Kick the “All-or-Nothing” Trap (3 steps)

Cookies, pies, and wine – oh my! 

The holidays can be a busy time of year, and being surrounded by delicious foods and drinks can make us just want to throw in the towel and wait until New Year’s to start working on our health goals again.  

I took these diet breaks every year during the 14 years I was a yo-yo dieter. The last time I had one of these “diet breaks” was December 2012. By the time January 1st rolled around in 2013, I couldn’t fit into my jeans anymore.  

For 14 years I was always either “on a diet” or “off a diet.”
I was caught in the “all-or-nothing” mindset trap.

It was at this point (the beginning of 2013), I decided to break free of this mindset trap and find a more moderate and balanced way to live.  I knew if I didn’t make a change I was going to continue this cycle forever.

The all-or-nothing mindset trap can happen with health and fitness goals, but this mindset trap can also occur with other things we manage in our lives.  

Today I’ll be sharing strategies that relate to health and fitness but keep in mind you can also apply many of these methods to other areas of your life where you find yourself falling into the all-or-nothing mindset trap, as well. 


1) Awareness

The first step is becoming aware of the times we are falling into the all-or-nothing mindset pattern. 

We must start slowly by simply recognizing when we are doing it.

For example, if you find you’re beating yourself up for eating a treat, pause and simply recognize that’s the all-or-nothing trap in action. Make a note of it, but remind yourself that this all-or-nothing mindset trap does not serve you in the long run, and move on.  

This may feel difficult at first because we often feel this method of thinking will help us get healthier, but we can’t guilt our way to success (more about that in step 3 below).  

2) Keep It Simple

The biggest mistake I see people make with health and fitness goals is trying to change a million things at once. This is a surefire recipe for disaster, and it often contributes to the all-or-nothing trap. Either you are eating and exercising perfectly – or you are failing. 

Pick one or two goals to work on each week. For example, just commit to moving at least 20-30 minutes 3 times per week. Or commit to adding more vegetables to your plate at least 2 times per day. Work on building habits that seem do-able and not overwhelming.   

3) Give Up The Guilt

We think guilt motivates us, but that leads to failure over time. Give up the guilt instead. This is a super successful strategy. With regards to nutrition, remind yourself about the benefits of eating nutrient-dense foods, but also allowing ALL foods in moderation.

Realize changing the all-or-nothing mindset trap will not happen overnight. It takes time to break these patterns, but with continued practice, we will change the way we think. All-or-nothing will no longer control our lives!