The ‘All or Nothing’ way of thinking is the platform of the perfectionist and is the ultimate saboteur. Also known as thinking in black or white, it sets you up from the start to fail and is a very destructive way of moving through life. Competitive athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and really anyone who is goal oriented, have or are at risk of falling prey to this mindset which can land them in a depressive state or a funk. 

So how then do you work yourself out of the funk? Learning to translate situations differently is the key to breaking out of the ‘All or Nothing’ way of thinking cycle.

Here are some suggestions: 

The Funk: Post Contest Blues

Post-contest blues is one example that can negatively affect an ‘All or Nothing’ thinker. When a competitor has been on a strict regimen of dieting and training in preparation for an event, it can make the transition to a post-contest regimen difficult or worse yet, disastrous. The thought of taking a much needed break or down time from training and dieting fosters an “I’m slacking” feeling and can lead to a quick downward spiral if this mindset continues. Some warning signs are: you choose to skip meals or overeat because your contest is over and you don’t know how you should eat now, or you avoid taking your vitamins or don’t go to the gym because the intensity of your training is not as it was. The result is being in a funk.

The Fix: Translate the post-contest phase as part of your training plan. View it as the long-term period in which you will make changes that will help you become an even better athlete. Accept the realization that down time is necessary for giving your body the much needed rest and recovery after the rigors of contest prep. Plan and write down your post-contest intent so that you realize that even if the diet and training is different, you are still an athlete and working towards your goals.

The Funk: Injuries

Injuries can also trip up an All or Nothing thinker. For example if an athlete has an injured knee or pulled muscle, they can’t fathom doing less than what they are use to because to them, it’s just not worth it, so they avoid doing anything at all landing them in a funk.

The Fix: Whether you are in a competitive sport or just love training, injuries will occur. Translate the injury as an opportunity to focus or improve on another aspect of your training. For example, a fitness athlete who has a pulled hamstring cannot perform certain parts of her routine yet that doesn’t mean that she should not perform or train at all. She can capitalize on this opportunity to train to build her core strength, or perfect her choreography and practice her facials, and she can certainly spend time practicing visualization techniques to improve her performance once her injury has healed. Same goes with a sports enthusiast who has knee pain. Instead of feeling as if you have “watered down” your training, plan a different workout. Don’t allow yourself to judge your athletic ability by comparing what you were doing before to what you are limited to doing now. You are injured, there is no comparison. You can still train, it’s just a different way.

The Funk: Falling off the wagon.

One other scenario that can derail an ‘All or Nothing’ thinker is slipping up on their prescribed meal plan. For example, because you gave in to a chocolate bar craving you decide the whole week is a wash so you will just “begin again on Monday” or worse yet continue making bad eating choices since you already “screwed up”. Choosing to behave this way is destructive and will guarantee you a spot in the “funk”.

The Fix: I dare anyone to try to name someone who hasn’t fallen off their meal plan at some point or another. Translate it as, it’s reality. It will happen. The difference will be in how you react to it. Instead of throwing in the towel or allowing yourself to snowball downhill; acknowledge it, own it, pick yourself back up and move on. Get right back onto your meal your next meal...not the next day, next week or next

Breaking the ‘All or Nothing’ cycle might take longer than a few months to shift. It will take persistence, commitment, patience and kindness. Once you ditch the ‘All or Nothing’ or black and white way of thinking and embrace the shades of gray, you will experience an entire spectrum of beauty....called life.

Liza Hughes RN
Lifestyle Coach to Women


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