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The All or Nothing Myth

Simply put the fastest way to destroy your relationship with exercise and healthy eating is to go at it with an all or nothing approach.

By Stuart Perry, Personal Trainer at Bangor

Simply put the fastest way to destroy your relationship with exercise and healthy eating is to go at it with an all or nothing approach. Often in our desperation for a result as fast as possible we can approach our goals with an all or nothing mindset. I’m suggesting that this approach to your health and fitness goals is more detrimental long term then you might realize.

See the thing about the all or nothing approach is neither sides of it are sustainable, so best case scenario is you go all in, achieve your result and can't sustain the process or the result, then you regress and go backwards from your goal having to lose everything you once achieved. Keep in mind that’s the best-case scenario of an all or nothing approach. Worst case you never even achieve the goal in the first place.

This process of having to choose between a routine you can’t commit to or consistently perform or watching all your hard work go down the drain is taxing and can damage your motivation to pursue a goal in the future, not to mention is damaging to your self-confidence and self-image.

See half the trick with health and fitness goals is building small maintainable habits you can continue to do long term one by one into your routine, this is called pancaking. One by one these habits form a way of living that aligns with your goals. This is a very authentic way to go about achieving what your wants. In comparison going all or nothing is a cover for not being willing to commit to changing as a person long term, a very disingenuous way to live. “I’ll go super hard now so I can go easy later” unfortunately this just simply doesn’t work with your health and fitness your results will always adjust to your current process not stay at your previous best.

One of the better mindsets I’ve found to combat this is to focus on keeping your actions aligned with who you want to be as a person. Every choice you make is either a vote for who you want to be or not. Going as hard as you can then relaxing afterwards is like pretending to be that person for a little bit because you’re not able to commit to the actions that person would take long term. In this case either reduce your expectations for now of who you want to be, remember one pancake at a time not the whole stack or free up more time or resources to meet your own expectations. Remember each step of change usually comes with a different challenge which requires different change from you personally. The key with this solution is to keep your expectations aligned with your capacity to do the tasks associated. Don’t set yourself up for failure with expectations of being a 10/10 but only having the time to make 2/10 changes your expectations must line up with your ability to fulfill the task.

So, to finish, I’d like to challenge your perspective of achievement when it comes to health and fitness. When setting a goal let’s say to lose weight you can either set a “thing” goal or an “identity” goal. A thing goal would look like this ‘lose 10kgs” so as to say when I have this thing, I will have achieved my goal, not speaking to the importance of keeping it or maintain anything you did to get there.

Now an identity goal would look like this “become a healthy example for my kids by losing 10kgs making me a more confident and active father and husband” this goal speaks more to the person I would become in the process of losing 10kgs. The 10kgs is simply a measurement tool. The goal is actually to become a more active healthy example for my family a change in identity something that requires constant upkeep and for me to maintain weigh loss I had achieved.

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