An All-or-Nothing mindset looks through the lens of On or Off, Black or White. Moderation can feel like a kind of failure. But the thing is, All-or-Nothing always leads to “nothing.” There’s just no way to be perfectly on-plan 100% of the time. That’s just unrealistic.
If you want to have any hope of hanging on to your results, you need to find a strategy that allows for a bit of indulgence from time to time and room for slip-ups without feeling guilty or beating up on yourself afterwards. Circumstances will never be ideal, so having practice with moderation will keep you lean year-round and free up vital mental space for more important stuff (like Game of Thrones!).
It is so easy to get caught up in that mindset though, so I don’t blame anyone for being stuck in that vicious cycle. Social media and even the fitness industry itself would have us believe that all it takes to be a successful dieter is discipline. “Suck it up.” “No excuses.” “Just do it.” However, I find this way of thinking severely lacking. There’s no wiggle room for the unexpected. It leaves us feeling dejected and like a failure when we can’t comply 100% of the time. It just doesn’t work!
Going from no discipline to iron-clad discipline overnight just doesn’t happen, as much as we wish it would. All the motivational quotes in the world won’t help us when we have a crazy ridiculous craving for ice cream late at night or a glass (or three!) of wine after a rough day. A practice of moderation and preemptive cheats can help prevent these in the first place or at least lessen their hold on us.
Preemptive cheats, a term coined by Jill Coleman of JillFit Physiques, is a food that, while not completely in alignment with one’s goals, is a healthy-enough alternative to a full-on binge. Instead of a cheat day or massive cheat meal or unplanned binge episode that triggers feelings of guilt and frustration, completely derailing progress, consider a strategy of enjoying a small indulgence each day. This can keep you sane, satisfied, and on track long-term, which is the ultimate goal. Imagine having long-lasting results that are maintained with relative ease. How good would that feel?
It’s the perfectionistic tendencies and strict food rules that lead to slip-ups which can then turn into full-on binges. And guilt isn’t far behind.
I have been there more times than I would like to admit. A binge (which I define here as an instance (usually unplanned) of overeating to the point of feeling sick or extreme bloating) would usually have me feeling upset at myself for giving in so easily and going overboard. This would be followed by a resolve to get back on point with my diet the next day to make up for it. Which would inevitably lead to another slip-up or binge.
It’s a vicious cycle that leaves us feeling defeated time after time. So useless. It’s a tough place to be, don’t get me wrong. We all know better, but it’s just so hard to change that mindset. Besides, we want all the results RIGHT NOW! ;-)
But I say perfection is overrated! Believe me, I am a Type A Perfectionist all the way to my core, and it isn’t easy for me to go gentle on myself when I slip up. It is a constant battle for me, but I work on it and get a little better each day. Putting some of that focus on my qualities as a person, outside of the gym and what my body looks like, has been key.
All we can do is our best each day with what we have. Our best will look different each day, depending on what life throws at you and how you are feeling (physically and emotionally). So throw yourself a bone and learn to get comfortable with being somewhere in the middle between complete abandon and obsessive mindfulness.
It will take some time, but it's worth it. Fat loss does not have to equal complete misery.