We’ve all been there. We overindulge at a party or at work and subsequently, feel guilty. We figure we’ve thrown everything off: our healthy habits, our commitment to eating things that fuel our bodies, etc. This feeling of guilt is likely worse for those working in the health and fitness world. If you are a part of this world, you may have found yourself thinking
“Wow-how can I lead others to healthy living if I can’t even do it myself?”
This type of thinking is likely the result of two areas of faulty reasoning:
1 “All or nothing” thinking, and
2 The power of inconsistent behaviors over consistent behaviors
All or Nothing
When we find ourselves thinking it’s all or nothing with our health, we are actually saying that perfection is the only option, and we expect ourselves to perfectly make healthy choices every single day. If we don’t, we throw up our hands, saying, “Forget it! I can’t do this healthy living thing anymore. I’m not going to care about making healthy choices any longer.”
It sounds extreme, doesn’t it? But we all fall prey to “all or nothing” thinking from time to time. The intention behind it is good-we WANT to make healthy choices and treat our bodies well, but we become frustrated with ourselves when we don’t live up to the perfect mark we’ve set, whatever that mark is. This can cause more damage than one time of indulgence, because we give up our healthy habits altogether, solely out of our frustration. One time of indulgence becomes a lifestyle of no longer making healthy choices.
When we find ourselves experiencing “all or nothing” thinking, we need to stop and assess our feelings in the moment. Ask “What feelings am I experiencing? Am I frustrated with my choices? Am I discouraged? Am I afraid this action is a relapse into old habits I don’t want to revisit?” Getting to the bottom of why we’re thinking a certain way can help us slow down, take a breath, and begin to realize that one indulgence is not worth tossing our healthy habits out the window.
Inconsistent vs. Consistent Behaviors
The second type of faulty thinking we can experience is placing more value on the behaviors we exhibit inconsistently than those we exhibit consistently. For instance, indulging at one party does not cancel out all the healthy choices we’ve been making day after day. Many times, we don’t remember those consistent healthy choices because they’re typically small, and if they’re habitual, we don’t really have to think about them. But the beauty of small things is that they add up over time, and we end up living a majority of our lives making healthy choices. As Gretchen Rubin says when discussing habits in her book, “Better than Before”, “What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while.”
The best way to subdue this way of thinking is to celebrate our accomplishments-even the seemingly small ones. Did you bring a healthy lunch to work every day this week? Celebrate! Did you cook most of your meals at home, so you can control the ingredients in your food? Celebrate! Celebrating the small things helps us take notice of them, and remember that they all add up to be a big deal.
So, if you find you’re worrying about an occasional indulgence, stop and assess whether you’re experiencing “all or nothing” thinking or placing more value on inconsistent behaviors rather than those you do day after day. If so, get to the bottom of what you’re really feeling or take a moment to celebrate the small wins. Chatting with a Smart Fit Chicks coach also proves helpful when we experience this type of thinking. If you’d like some consistent conversations about getting your thoughts and behaviors on track, click the “Coaching” link at the top of this page and set up a meeting with one of our wellness coaches!
Remember: our thoughts dictate our actions and behaviors. So, let’s help one another with our thinking patterns, and remind each other to celebrate our wins, no matter how small.
Written By Brittni Paris, SFC Blogger
Gretchen Rubin, Better than Before (New York: Crown Publishers, 2015), 80.
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Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash