I haven’t worked out in two days. I went out for lunch yesterday and ordered pasta salad over a garden salad as my side. Did I mention I also ate 5 thin mints before bed?
Not that long ago I would’ve felt really low about this. I would’ve laid in bed, on my phone, planning out what low calorie smoothie I would have for breakfast the next morning. What salad I’d eat for lunch and how many calories I needed to burn that day to make me “feel better” and to be sure that I wouldn’t gain weight from this “mistake” I had made these last two days. I’m a slacker, I’m not committed and for that, I should probably give up on my wellness goal now.
See anything wrong with this thinking? Perhaps it sounds slightly familiar? Maybe for you, it sounds extreme? For years I struggled with the ‘All or Nothing Mentality’ - the negative thought pattern of I’m either successful or I’m a failure. These “absolute” terms I was using (never, forever, always, only, etc.)were getting the best of me and it needed to stop. It was making me miserable and defeated. The feeling that there is no gray area, it’s either black or white.
My health goals were always fairly simple. I wanted to be lean, lose some fat and I didn’t want to feel bloated all the time. I’ve always enjoyed the gym and cooking healthy foods but sometimes I noticed myself restricting so much where I’d really overindulge in my portions later on. Then, I’d feel shameful and say the hell with it and eat whatever came to mind. Sometimes I felt my workouts weren’t enough so I’d workout twice a day instead of once. ‘It’s all or nothing’ is what I’d tell myself. Often, these patterns left me feeling discouraged and low.
For me, I began noticing I had some work to do because I became completely exhausted of the vicious cycle this took on my mind. I would obsess over calories, workouts and what I wanted to look like 24/7. It was leading to poor sleep and feeling anxious a lot when it came to making food choices or going to the gym. Why was I obsessing if at a certain time of the month I was 5lbs heavier?
It couldn’t have been because I was thirsty could it? Or that my body was dehydrated and needed water? PMS? No way was my body craving more food than what I “thought” I needed, right? How could that be?!
(Insert eye roll here and some serious sarcasm! lol)
I began feeling exhausted and mentally drained with this way of thinking and I knew something needed to change. I began writing in my journal when I felt down on myself after missing a workout or eating more than I felt comfortable with. I quickly realized that these negative thoughts were stemming from the fact that I was a perfectionist and because I did in fact suffer with anxiety in the form of OCD. It was in that moment of realization, I knew I had to start changing the way I was thinking. It’s like they say, you can eat all the kale in the world and still be unhealthy.
Let’s be real, when you don’t achieve a goal - it’s a crappy feeling. I’ve been there. To feel alive and well is a commitment one needs to make as a daily ritual - forever. None of us will ever be perfect and most days don’t go as planned. No matter who you are, you’re going to have to always work on yourself. It should be fun, not stressful and exhausting. Not one way or another way. There are sooo many recipes, workouts and health advice out there that it can feel very overwhelming most of the time. Your wellness - body and mind - is a lifelong journey. Patience, positivity and understanding that making mistakes were ok were the keys to me changing my ‘all or nothing’ mentality.
I began really thinking about my happiness and what mattered most in life. My anxiety lessened and my body was finally ‘good enough’ for me. I noticed that my problems lied in me becoming obsessive and not knowing when enough was enough. By journaling, taking up yoga, and giving gratitude daily for who I am and how grateful I should be for this life and body I have - the “all or nothing” mentality started to dwindle. Mind took over matter.
Do I sometimes fall short and feel a little bad about slacking? Sure. But I no longer think in terms of ‘all or nothing’ because it’s not reality. I pick up on my goal at the next meal or the next workout. I’m thankful for my health and know that it’s always something I WANT to work on.
If you find yourself thinking about your health and wellness in terms of “all or nothing” it might be a good idea to re-evaluate your goals and your WHY. Why are you working so hard? What are you expecting to achieve? That’s what I did and quickly I realized my health was a journey. There is no end. There’s a goal upon a goal upon a goal and my wellness is ever evolving because it’s about so much more than one thing or the other. It’s important to be grateful and appreciative for your health every day. Be mindful.