3 ‘all-or-nothing’ healthy living mindsets debunked

We’ve all got that little voice in our heads. The voice that undermines our best intentions and rationalizes the making of poor choices when it comes to fitness and nutrition. The voice that says ‘why bother’ or ‘what’s the point’ or ‘I’ll start next Monday’.

healthy living mindsetsFor many women, that voice reflects an underlying ‘all-or-nothing’ mindset. The attitude that only full-on-balls-to-the-walls effort is worth the time. That small steps don’t matter. That perfection trumps progress.

I’ve heard many variations on this theme from my clients and group fitness participants and have been known, on occasion, to utter the same words to myself

Below, I share the 3 most common examples and the arguments I’ve found to be helpful in moving myself and others past our ‘all-or-nothing’ mindset barriers.

3 ‘all-or-nothing’ healthy living mindsets debunked

This month is crazy busy at home/school/work; I’ll get back to exercise when things slow down.

This mindset is based on the assumption that tomorrow will be easier than today. That you’ll have fewer commitments and responsibilities in the future than you do now. That there’s a ‘perfect’ time to start an exercise program and clean up your diet.

In my experience, tomorrow never comes. The current crisis or workout passes, only to be replaced by another. Next month will be just as busy as this month (know the saying, ‘tasks expand to fill all available time’?) and before you know it, another year has passed without any appreciable progress towards your health and fitness goals.

The perfect time to make change is always right now. The path to progress is many small steps, repeated daily. Start by incorporating just one or two short workouts in your week. No more than 30 minutes and nothing that requires you to get dressed and drive someplace. Maybe all you have time for is a walk at lunch. That’s great. Start small and build from there; that way ‘when things slow down’, you’ll be ready to ramp it up 😉

Check out my YouTube channel for examples of short and efficient workouts you can do at home.

I’ve already derailed today’s healthy meal plan; might as well have another glass of wine/helping of dessert/handful of chips.

This mindset is built on the false premise that your body resets it’s metabolic clock at midnight. That today’s less-than-healthy choices are wiped clean by the act of going to sleep and getting up in the morning. That you won’t feel any worse or any less energetic tomorrow because of your overindulgence. That you can’t ‘eat just one’ and feel satisfied.

It often goes hand in hand with the “I’ll start my diet on Monday” mindset. Post-poning the opportunity to make small, healthy decisions today; decisions that will only become habit if you practice them consistently.

 I don’t have time for an hour-long spin class/bootcamp/gym session today; I’ll make it up later in the week.

A classic example of ‘go hard or go home’ thinking, this mindset is probably the most challenging to overcome. Thanks to the constant barrage of magazine headlines and social media posts encouraging us to work ‘harder-faster-longer-more’ and wondering ‘what’s your excuse’ when we don’t, is it any wonder we doubt the benefits of a mere fifteen minutes of movement?

The thing is, 15 minutes of exercise will always be better than nothing. Better than spending the same amount of time sitting in the car, on the couch or in front of the computer (unless you’re reading encouraging blog posts, like this one…). Find two 15-minute stretches of time in your busy day and all of a sudden you’re fitting in 30 minutes of fitness.

Is your ‘all or nothing’ healthy living mindset holding you back?

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  1. Bev Bakka says:

    So my speedy commuter walk happens in four 15 minute blocks and it gets the heart rate up when I am running late to meet the train

  2. YES!!!!! I have always said for years, don’t wait till Monday or January or anything else – now is the time! 🙂

    On food, just move on – always – just move on.. don’t let a little slip up deter you.. we all do it! 🙂

    Move whenever you can – every little bit helps! 🙂
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted…So Much Great Stuff to Write About! Companies that Give Back!My Profile

  3. Oh yes, these thoughts definitely enter my mind more often than I care to admit. Especially #2!!!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…High Five Friday: Appearances, Appearances, AppearancesMy Profile

    • And what do you say to yourself to move past it Christine? I always find the answer to this question to be so insightful…

  4. Great tips! I think I know better than this, but sometimes these excuses sneak in.
    Coco recently posted…5 Tips For Staying Active While TravelingMy Profile

    • Well, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have an excuse or a rationalization every now and then, right?

  5. Yes, yes, and yes.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…Coffee BrowniesMy Profile

  6. I do that thing where I’ll keep eating crap because it fits inside a 24 hour frame. Usually, I call that Saturday. Haha. But very true, going to sleep doesn’t reset the clock and by the time we wake up, that’s when we feel the effects of our less-than-optimal eating. Any time is a good time to reign back into healthy habits.
    Chris recently posted…How To Get Hype Before Your WorkoutMy Profile

  7. I’m struggling with all of three of these right now. Coming off the half marathon, I’m in a bit of a funk. I’m eating too much and not doing anything…and that’s not an exaggeration. I’m starting today. Again. 🙂

  8. I am so guilty of this. If I can’t wait up early to get my workout in, I tend to blow off the rest of the day. And I most definitely, do the food thing. I have the attitude of “well I already blew it so why not enjoy it” Working on both of these 🙂 Thanks for the great article
    Stephanie Robbins recently posted…New Affiliate Marketing Tools Launched at Shareasale’s Think Tank 2014My Profile

  9. Nope…I have never had the “wait until tomorrow” problem as I LOVE my early morning runs/bike rides/swims/weights/yoga before work. I have for over 40 years now.I KNOW how I will feel by lunchtime if I don’t do something to kickstart my day…
    And I have no problem with no dessert. Again I know how I will feel if I do eat that cupcake at work. Yuck.
    P.S. Change the “to” to “too” on your photo……

    • Cherylann, I love that you’re not affected by this mindset. To be honest, you’re probably in the minority, but your attitude is exactly what others need to see to change theirs!

      Thanks for the heads up on the typo 🙂


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