Perhaps like me, you’ve said something like this:
“Well, I’ve blown my diet today, so I may as well give up and start again next week.”
“If I can’t perfectly stick with my food plan, what’s the point?”
“Diets are too restrictive – You can’t follow them forever, so why try?”
Any feel familiar? These are examples of “All or Nothing” thinking, and it’s a TRAP. It’s unconscious self-sabotage. You’ve set the bar to perfection or nothing.
I can’t do perfection. Can you? We’re not really wired that way. We’re more likely to want to push the boundaries and see what we CAN do than to truly want the restrictive perfection.
Mr. Jones and I were at a beach near a rocky point when the tide was out. I wanted to see how far out we could get. As I crawled over the rocks and boulders toward the point, he went with me for a while and then stopped and kept watch. He said later he knew he was near enough to shore to get help if I fell in. There’s something odd that happens when I’m focused on a goal: I just want to see if I can get there. I may fall in, or I might end up with bruises or sore muscles, but I want to try.
With nutrition, we want to see if we can still shed some weight while eating what we want. Chemistry is chemistry, so It sometimes works for us and sometimes doesn’t. When it doesn’t, we feel as if we have failed rather than viewing it as learning.
If then we abandon it because we can’t be perfect, we’re ensuring failure. The thing is, those missteps, errors, and choices – that’s just “life.” Parties, family dinners, surprise gifts of your favorite food will happen. So make the best choices, and make adjustments with our next meal or get back on track the next day. One feast day does not a diet break. See, it’s not the diversion that causes the real issue – it’s that “All or Nothing” than ends in giving up. Were we to dust ourselves off and try again, we’d be back on track to our goal.
I like to compare this with other areas of life. What would happen if you gave up on your budget with spending? Maybe you’ve had a bit of a splurge or some unexpected expenses, so the next week or month, you probably adjust what you buy to compensate and stay in good financial health.
We handle our physical health differently, abandoning our goal too easily. All or Nothing thinking is a trap because it gives us an out when we get tired, fed up, or too hungry because our nutrition plan doesn’t meet our needs. It’s not your fault really – it’s how we’re trained in “Diet Culture.” My mother did it, my grandmother, her mother before her. Yet there are clear solutions that will make it easier, more effective, and that will get you where you want to be.
Think of your goal and what it will l be like when you arrive – and get to stay there.
Want to see how far you can go?