I’ll admit it, I am a reformed ‘all or nothing’ person.
If you’re not familiar with what being ‘all or nothing’ looks like, let me explain…
It’s either being on a strict diet OR eating everything in sight,
it’s exercising hard every single day OR sitting on the couch not moving,
it’s drinking two bottles of wine and getting absolutely hammered OR not drinking at all…
Being ‘all or nothing’ is great for a while, while you’re on the diet, doing the exercising, or not drinking the wine, but it’s not so great when you go the other way…
Eating everything in sight, not moving off the couch, or getting hammered every night.
‘All or nothing’ people might say things like, “What’s the point working out if I only have 20 minutes and can’t do my full session?” or “I had an unhealthy breakfast so I’m going ‘off plan’ all day and I’ll get back on track tomorrow…” or “I’m having a take-away tonight so what’s the point eating healthy today?” or “What’s the point going out if I can’t get drunk?”
‘All or nothing’ people don’t buy biscuits, because “If they’re in the house, I’ll eat the whole packet in one go.” You would not believe how many times I’ve been told this.
But inbetween ‘all or nothing’ is where moderation lives, and moderation can be a beautiful place – especially when it comes to losing weight.
Moderation allows you to eat a healthy diet and still enjoy a biscuit or glass of wine.
Moderation is working out two or three times a week, and fitting it around your other commitments.
Moderation is drinking a glass of wine and being able to stop and put the bottle back in the fridge.
It’s also being able to go on Facebook for 10 minutes, without looking up and realising that you’ve just wasted the whole night.
For most people, moderation is key.
In my experience, the people who diet hard and cut out all of their favourite foods can only do it for a short period of time before they spectacularly fall off the wagon. They may lose lots of weight fast, but they soon regain it (and some) because they can’t add their favourite foods back in in moderation. Instead, they find themselves in the ‘binge/restrict cycle’ where they’re either restricting their favourite food altogether or bingeing on it uncontrollably. I’ve been there too.
Or, people try and diet hard and start a hardcore exercise regime all at once, and last approximately three days before deciding it’s too hard. Maybe you’ve been there too?
I believe the way to find moderation is by mastering one thing at once, and by establishing healthy habits, as well as being kind to yourself and practicing self compassion.
This is what I encourage with my clients. I don’t ask them to overhaul their life overnight, and I don’t ask them to become perfect. Honestly, most ‘normal’ people don’t need to this! However, years of fitness industry and diet club propaganda makes us think that if something isn’t hard, it’s not going to work or it’s not even worth doing at all.
I don’t ask my clients to cut any foods out of their diet. Yes, you read that right. Instead, we work on keeping all foods and all food groups in their diet, in moderation as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Because, let’s face it, the more you ban or demonise something, the more you obsess over it, and you will eventually end up binging on it!
Here’s another truth bomb… You don’t have to only eat chocolate or treats at the weekend. As part of a healthy and balanced diet, you could have it on a random Monday afternoon, if you wanted to. This is ok and, if you’re in a Calorie deficit, you will still lose weight.
When dealing with ‘all or nothing’ thinking, try to be self compassionate. You don’t have to be perfect all of the time.
An old mentor of mine used to say, “7 out of 10 is good enough” and this is something I remind myself of daily.
Your diet doesn’t have to be 10/10 perfect everyday – 7/10 is good enough.
You don’t have to crush every single workout you do – 7/10 is good enough.
You don’t have to be super productive all of the time – 7/10 is good enough.
You don’t have to get a distinction in every exam you sit – 7/10 is good enough.
Being 7/10 all of the time, in my opinion, is much better than being 10/10 for one day week and then 0/10 for the other six days.
Yes, it might take a little bit longer to lose the weight BUT, with moderation and without ‘all or nothing’ thinking, once you get to where you want to be you’ll be able to stay there without rebounding back the other way. You’ll finally be able to break free of that yo-yo dieting cycle, and you won’t have to go on another diet again.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? It is good. Trust me.
Try practicing moderation and see how it feels.
Catch yourself thinking ‘all or nothing’ thoughts and remind yourself that 7 out of 10 is good enough, and you don’t have to be perfect to get results. Especially when it comes to losing weight.
If binge eating, alcohol, or ‘all or nothing’ thinking is causing you problems, please seek help from a qualified and trained professional.