All or Nothing Thinking

Does this sound familiar to you?
Exercise schedule says strength train MWF, running TThSu.
Training diary looks like this:
Monday: Nailed it. Felt great.
Tuesday: Good run, glad to be back at it! Woot!
Wednesday: Meeting at work ran late, didn’t get lunch OR chance to go to gym.
Thursday: Never mind. This will never work. Why did I start this again? FML.
Have you seen this, perhaps written by your own hand? This type of scenario is VERY familiar to me, and it falls squarely into the “All or Nothing” way of thinking/acting/doing. What does that mean? Here, lemme ‘splain…

All or nothing refers to the thought process that you either have to do something 100% or not at all. Right in line with “black and white” thinking (things are either good or bad, nothing in between), all or nothing thinking can get you into a bad health situation quickly. While there are several downfalls (drinking, sleeping, eating, etc.) I will just be talking about exercise and what we can try to do to avoid the all or nothing trap. I have yet to master it, but I have a lot of experience with being here.
I’ll set up some workouts for myself, get all gung-ho about getting them done, feel accomplished for having done 2 or 3 in a row, then miss several, for various reasons (which may include ACTUAL reasons, but mostly EXCUSES). Then I say, “screw it” for several months before trying to get back into it again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Thing is, though, that SOME exercise is better than NONE. True story. We need to allow ourselves to fall down, to not be 100% perfect with our workouts. One of the keys to success here is flexibility. “No, not thaaaaaat.”no, not thaaaat

I mean with your program. If there are days when you simply cannot workout (they exist!), cut yourself some slack and make plans to either catch up with it on another day, or just pick up where you left off. For example, when I miss a run day, I go back into the strength day, not into the run day. This helps keep the schedule on track. This type of flexibility and self-forgiveness is very important to a successful program and improved health, especially for the beginner or returning athlete. Far too often we fall into the all or nothing trap, to emerge later even less healthy than we were when we (re)started. Allowing for some wiggle room will help prevent capture and keep your head clear as you move forward toward your health goals.

Do you have anything that you use to either keep yourself on track or to help manage the times when you fall into the all or nothing thinking trap? Please share below!!

Be well,

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