Mindset is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle, whether you're trying to lose weight, maintain it or improve your overall health and wellness.
Your mindset can either set you up for success, failure or leave you feeling stuck. An 'all or nothing' mindset is a setup for failure.
How many times have you said these things to yourself?
'Well I already ate terribly today, why stop now?'
'This is a stressful week, I'll do better next week'
'I don't feel like going to the gym today, I'll go tomorrow'
Small decisions add up to big results, but also help you maintain them.
It's never a good feeling to have fallen off the wagon or feel like you're stuck. It's disappointing, ruins your motivation and can make you think you're not meant for success. But it's all part of the learning process; when you overcome challenges it helps you prevent them in the future.
Part of the reason our minds get the best of us is because we hold ourselves to high standards; we strive for perfection but often can't live up to it.
I still haven't perfected the way around that for every area of life, but this mindset shift has helped me find success for things I really cared about. I'm a type A perfectionist who's been good at anything I did with passion. There was plenty I wasn't good at, like gymnastics; I'm not the most coordinated person and it's not a passion. There was also a time when I took a painting class because I enjoy art, and one assignment was to paint a photo of a real animal, a lion cub in my case, and mine looked like an asymmetrical, disproportioned, 1 dimensional cartoon while everyone else's looked like a photograph. I was able to brush it off (pun intended) because it wasn't a deep passion of mine so it didn't mean that much. When you feel passionate about something, and it doesn't work out the way you hoped, it hurts on a deeper level.
Health and weight loss are areas of passion for a lot of people. So much of our self worth depends on it and when you feel like the effort you put in isn't good enough or you aren't where you hoped, it's defeating. Many see it as failure and give up.
One mindset shift is to stop seeing things as failure. Redefine failure for yourself. Falling off the wagon isn't failure. Gaining a few pounds isn't failure. Not losing weight as fast as you hoped, isn't failure. Not following an expert's perfect recommendations every single day as you planned to, isn't failure.
What is failure? Giving up. And giving up is easier when you set yourself up for it.
This leads into to the 'Multiple Choice Mindset.' Your odds are always better with more questions on a test. If you get 5 wrong on a 10 question test you fail, but if you get 5 wrong on a 50 question test, you get an A-.
Rather than giving yourself only 2 options, nothing or perfection, give yourself many choices in between. Here are some examples:
A. Eat your perfect amount of calories, no junk food or sugar, low carbs, an abundance of fruits and vegetables, only home cooked meals, every day.
B. Count calories and carbs, eat more fruits and vegetables and home cooked meals through week, less structure on weekends
C. Normal diet but add more veggies to meals
D. Normal diet but no snack at night, or swap one meal/snack for a healthier one
E. Your normal diet, no changes.
A. Do an hour long intense workout + cardio
B. Do 10 minutes of HIIT with some resistance workouts
C. Go for a light jog, or jog/walk cycles
D. Go for a 20 minute walk
E. Do some yoga while you watch TV
F. Save energy for intense workout tomorrow (that keeps being pushed back)
The bolded choices would be the only two in an 'all or nothing mindset' but including the other options in-between eases the tension and makes it seem much more approachable. Even if you stick with it and achieve results with only the two options, how long is that really sustainable? This explains why so many people lose weight and gain it back or fall off the wagon with healthy living.
Small choices and changes over time accumulate to big results that seem effortless. The period of change is sometimes difficult depending on your pace, but once it's routine, it's easy. Change always takes some amount of effort, but it doesn't have to take all you have at once.
Six years into my maintenance lifestyle, I still tweak things and make changes. These changes compound over time. There is no actual end point so what's the rush?
What are ways you can give yourself more options to keep moving forward, get 'unstuck' or make healthy changes more approachable? Let me know in the comments!