Why An All Or Nothing Attitude Could be Sabotaging Your Weight Loss
Because I want it all or nothing at all..O-Town
I am an all or nothing type of person. And I married another all or nothing type of person. And then we created our very own all or nothing type of person. Needless to say, the Funderburks can get a little intense and high strung. But, we’re working on it.
Fun fact (or anxiety-induced fact): having an all or nothing attitude is actually linked to cognitive distortions.
Those who think in all or nothing terms tend to rely solely on absolutes; never or always. Being either the best, or a total failure. All or nothing thinking is often seen in those who suffer from anxiety, eating disorders, and borderline personality disorder.
I’ve already told you I have two of those, so.. the connection is real.
But having an all or nothing attitude isn’t just limited to those of us with anxiety. All too often, I see this type of mindset come up with my nutrition and personal training clients. People get into the habit of thinking they either need to be ALL on, or ALL off. Never in between. And I hate to break it to you, but balance (and happiness) lives in the in-between.
What is an all or nothing attitude?
When someone has an all or nothing attitude or mindset, they’re seeing things only in absolutes. Their vocabulary is limited to words like “always,” or “never,” and void of terms like “maybe,” or “sometimes.”
Okay great, Natasha that’s vague; what does that truly mean?
It means not being able to enjoy a piece of birthday cake because you’re “dieting.”
It means not taking a rest day because you’re currently laser focused on your workout routine.
It means eating the birthday cake, ice cream, and then going out for pizza because you went ahead and ate the piece of birthday cake so the rest of your day is “screwed anyway.”
It means taking a week off from working out because you took one day off.
See the pattern here?
When we have an all or nothing attitude, we set ourselves for failure from day. Because we expect ourselves to be perfect, which is impossible. Or we expect that we’re going to fail, so we don’t even begin.
We end up making the process so restrictive that it often becomes unrealistic and impossible to stick to. So, feeling defeated, we quit with the belief that we aren’t capable, or that it’s too difficult, and we go back to wishing instead of doing.
And back to waiting for later to start.
We wait for next Monday. Next month. Next year.
We have this nasty habit of making our goals too big. We think of ALL THE THINGS we think we have to do, or ALL THE THINGS we think we have to give up in order to achieve our goal, and we convince ourselves that success can’t possibly be found in the middle.
And before you know it, this entire thing has become this impossible, unsustainable event.
We restrict ourselves and think that we have to hit our macros perfectly from day one, that we can’t miss a workout, can’t sneak a french fry off our son’s dinner plate, can’t enjoy a date night or a piece of cake without throwing all caution to the wind, and we make it so dang rigid that it becomes an unenjoyable chore that we are destined to slip. And when we do, we fall hard. And we don’t get back up.
Instead of doing that, we should be making our goals easy and small – so easy that we have a hard time failing. And if we do fail, we should give ourselves grace, allow us to have that moment of imperfection, and then just get right back on plan. It truly is as simple as that.
But you also have to allow yourself to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. If this is the first time you’ve ever worked out or tracked your macros, or done anything to make yourself feel happier and healthier – it can feel confusing in the beginning. It may seem overwhelming.
You will not get it right 100% of the time every single day, and thinking that you can, that you will, and that it will be sustainable long-term, is already setting yourself up for failure.
But allowing yourself to fail is the fun part – because you’ll be able to look back on everything you’ve done and see how far you’ve truly come, and all the things you’ve learned along the way.
So.. instead of going all in and giving it everything you’ve got, only to eventually fall off the wagon and never climb back on again, do this:
- Find the balance: enjoy the slice of birthday cake but commit to getting back on track with your next meal. Schedule a rest day, but also hit your desired number of workouts each week.
- Make small, easy to achieve goals and celebrate the heck out of them each time you reach one
- Practice progress, not perfection. Forgive yourself when you do slip. Give yourself grace, and then move on.
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