All or nothing?

Yesterday in the gym I met a lovely lady who was doing what looked like a very fun, but very hard workout with a trainer. We were stretching near each other (always stretch after workouts please) and we got to chatting a bit. She mentioned that when it comes to dieting and exercise she has an “all or nothing” attitude. Now that sounds familiar!

I don’t know about you but I have definitely applied that attitude in the past, and as recently as a few weeks ago when I tried the sugar detox. While that style of diet can work for a short time, for a specified goal… health is so much more than that. Health is a lifestyle, and all or nothing does not work for life.

Let me walk you through what happens to me, and from what I’ve heard, happens to most people too.

Step 1: You decide you need to change and you set a goal. “I need to lose 10 pounds” for example.

Step 2: You set a timeline. “I will start next week” or maybe if you are ambitious “I will start tomorrow”

Step 3: You start to plan… this entails setting rules, limitations, regimes, measurements, and the dreaded restrictions!

Step 4: you freak the hell out because you can no longer have foods that you rarely eat anyways and your days will be occupied with cardio and weights so you eat a bag of popcorn, a mug of hot chocolate, and a bowl or 3 of ice cream and sit on the couch until 4am watching the entire third season of big bang theory because you can’t sleep from all the sugar.

Step 5: You may or may not start you diet and be successful but you have introduced a bunch of sugar right beforehand that you will now crave and will make the diet all the harder.

Sound familiar?

Well I’ve tried that approach, I’m not a fan. You know what I am a fan of? Things that work long-term. And yes I fall off the wagon, but it’s about a lifetime of fitness.

So what works for me?

Well I find the exercise part of fitness pretty easy. I like exercise, it makes me feel happy and accomplished. So I start there. I start with what I find easiest and most enjoyable. I get that on track and some things come with it.

The PWO meal

The PWO meal

Once I start exercising I like to get my nutrition timing in check. I hate feeling like I’m not getting the most out of a gruelling workout so I make sure that (depending on my goal) I have a simple carb (like fruit) and a protein shake with extra glutamine right after a workout. I might even include some BCAAs during the workout.

Then I might do some more cardio to go with my workouts because it helps me warm up the muscles and get a better stretch.

And if I’m putting in the effort to do cardio there is NO WAY I am going to waste that effort by eating a bunch of ice cream right after.

Omelette of 1 egg, 1/2 c. egg whites, 1 slice proscuitto, 1 oz. goat cheese, wilted spinach and fresh tomatoes

Omelette of 1 egg, 1/2 c. egg whites, 1 slice prosciutto, 1 oz. goat cheese, wilted spinach and fresh tomatoes

Slowly but surely the pieces fall into place and I have it together. My healthy lifestyle is back on track. My mornings get filled with beautiful omelettes, my sugar intake gets slashed and my protein intake goes way up.

Hello health… I missed you.Do you guys have this problem? What are your strategies for tackling the all of nothing approach?

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5 thoughts on “All or nothing?

  1. The exercise part of the healthy-living equation comes very easily to me, too. I love starting my day with a workout because it sets the tone for the next 24 hours; I feel better physically and mentally when I sweat. 😉 And I’m more likely to make better eating choices if I’ve worked out–don’t want that hard work to go to waste!

    • Morning workouts are awesome, except my bed and blankets have been winning recently. I’ve been doing a lot of after work workouts, but that will have to change as my work days start to get longer. I know some people after a workout feel justified in eating chocolate or whatever. I’m the opposite. If I didn’t workout it’s “well, might as well pack myself with sugar” if I do workout I’m all “I love you protein powder and banana!” I make no sense.

  2. have tried the all or nothing approach as well – big fail. I find if I limit too far or totally exclude certain foods or food groups, I fall very hard off the wagon when I do. everything in moderation and I find I don’t want things as much if I know I can have them if I fit them in. Plus learning how to make things that satisfy my salt/sweet tooth without sacrificing my nutrition (kale chips or protein fluff). I was quite the yo-yo dieter being up and down the same 15 or so lbs. I’m not learning TONS more by reading, researching and seeing what works for me. I’m confident I can keep up this lifestyle – not diet. long term (1 yr) goal – possible competition next November. (yikes – I said it out loud…..)

    • exactly. And wow… thats so exciting! thats about the timeline I had for my competition… well the original timeline was january to may, but I injured myself. I put on a lot of muscle in the process and really liked how my body changed. I can’t wait to hear more about the competition if you do decide to go with it!

  3. I know exactly what you mean, and I’ve done that dance MANY times. I’m 43 now, almost 44 (yikes!) and I have finally found some balance with my diet and exercise routine. To make it a true lifestyle you just have to have that flexibility. I am hardcore some weeks, and a little lax other weeks, but my core strategy remains intact always. It has taken me a long time to get here, so I applaud your ability to recognize how hard it is, and tackle it head on!

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