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Challenge Your All Or Nothing Mentality

ONE COMMON TRAIT we see with clients at Lifexcel is that they often have an all-or-nothing way of thinking. They will either go to the gym five days a week or not go at all. They are snacking either on raw carrots or a huge piece of carrot cake. Modera­tion is a difficult concept. This tends to be a common theme in all areas of their lives, not just in diet and exercise.

Jennifer Smith, one of the dietitians at Lifexcel, told me one of her childhood memories of her mother’s coffee mug, which read, “Eat, drink, and be merry for Monday we will diet.” This philosophy is common; I bet you can relate to some degree. Let me discourage you from this kind of thinking. It tends to create the feeling or mindset that if you are on the wagon, you must be perfect – as in, if you eat even one chocolate chip cookie, then you have failed! It’s easy for that thought to become “I’ll start again in the morning.”

If you find yourself thinking like this, first recognize that it’s a distorted way of looking at things. One chocolate chip cookie is just that. It does not mean you have blown it for the day. It does not mean you are bad. It does not brand you a loser.

Jennifer uses the following analogy with her clients. Let’s say you are traveling from Charlotte to Asheville and you miss the exit to get on Interstate 40. Do you keep going, or do you turn around and head back to your exit? Of course you turn around! You can get back on track just as easily as you got off track. Every bite is a chance to make a different choice.

All-or-nothing thinking sets you up for failure because nobody can be perfect forever. The person who does not understand balance and moderation with regard to their food intake and exercise pro­gram will forever be on a diet/off a diet. This way of thinking

Moderation and balance are very difficult concepts for many of us. Take a moment and think back to your childhood. Did your distorted way of thinking begin here? Was your mother either on a diet or eating steak and potatoes? Were you taught foods are either good or bad? Were there any in-between choices?