Getting Over the "All or Nothing" Mindset

By Kara Simpson, Trainer and Health Coach at Milestone Fitness

If you view your diet as an all or nothing process, often find yourself saying you’ll be better on Monday, frequently say “If I have one I might as well have another and another..” then you may fall under the all or nothing mindset. This mindset is very common when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle for many people. These thoughts can sabotage your diet or mindset and although we don’t want to dwell on every slip up, our actions can either take us further or closer to our goals. Here are some simple steps below that you can take to gradually get away from the all or nothing mindset.


1-      Tackle easy, small actions. If following a goal of a perfect meal is too hard for you every meal, then just do 1 meal. Commit to one meal per day. Once you get good at that then increase it to 2. If you are too ambitious and plan for every meal, every day, you may find yourself overwhelmed and giving up all together. Although it may sound too easy, starting with small, meaningful goals you can accomplish will help build you confidence in your ability to make changes.

2-     Try adding a habit instead of taking one away. When trying to eat healthier, think about drinking ½ your body weight in water, having veggies with at least 1 meal, or making 1 meal from home each week.  Once you’ve accomplished that goal then you can begin adding tougher goals.

3-     Replace the words you’re saying to yourself. If you’re constantly getting down on yourself because you’ve “screwed up again” then you’re in for a lifetime of negative talk. Replacing that voice with a positive mantra, such as “I’m strong, courageous and smart” can help you start to believe it’s true and bring it to reality.

4-     Develop new coping mechanisms. If you find yourself unable to adhere to goals or actions you’ve set for yourself due to stress taking over, then you may need to find new ways to deal with the stress. If you’ve read my previous post on habits, then you can start to understand how you’ll need to change your routine for certain cues. Taking a bath or doing some stretching instead of reaching for cookies can be the simple changes you may need to develop better coping mechanisms.

5-      Focus on the now. Constantly beating yourself up about a “bad day” won’t solve your problems. Eating healthy isn’t a pass/fail and you don’t have to be perfect. If you missed your exit while driving, would you continue going in the wrong direction? No! You’d get off the nearest exit and continue back on the right path. The easier we move on from bad choices and try to learn from them, the better off we’ll be. Focus on what you do have control over.

6-     Don’t fear “failure.” Similar to the last tip, messing up can lead people to thinking they lack self-discipline. In reality, failure means you’re trying. Use it as an opportunity to grow, learn, and get better. Giving up is only going to hurt you more.

7-      Do the uncomfortable things. Stop running from the hard, uncomfortable things. Push into it a little at a time and get better at being uncomfortable, to help you grow. Feeling some hunger, missing out on a piece of cake, not drinking at every opportunity/party are all chances for you to experience these things and see how it feels to not give in every chance.


“Whatever standard you’ve set for yourself is where you’ll end up. . . unless you fight through your instinct and change your pattern.” -Rachel Hollis, Girl Wash Your Face

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