You don’t have to be perfect to live a healthier life. Perfection is unrealistic. And it’s unnecessary!
All-or-nothing thinking is the type of thinking that makes us believe we need to be perfect, otherwise it’s not even worth trying. And it can get in the way of reaching your goals.
All-or-nothing thoughts might sound like:
- “I didn’t lose any weight this week. I’ll never reach my goal.”
- “I won’t be ready to run that 5K race in a month, so I might as well give up now.”
- “I ate two slices of pizza for lunch. My healthy eating plan is already a bust for the day, so I might as well splurge for dinner, too.”
These are common thoughts, but they can make it tough to stick with your goals!
Reframing your thoughts from those all-or-nothing, black-and-white absolutes to “shades of gray” will improve your chances of success and help you treat yourself with more compassion. This can help you stick with healthy changes over the long term.
Follow the 6 R’s to reframe your thoughts:
- RECOGNIZE your all-or-nothing thoughts. Pay attention to the words you use. How often do you say “never” and “always”? These commanding words set impossible standards. You set yourself up for failure, because you can’t live up to them. Choose other language instead.
- REMIND yourself that it’s about the big picture. Keep in mind that foods are not “good” or “bad.” If you didn’t make the healthiest choices at lunch, balance them out with more nourishing foods over the rest of the day. Change your language from “I ruined my diet” to “I can get right back on track and eat more vegetables at dinner.”
- REFRAME your thoughts by focusing on building the habit first. Focus on the effort later. The goal is to build a healthier lifestyle that’s sustainable. That means practicing healthier habits over and over again. This requires time. It’s not a race! There is no prize at the end for getting there faster. Ask yourself, “Where’s the middle ground here?” Tell yourself, “Eating that piece of cake may not help my weight loss today, but it certainly won’t ruin it forever.”
- REFLECT on your growth. Consider the “old you” and how you handle situations. Is it different now than it was in the past? “A year ago, I wouldn’t have known that what I was doing wasn’t a healthy choice. Now I know and I can do something about it.” Focus on celebrating your wins.
- REWRITE the script in your mind. Instead of saying “No more dessert for me!,” try a different script. Tell yourself: “I can pass on dessert most of the time. And when I do have dessert, I will just have one piece or a bite. I will eat it mindfully and really savor every moment.”
- REPEAT the process. This doesn’t come easy. Changing habits takes practice. Remind yourself that it’s about progress, not perfection, and even baby steps will keep moving you along your path.