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Why All or Nothing Doesn’t Work For Me

Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

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  1. Roz@weightingfor50

    Love this Lisa. I’m a big advocate of moderation not deprivation. You are proof positive that 90/10 leads to success. Have a great Monday.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Thanks Roz. That’s what I hope my blog represents: evidence that you can still enjoy food and keep the weight off!

  2. Marc

    HI Lisa Eirene – First…I’d like the glass second from the left please:) I used to be the all or nothing person. Not just with food and drink, but in nearly every aspect of my life. It set me up for a lot of disappointment. I don’t have hard specific rules for life anymore, just guidelines.
    Marc recently posted..Healthy snacks – sorry they fooled you

    1. Lisa Eirene

      A dark beer man, eh?

      I agree with you about setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment. I am experiencing that a lot lately and need to change my thinking so that I don’t get disappointed. It’s definitely a hard habit to break.

  3. Samantha (@Brownie8727)

    Yes! I have a HUGE problem with the all-or-nothing mindset. Most recently, this can be seen in my 3 week vegan/veggie challenge, as it came to a crushing halt Saturday evening. When I don’t stick with the plan I’ve got set in my mind, I feel like I’ll never achieve my goals, and why am I even trying. Remembering to roll with the punches and compromise is helping me conquer this problem one day at a time!!
    Samantha (@Brownie8727) recently posted..Weekend Detox Recap and My Yoga Goals

    1. Lisa Eirene

      YES!!! I think a lot of people that decide Jan 1st is when they will start to lose weight get discouraged and end up quitting before the end of January because they have set unrealistic expectations. Like, why not vow to do a vegetarian/vegan night 3 days a week instead of every day? Then if that’s successful switch it to 4 days a week and so on. Instead of giving up completely for ONE BAD DAY, keep going!!!

  4. Valerie B

    Just a couple days ago I decided to start a list of the small steps I am taking everyday to live healthier and eat better. I am listing things like “tracked all of my food today, even chocolate chip cookies,” “had a large glass of water before finding a snack,” “threw away leftover Christmas candy,” and things like that. I am hoping it will remind me to make small changes all day long, and also encourage me when I fall off track.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      That’s a great idea. I once saw a blogger keep a journal of all the foods she DIDN’T eat. Like “today I wanted to eat 4 cookies and some ice cream for lunch but I didn’t” and it showed her what she overcame.

  5. Daphne @ Daphne Alive

    I used to be an “all or nothing” girl. I lost 80lbs doing that.. and then re-gained 40lbs when I realized it wasn’t realistic and I wasn’t addressing the emotional part. Now I listen to my body and mind everyday and make decisions based on that.
    Daphne @ Daphne Alive recently posted..Wedding dress shopping in Calgary

    1. Lisa Eirene

      The emotional part plays a huge part of it. I didn’t address any of the emotional aspects of obesity and weight loss until after I lost my weight. In a way I am still addressing the issues. It’s hard.

  6. julie

    I love moderation, all or nothing backfires always, in every way. I have a friend who yo-yos, and he says he can’t do anything not extremely. He goes low-carb, then gives up and has a huge pizza plus two beers for lunch every day. I ask why not one beer, a large salad, a small pizza, but he doesn’t do that sort of eating. So he loses 75, gains 80, etc.

    Makes my head spin. It seems a lot of people really don’t like moderation, and their attitude seems to be that since they can’t make it work, it works for nobody. I’m sorry, good thing we’re all different.
    julie recently posted..No thanks

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Great point! I have a friend who does the same thing–the diet is always going to start “next week” and she gains and loses and gains even more back. It has to be frustrating and at some point these people just give up and stop caring or trying. It really doesn’t have to be that way! I’m proof!!

  7. Esther

    Wow, this post puts a lot into perspective for me. I was previously a very all or nothing kinda person, but I am working on turning that around, especially this year.

    Kicking ass and taking names, one step at a time!
    Esther recently posted..FO: Clematis Cozy Cable Hat

    1. Lisa Eirene

      I’m so glad this post spoke to you!

  8. Jess

    Awesome advice. It is exactly what I tell people who are starting their weight loss journey!

