Are you an “all or nothing” type of person? It’s linked to perfectionism and to guilt behaviors, neither of which are helpful mindsets when you’re trying to improve your fitness level and your health. Discover how to overcome the all or nothing mentality in eating and fitness.


Imagine a girl who’s on a diet— I’ll call her Erica. Erica has been so good, carefully maintaining strict eating habits.

One day, she’s out with friends and she just can’t resist eating a heavier lunch than she should— maybe a big dish of pasta and a decadent piece of pie.

“Well,” she says, “I really messed up. My diet is already ruined today — so I’ll just keep splurging and then I’ll start my diet again tomorrow or on Monday.”

Sound familiar? The underlying reasoning here is that if you can’t do it perfectly, you’re not doing it at all.

If you can’t manage to eat a perfectly healthy and balanced diet every day, then why even try?

Perhaps when Erica breaks her diet, she then compensates by being extremely strict with what she can eat when she does start her diet again.

She practically starves herself (and deprives herself!) to make up for the overindulgence…. Until she breaks her diet again.

Then the cycle starts over.

how to overcome the all or nothing mentality in eating and fitness


It’s not easy to pull yourself out of this mindset and realize that it’s OK if you mess it – it will happen.

Nobody can ever be 100% perfect ALL the time. If you strive for extreme perfection, you’re already setting yourself up to fail.

Here are some tips to help you change your thinking.

Practice Self-Control

This is a tough one, but is probably the most important one to master!

Should you have that huge piece of cake? Probably not.

But if you do eat it, do you have to give up and keep binging for the rest of the day (or week), or do you have to punish yourself by severely restricting your food intake for days?

Maybe instead of indulging in a large piece of cake, you could have a smaller one. Continue with your regular healthy diet the rest of the day, but avoid adding extra indulgences.

And don’t punish yourself for the cake! It was a treat, you had it, don’t let it ruin you.

When you take a small piece, you’re saying “yes” to your desire to have some cake and “no” to your craving for excess. It’s all about balance and self-control.

how to overcome the all or nothing mentality in eating and fitness

Eat What Tastes Good

Too often, people are tempted to splurge because their “diet” is so unsatisfactory. They’re sick of egg whites, lettuce, chicken and broccoli — and rightly so!

Eating healthy shouldn’t mean that you only eat bland, boring food. Life is too short for that, girls! There are plenty of food choices that are healthy and delicious!

Experiment with low-calorie, healthy foods and various ways to prepare them.

When you discover a fave healthy recipe or low-calorie substitute, add it to your list. Eventually, you’ll discover a way of eating that you can stick with all the time.

For some, that might mean dressing up a salad with some bacon bits or adding real butter to veggies.

For others, it might mean including 1-2 desserts each week. It’s really up to you!how to overcome the all or nothing mentality in eating and fitness

Be Satisfied with Your Efforts

Maybe you didn’t reach your workout goals this week.

You didn’t run as long as you meant to, or you skipped a day altogether. Does that mean you just scratch the whole week off as a failure and skip the rest of your workouts, too? No, ma’am!

Doing something is always better than doing nothing.

Suppose you walked instead of running (actually, in some cases, walking is even better than running), shortened your workout, or did two days of exercise instead of three.

At least you weren’t sitting around during those 20-minute or 30-minute periods!

Refuse to slide into the guilt pit, and don’t drive yourself to exhaustion with makeup exercise.

Instead, acknowledge the benefits of what you did accomplish, and do a little better next time.

Anything you do to make your life better has value.

A few yoga poses in the afternoon (yoga is very beneficial), a bit of meditation on your lunch break, a low-carb wrap instead of pasta, a 20-minute walk, or an earlier bedtime— it all matters. All those little efforts add up to a healthier, stronger you!

Don’t “Diet”

The most important tip of them all!

If you think you are on a “diet”, you will automatically restrict foods and label foods as “good” and “bad”.

I find that diets can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and can lead to the all or nothing mentality (including binge eating!).

Never go on a diet – just clean up your eating. Make sure no foods are off limits.

Focus on fruit, veggies, and whole foods, rather than processed carbs and sugar. You can still eat these, but just occasionally.

I like to save my splurges for when I don’t have control over my food.

So for example, if I’m going out for dinner and drinks with friends – I’ll allow myself to eat whatever I want.

However, if you still want to be mindful of what you’re eating, read my blog post on eating in a restaurant.

When I do have control over my foods (i.e. when I’m cooking at home), I’ll try to eat healthy.

So, these were my tips on how to overcome the all or nothing mentality in eating and fitness.

I hope you have found these tips helpful! If you have any other useful advice, please feel free to share in the comments. xx

One Response

  1. This is amazing :) but I believe I’m not the kind who feels satisfied with a bit. I mean full stops don’t exist in my dictionary which is why I cut it out all together. No infinite loop of guilt either. But I know it’s not good and I don’t know how to get out of it.

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