During the process of helping people suffering from obesity, we’ve been able to watch their weight loss journeys and see what’s helped people succeed and see those people who succeed and how they’re different than people who tried the program and maybe failed or fell off track.
One of the biggest things is a particular kind of mindset that we want to talk about. It’s called the “all or nothing” mindset. It’s one of the biggest reasons why people who have this “all or nothing” mindset fail far more often than people who succeed.
So, what is this “all or nothing” mindset? Why is it so bad when it comes to weight loss? Well, the mindset is basically this – I’m either on the plan or I’m off the plan – there’s no in-between.
So, if I have an in-between day of eating but then I slip up, and I have a candy or a soda, the day is gone! It’s now a cheat day! It turned out from being a little cheap meal to now it’s a full cheat day.
Or when it comes to exercise, it’s like – oh, man, you know, I’m so busy today. I don’t have the time to get in my full hour workout that I had planned. So I do nothing instead of maybe doing the 10 minutes of walking or the small things you could fit into your schedule.
Or when it comes to your overall weight loss trajectory in your plan, maybe you’re doing great for a few weeks, and then some friends or family come into town, or you have a different thing happening on the weekend, and you don’t follow the plan for a couple of days.
Then you’re like – oh, you know the diet’s blown, I’m off track! Then you completely go off track instead of course correcting and getting back on track.
The point is – “all or nothing” mentality can be substituted for the word rigidity. It’s rigid versus the flexible approach, the one that’s a little more rubber. Rigid versus rubber. The rubber one can bounce back. It takes a hit. It’s not perfect, but it bounces back.
Rigid takes a hit, and it breaks. When it breaks, then there’s a whole cycle of beating yourself up, needing to get the willpower to get back on the program, and it’s a whole mess.
So, perfection is never the goal! It is trending in the right direction, so we want you to ask yourself this reflection question: are there areas of your life right now where you’re bringing this alt “all or nothing” mentality?
Especially if you’re a person who is a high achiever, who typically would consider maybe a type-A personality, who wants everything to be perfect? Where is this stuff coming up in your life? Is it coming up with your nutrition? Is it coming up with your internal mental talk about your busyness and your lack of time to exercise?
Is it coming off the track with how you perform over the weekends when you’re not on the same healthy eating or maybe not exercising as much? Are you finding that you’re slipping off track with this “all or nothing” mentality?
The key message here is this the “all or nothing” mentality sucks. It comes from a good place. It comes from a place of us wanting to be excellent at what we do, but it’s just not realistic. Health and fitness are about clustering our decisions in the trend of the right direction of forwarding progress. It’s not about being perfect.
In fact, the real skill is when we do get off track, how do we get back on track, how do we course correct very quickly without beating ourselves up about it. It’s called being flexible. It’s called moving forward. It’s keeping your goal in mind and not expecting perfection but just expecting progress.
We think it’s “all or nothing” mentality comes up a lot with exercise. People either feel like I have the time to work out, or I don’t. It’s like a binary thing: yes/no, 1-0, and that’s just not the case.
There’s a concept, and it’s called micro workouts: it’s a heck of a lot better to get three or four five-minute workouts throughout the day than not to do a full 60-minute workout because you don’t have the time.
Let’s say if you took five minutes, and you took a walk around the block, you took the stairs up in your office, you did a minute of jumping jacks and a minute of push-ups, a minute of air squats. Three minutes of exercise you do three times a day, that’s nine minutes of exercise. You do this five times per week – you’re doing an extra hour of exercise that you wouldn’t have done before.
So, you get the idea: math wasn’t perfect there, but the idea is that micro workouts sprinkled in are not the “all or nothing” mentality. Something is better than nothing. Forward progress is all that matters.
We hope this helps you, and we hope that you can reflect on your own life and see where this is coming up. We can tell you that our most successful members got over the all-or-nothing mentality. They kept moving forward, and when you inevitably go off track, you course correct that’s going to help you stay healthy for life.