Hi Roni! I have been having a real problem with all-or-nothing lately, and I just wanted to know if you could give me some practical tips for overcoming that mentality. One thing you wrote about “Stateless Dieting” definitely makes sense to me, so I am going to read that over and over until it is ingrained in my mind! However, I just wanted to know what you do/did to change your all-or-nothing thinking. I do really, really good most days, because I eat 1500 calories per day and I allow myself to eat a treat if I want it, but it just factors into those 1500 calories.
However, I find that when I am at an event or it is a holiday, I end up going crazy because I feel that it is my “one chance” to eat things that I normally wouldn’t. Even though this overeating doesn’t ruin my progress, I still feel bad about it, and I hate hurting myself, my body, and my self-esteem. I just want to stop thinking that I should screw eating healthfully for the day if I don’t eat “perfectly” (which I consider to be 1500 calories per day of healthy foods). It’s the perfectionism, the rigidity, the black-and-white/all-or-nothing thinking that I want to change. Any advice you have for me would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!!!
I chose your question because there’s a holiday around the corner for some of us. A holiday that consists of A LOT of chocolate, and jelly beans and little marshmallow “peeper” things. You, know… EASTER. A time of year where I am bombarded with some of the best chocolate ever and when I do start to regress into this all or nothing mentality.
The first thing I want to mention is that you are not alone. I think many of us have this perfection gene that kicks in when associated with dieting. I know I grew up thinking I had to look perfect and to achieve that I had to eat perfect. Which sent me down the yo-yo dieting cycle of hell. (I use this image a lot…)
The second thing I need to say is that your email scares me a little. You are asking for advice to stop the “perfectionism, the rigidity, the black-and-white/all-or-nothing thinking” on one hand and then on the other saying things like “I eat 1500 calories per day and I allow myself to eat a treat if I want it, but it just factors into those 1500 calories” and “which I consider to be 1500 calories per day of healthy foods.”
Dude…. that’s rigid! That’s the perfectionism gene that’s going to get you in trouble. How long have you been doing that? I only ask because as you may know I was a Weight Watchers points girl. I counted points for about 2 years. It helped me learn how to balance while giving me a daily target that was helping me lose. So I totally understand setting limits for yourself but even Weight Watchers has the whole weekly flex so you can have those treats without guilt. Thinking you can or will only eat a certain number of points or calories everyday for the rest of your life is a recipe for disaster, in my opinion. That’s a good example of perfectionism bearing it’s ugly head if I ever saw one.
After awhile I needed to stop counting. I didn’t stop eating healthy. I just stopped counting points. I released myself of the pressure of that daily target and it was a huge step for me to get over the perfectionism mindset. Points where comfortable for me to track probably as calories are to you. But after maintaining for awhile I started to find the points restrictive and the mentality you described started sneaking back into my brain because it’s just not possible to be perfect forever. Some days you will eat more then 1500 calories. Some days you will even eat less.
Now I did stop counting after I hit my goal weight and maintained it for awhile. I have no idea where you are in your journey based on your email but maybe giving yourself a break from your 1500 calorie a day rule is what you need. You may be surprised when you start to trust yourself. I still battle some of these thoughts from time to time but by giving myself permission to relax a bit I’ve learn to trust my instincts and accept that I will never be perfect and that’s OK. I do the best I can and that will have to be good enough.
I hope that helps, Mattison. I’m sure other perfectionist fighters will chime in with their tips. ;)