Contributed by: Michelle Baglio, RD, LD
Why You Don’t Have To Be “ALL IN” To Get Results
“It’s been too hot to walk so I didn’t exercise at all this week.”
“I went out to dinner on Wednesday instead of eating what I planned, and I just couldn’t pass up the burger and fries.”
“I’ve been working late and it’s not worth it to get just 20 minutes of exercise in when I get home.”
“I bought a box of crackers and wound up eating a whole sleeve before dinner so I’ll get back to journaling tomorrow.”
Do you find yourself saying things like this to yourself about nutrition and/or exercise goals?
It’s common to believe that you need to perfectly follow a meal plan and exercise everyday for 30 minutes in order to see results. But when there’s a day that you can’t (or don’t) do it “all the way” then you feel like you’ve failed. This attitude may then put you in a state of “paralysis” where you just keep doing what you’ve always done (such as sleeping in rather than getting up to exercise). Alternatively, you might find yourself in what I call the “avalanche” effect, where your behavior gets worse and ultimately spirals out of control (such as eating 1 cookie that then becomes 4 cookies that then becomes half the box).
Believe me when I say that you do not have to be perfect in order to get results. Here are a few ways you can change the way you think about your goals that will help achieve results.
1) Be flexible. If your plan is to do cardio 30 minutes 5 times per week, change your thinking to accumulating 150 minutes over the course of the week. For example, when you look at your schedule each week, do a 45-60-minute low intensity session 1-2 days per week, 20-30 minute moderate intensity sessions 2-3 days per week, and 10-15 minute bouts when short on time.
2) Focus on adding instead of deleting. It’s easy to get in the mindset that you need to deprive yourself of foods you love in order to eat healthfully. Instead, think about what you don’t do enough of and make that your goal. For example, you may realize that you only eat about 1 cup of vegetables daily. So your goal may be something like this: add a green smoothie 3 times per week; eat your morning eggs with a side of cooked veggies; or have a garden salad with dinner. Over time, as you keep adding healthy habits, your less healthy habits will lessen without you having to think about it.
3) Don’t be too hard on yourself. We tend to be our own worst critics when it comes to how well we are “sticking” to the plan. If you find that you get fast food instead of preparing more meals at home, it’s important to recognize what you did well that week, too. Think about the fact that you ate more vegetables than you did the week before. Also consider why you ate fast food. If its because you didn’t have food on hand or are getting out of work late, these are things you can plan for ahead of time, such as having food on hand, meals that are made in 15-20 minutes, or leftovers.
The key with all-or-nothing thinking is to not let yourself get trapped in the web of self-criticism and allow yourself to enjoy and appreciate the fact that you are a “work in progress”.