Why “All or Nothing” Won’t Work – and What to Do Instead

You know that feeling when you commit to a new diet? Feels something like, “Yeah! This is the ONE! I’m going to do this 200%, and in a few weeks I’ll have lost so much weight I can finally wear that size I’ve always wanted! This time I’m staying on the wagon, and it’s going to happen!”

It may be hard to believe, but that thought pattern actually sets you up to fail. But hold on, before you dismiss the idea, and give it a moment of thought.

When you commit to something 200% – or even 100% – what happens when you fall off the wagon?

If you’ve told yourself that there IS no falling off the wagon because to do so is unacceptable, then you’ve failed if you once stray from the path. And so your mindset is one of failure. But then when the next temptation arises, your mindset is “Well, I’ve already failed, so why not at least enjoy myself?” And so you might give in easily.

And after that, the next temptation? It gets even easier to keep “failing.” And the next thing you know, your diet is the furthest thing from your mind (but the guilt is front and center!), and instead of losing weight, you’ve gained some. Ouch.

But what if your roadmap for success allows these “side trips?” Instead of becoming your downfall, they suddenly become part of the path. You don’t have to spend all day thinking about that food that you’re craving because you’re not allowed to have it – you can have a little, enjoy it, and move on with your day.

I had a conversation with a client this week about this topic. Our work together had helped to change her mindset from “all or nothing” to one of empowered choice. The magic of the switch was that she didn’t have to constantly feel deprived – she could have a treat when she wanted, but that didn’t mean she was a failure. Quite the opposite, actually – this realization has helped her to lose 8 pounds so far!

What are your experiences with mindset?

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