Skip to content

All or nothing

Finding a good balance of healthy and happy is often our biggest challenge

Over the course of probably 20 years, I tried everything to lose weight. I would start out really strong, lose 10-20 lbs., only to gain it back plus 5. I’d feel like a failure and hate myself for gaining the weight back. I’d sit in my rut for a while, and eventually get motivated to try something else, and that cycle continued for many, many years. I’m sure many of you are living in this vicious cycle right now.  

One thing I always ask my clients who are in similar situations and seeking help to lose weight for the umpteenth time is what’s different about this time? This question stumps most people, myself included. After losing nearly 100 lbs. and mostly maintaining it for a couple of years now, people often ask what the secret is. What diet worked? What type of exercise? And at first, I didn’t know why that time was different, why I was actually able to lose all that weight and keep it off. After a lot of thought, the biggest factor was letting go of the all-or-nothing mentality. I would stay on plan perfectly with no straying from whatever the plan was. My execution would be flawless. Until it wasn’t, and a downward spiral would follow. Since I’d cracked and went off plan, I figured the day/week/month/season was ruined, might as well eat everything I’d been depriving myself of and start fresh tomorrow/Monday/first of the month/first day of a new season.

Changing the mindset

It took a while, but I started to let this go. To break the cycle. Instead of focusing on perfection, I focused on consistency. For me, this had a lot to do with exercise, and training for my first half marathon. I started to view food as fuel. If I ate like crap, my runs felt like crap. When it comes to weight loss, nutrition is 80-90% of the equation, and I do believe it when they say you can’t outrun a bad diet. Trust me, I tried.  But when I am consistent in getting enough protein, staying hydrated, eating fruits and veggies, and keeping refined sugar, fried, and processed foods to a minimum, I simply feel better. My workouts are better. I sleep better. If I do go a little off the rails, which still happens sometimes, I’m much better at reigning it in quickly. And since I’m never trying to be perfect with my diet, I don’t have junk food binges as often because I don’t deprive myself anymore. I don’t eliminate whole food groups or have unreasonable calorie restrictions.  

On paper, losing weight is really simple. You must burn more energy than you take in. You must be in a calorie deficit, however, that looks for you. People may choose to achieve a calorie deficit in many ways, like intermittent fasting which involves only eating during certain hours, restrictive diets that eliminate whole food groups like Atkins and keto, counting calories or points, using meal replacement shakes, and the list goes on and on. I have tried them all and nearly all of them worked in the short term but were not sustainable for me. I did track food most days for a while, which helped me learn to prioritize protein, make sure my portion sizes were in check, and helped me with accountability. I love food, so anything that involved not eating or severely limiting the foods I love didn’t last long. Tracking got me over halfway there, but I knew it was something I didn’t want to do forever. I had to work on emotional eating, which is really hard. I’m still working on it now. Some things were pretty easy to start and stick with, like I’m pretty decent at planning meals and having healthy snack options in the house. Other things I still struggle with, like stopping eating when I’m no longer hungry when what I’m eating is delicious, but I’m working on it. This is a journey after all.

1 thought on “All or nothing”

  1. I’ve definitely shifted from fad diets and excluding certain foods to balance and cutting chemicals, preservatives, artificial this, artificial that. Fruit, lean beef, eggs, real milk, beans, vegetables, wheat, rice, fish, chicken, olive oils…..whole unprocessed foods that have no added ingredients. Carbs? Yup. Whole grains. Fruit? Yup. Lean meat? Yup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *