All or Nothing Thinking
Thursday, January 17, 2013
This next blog is about something that almost all of us do and it hinders our progress in whatever it is that we're trying to accomplish. I first read about it in a book that a therapist recommended to me (Yes, I've been in therapy, and it wasn't until years later that I actually lost weight). It's also in other dieting books, and when I first found Sparkpeople and read The Spark, it was in there, too.
So, the scenario here is you're doing well with your eating and exercising. You've lost a few pounds and are feeling good. Then you go out to dinner one night and eat one too many breadsticks, and now you've gone over your calories for the day. You feel bad about it and then start thinking, "I've blown it. I will never lose weight. I can't do this. I can't even go out to eat without overeating. I might as well give up. I suck." So, then you go home and eat whatever else you can get your hands on, figuring you're a lost cause. This sounds so ridiculous when you think about it, but seriously, haven't you done this? I know I did, for years. I would do great for up to a month or more, have a bad day, and give up. This is All or Nothing Thinking, and it's destructive, whether in regards to weight loss, or anything in your life.
Somehow I had it twisted in my head that it didn't count unless I was perfect. So, when I screwed up once, I felt like I had automatically failed. It was an excuse to give up, a self-fulfilling prophecy. I had believed my whole life (without ever really admitting it out loud) that I'd always been a fat person, and I should probably just get used to the idea of being fat.
To a person without a weight problem, this probably sounds nuts. The rational thing when you have a setback is to just move on, but we don't often do that. Not giving up and falling into this destructive pattern is why I have lost so much weight and kept it off without having large gains. When I had a bad day I didn't give up. I knew my bad feelings would pass and even if they didn't, I made myself work out and realized that one bad day won't ruin everything, unless I let it. Any time I got sick or something came up that could derail me, I thought about how I would get back on track, and I did it. You have to stop allowing yourself to fail, just so you can say, "See, I couldn't do it."
This is not easy to do, but this is where support comes in. When I am feeling like this, like I can't possibly do this for one more damn day, I realize it's just a bad day. I log on to Sparkpeople and talk about how I am feeling, or talk to a friend, and it helps me get through.
People seem to think that in order to lose 100 pounds you must never have slipped up, that you've got it all figured out and you have some sort of super will power. This is not the case. Of course along the way I have had to be strong, but I have made PLENTY of mistakes. The difference between me now and me years ago is that I do not give up. I will not allow myself to give up. This doesn't mean I don't have a bad day where I decide to skip working out or overeat. I am not perfect and once you realize that you don't need to be, this really does get easier. Just life your life and make it a point to make as many healthy changes as you can and then you will get results.
I remember back to when I wasn't fit. The beginning was hard, but I was determined to not give up. I would try to do things, like jumping jacks, and it would upset me when I couldn't. I could only do about 4 or 5 because I literally felt like my ankles would buckle and my legs would collapse. The old me would have given up, thinking it was too hard, that I'd never be able to do it, so why bother. I finally decided to just keep trying, even if it took years, and I would be able to do them. Now I can do dozens of them. I remember falling on my face trying to do a push up once because my arms gave out. I decided that one day I WOULD do a push up, and not only can I do them, I can do full on military push ups. I thought I'd never be able to run a mile, and I've run a half marathon. I ran for over 2 hours and I didn't stop. I am able to do these things because simply put, I kept doing them.
“I’ve missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot…and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan