, set goals and try to better than you were yesterday, but if it doesn’t happen, it’s okay. You have tomorrow to try again. The main thing is get right back after it, don’t wait until Monday, start back up at your very next meal or moment you can work on your current goals.
2.) Avoid extreme terms like never, always, only, nothing.
“I’m never going to eat pizza again.” Come on really?!!!! Never? That’s kind of silly. Why would you put that stress on yourself. Rather, give yourself a more reasonable healthy goal: I’m going to eat a salad full of vegetables before the pizza. That way I hopefully only have 1-2 slices vs the 3-5 I normally eat. Making small changes to your lifestyle creates better adherence and likelihood that the new changes will stick. Over time you may start to love the salad and not even miss the pizza, but to say you’ll never eat pizza again justs sets you up for failure.
3.) Dial in your goals.
What is it you really want and what lifestyle will make you the happiest. Get a health coach or mentor to help you do this. Are you a competitive high level athlete? Or are you someone who wants to feel good, enjoy fun activity and exercise and look good naked? Do you need to be perfect all week and extremely strict with your daily dietary intake and exercise programs? Does your behavior match your goals? Is it necessary to set a goal of getting to the gym 6x a week and spending 2 hours there? Or would you be happier with 3x a week for an hour at the gym and 2 days of running or swimming. Is it necessary to cut out all sugar? Or is that just something you saw a fitness model on IG doing? Create appropriate behaviors for your own personal goals.
4.) Food does not define you as a good person or a bad person.
Can I repeat that – the food you eat does not make you a good or bad individual. Food has consequences, of course, but I’m not a bad person because I choose to eat a cupcake at a party and my friend is not a better person than me because she choose to eat an apple. You can eat the cupcake and still like yourself!!
5.) Look forward to your setbacks.
Yep you heard me right, welcome failure. Become friends with it. It’s your greatest opportunity to learn and grow. At this particular time in our country it is not the easiest to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It takes work, patience, consistency, and a growth mindset. This is your chance to retrain your brain to look for solutions in the face of challenges and stay positive on your journey.
6.) There is no one perfect way!
I saved the best for last. We are all unique individuals living our own created path. There is no perfect diet, training program, form of exercise or activity, situation, or week for all of us. Allow for some wiggle room. This is your journey so live one that makes you happy. If you hate it, you won’t stay consistent with it. If it’s impossible to consistently meet or reach, that’s when the “nothing” happens. Don’t seek perfection, seek better than yesterday. Find an individualized program that fits you best and is designed for your specific goals.
So, what’s next and where do you go from here?
The best place to start (if not hiring a health coach) is to journal. Write about your day, the foods you ate, the activity you did for the day, your sleep, water, everything. Look for areas where you could have been a little better or had a more positive outlook or could have found an alternative solution. Begin to shift your mindset from a negative fixed one to a positive growth mindset.
Start making lists: additional activities for when you can’t make class or your programming, healthier food/drink options, options for wiggle room during your week so you don’t feel deprived with the need to go overboard on the weekends. Prepare and plan for upsets because they will happen. Train your willpower muscle and work on your habits!!
Check out The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This book changed my entire outlook on nutrition and how to approach it.
And lastly, seek support. Who’s your squad? Who keeps you accountable? Do they support your goals and do you help each other not only achieve but exceed them?
“Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records” William Arthur Ward
Go out and break some of your records today. And that could mean you drink 8 more ounces of water than you did yesterday, got 1 more hour of sleep, ate 1 more cup of vegetables. It might not be perfect but it’s progress.
This is a guest post by Courtney Sturgeon. Courtney is a health coach specializing in nutrition and positive long-term lifestyle changes. After graduating from Oklahoma State University in 2001, she and her husband moved to the PNW where they currently live with their 2 children. While taking some time off from working as a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant to raise her children, she discovered her true passion and calling in the field of health and nutrition. She achieved her Level 1 Certification from Precision Nutrition in 2018. She is currently continuing further education, coaching clients, and expanding her reach those eager to learn through various social media outlets. You can reach her at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram @nextlevelhealth_courtney.