The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between

Quick Tip #8 ~ All or Nothing Thinking

Most people trying to change a habit start that change by trying to incorporate the habits of others.  They do this despite the other person needing months and years to successfully add the habits into their lives.  For example, if someone were to try and follow my eating and workout schedule, the change would be a huge jump compared to what they’re used to doing.  This is where I think a lot of people get in trouble.  Not only are they trying to make changes based around someone else’s habits, they also believe that they have to jump all in or they don’t make any changes at all.

What I have seen time and time again though, is that the most successful change, being self-directed or not, is when the person learns methods that work best for that individual.

This is the reason why you get Cross-fit zealots, slow-steady state cardio, yoga, pilates and bodybuilders all espousing the best way to get fit.  They’ve figured out what works best for themselves.

Add on top of that, nutrition advice that is best suited for athletes versus information that is best suited for beginners, and you will typically get conflicting advice on the best way to eat.  Athletes will typically need more carbs, whereas beginners will typically WANT more carbs, but won’t necessarily need them.

The following Quick Tips will highlight some of the major things I see holding people back from taking on new habits.  Some of these may apply to you, others won’t.  Truth be told there are no “best methods” for change, for every single person.   Eventually you will have to experiment with your life to see what works best.  These are just some common mistakes I see people make.

All or Nothing Thinking – If there was any method of thinking that holds people back more than any other is the All or Nothing thinking.  These are the people that are either trying to lose all the weight in the world or they are eating for 4 people.  You are either working out like a maniac or you are President of Couch Potatoes Union.

He's not only a client - He's the President.

The best way to undermine this thinking is to be aware that a little is better than nothing.

Also be aware that when you inhibit your urges constantly (like with dieting), you are more apt to over-indulge whenever you become stressed*.  This doesn’t mean that you should get a free pass of gluttonous action every time you’re stressed.  What it means is that you should allow yourself the same mindset – I can have a small amount of this food – without degrading yourself even more for having a small portion.

I think the biggest problem with the All or Nothing mindset though is that it doesn’t allow you to experiment with your life.  It doesn’t allow you to see how to combine different methods that work for you individually because you’re constantly caught up in the game of either doing everything perfectly or not at all.  By doing that, you lose the power to see what fits into your life, and what things need to be discarded.  Only by that self-discovery, that self-experimentation will you learn how to add healthy eating and fitness into your lifestyle.

I could probably turn this post into a much larger one because there are whole books on this subject, but instead, I’ll leave you with a quick question:
Are you taking on this mindset and if you are, how are you going to change it?

*Books I’m referring to: The End of Over-Eating by David Kessler, and
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Zapolsky

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3 comments found

  1. Great post -very inspiring!
    This was my favorite part [because it perfectly summarizes the positive results that come from being open-minded, persistent, and patient] :
    “Only by that self-discovery, that self-experimentation will you learn how to add healthy eating and fitness into your lifestyle.”

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