    I was an all or nothing person. I tried to lose weight many times and I ended up burnt out and angry because I wasn’t ‘allowed’ a cookie or cake or whatever. Cue binging and failure. This time around I have been much more lax with myself. I probably follow more of an 80/20 plan. I have lost weight slowly (40lb in a year) but I have stuck to it. It helps to know I CAN have a cookie, I just have to decide if I actually WANT one. And the answer is usually no, which is fine because if I want one tomorrow I can have one. You always want what you can’t have, and by removing that factor I found I don’t want bad foods very often, or if I do they aren’t in huge amounts.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      I am so glad to hear it worked for you! I think your attitude is great.

      I also lost weight slowly–almost 2 years. I don’t regret it taking that long because I never once felt deprived. I did eat treats and things I wanted (for the most part) just in smaller portions. Had I eliminated everything “Bad” from my diet I probably would have lost it faster–but I’d be miserable. And probably gain it back!

      Thanks for the comment, Jess.

  9. Deb

    I am so guilty of all or nothing thinking, and not just in my weight loss, but in every single thing I do. I either have zero interest in whatever it is, or I am completely obsessed with it, and as so many people have said, it does not work long term. Leaving that mindset is something I am working on, but its tough. I backslid over the holidays, but even when I screwed up, I did NOT just throw in the towel and give up til another day. Those days weren’t great, but they weren’t “nothing” days either- a change I’d like to see in the future when slip ups happen.
    Deb recently posted..FMM – Simple Questions

    1. Lisa Eirene

      I understand Deb, I’m kind of the same way. When I get into something I go all-in and can get obsessed. Don’t beat yourself up about the holiday backslide. You’ll get back at it this month!

  10. Ali @ Peaches and Football

    Definitely guilty of all or nothing here! I’ve found I do better with small short-term goals. If I tell myself exactly what to do and have a specific time frame, I’m more likely to stick with it the entire time. Telling myself to diet until I lose XX number of pounds NEVER works because I get discouraged and give up. But you’re absolutely right – it’s the small changes that add up over time if we stick with them and lead to a healthier lifestyle.
    Ali @ Peaches and Football recently posted..Cookie Monsters

    1. Lisa Eirene

      YES! Having small, short-term goals works so much better for me. And having a date works even better.

  11. Sara

    I definitely have all or nothing mindsets! I was more so when I first started losing weight but recently have figured out it doesn’t have to be that way. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist so when things don’t go perfectly I get upset and tend to give up. Finally, after much trial and error, things started to click. I finally realized just this winter/holiday that I can still squeeze in my normal routines and it will actually help me handle stressful situations better than thinking ‘oh forget it! I can’t do it if I’m not at home in my normal routine!’ Finally I decided to be confident in doing what I knew would help me stay healthy and realized it’s not only do-able but it’s easy to fit in! I found many ways to sneak in fruits/veggies while away for christmas week and not just give in to every single treat I saw. I chose which treats I really wanted and wouldn’t have the rest of the year. I found ways to stay active and not disrupt family time. I found ways to keep to my normal habits of tracking my food which gave me a huge perspective on days when I was eating a few too many cookies. I still got to indulge and enjoy the Holidays but I didn’t just give up. And that is HUGE for me! I finally found compromise within my perfectionist mindset and realized I can do this long term! Stress and special events will happen all the time but it’s learning how to enjoy those moments without thinking all health is hopeless that has made a huge difference. It’s helped me bounce back to my regular routine so much faster, too! Life is more consistent and less dramatic.
    Sara recently posted..Horsey Christmas!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      I’m so glad you found a way to “Calm down” and make things work. I agree that some form of exercise is a great stress-reliever.

  12. I ❤ 2 Eat

    Great post, Lisa! Enjoyed reading your posts as I haven’t been able to blog hop for a few days. I’ve been an all or nothing thinker for as long as I can remember. That’s why I’m also the perpetual beginner my husband talks about so often. Sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. I just need to not give up completely when things go downhill – that’s the hardest part for me, but I’m working on it!
    I ❤ 2 Eat recently posted..Mustard Power Part 1: Trial and Error Mustard Fish

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