Why All or Nothing Doesn’t Work For Me


There was a time when I had an “all or nothing” point of view on life. I was 250 pounds, starting to swim a few times a week and I decided I was going to start counting my calories in order to lose 100 pounds. Because I had lived so long without doing either of those things, I had to change my habits and thinking in pretty drastic ways in order for it to work.

I knew that I had to eat less than 2,000 calories a day in order to lose the weight; which was a big change from eating 5,000+ calories a day! In order to do this, I wrote down everything I ate. I quickly discovered I was going to have to be more discriminating in my food choices if I was going to stay under 2,000 calories.

Because of this, I had an all-or-nothing attitude about food. I was GOING TO eat less than 2,000 calories a day. I WAS NOT going to eat my trigger foods (pizza, ice cream) until I lost the weight. This meant I did not eat pizza for almost two years. I also stopped drinking my calories for nearly two years. Yep, that meant no wine, beer, daiquiris, juice or regular soda! This is very much an all-or-nothing mind-frame.

I also had that mind-frame about exercise. I had a set schedule for my swimming and I did not want to deviate from that. Part of that was probably a fear that if I did take a day off, that I’d completely fall off the wagon and stop exercising. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t somewhere in the back of mind even today.

But this rigidness is difficult to maintain forever. And I didn’t maintain it forever. After reaching goal weight and keeping it off for 4+ years now, I have loosened my rigidness a bit. I started eating pizza again and drinking alcohol on occasion.

90/10 Rule

I adopted what I call the “90/10 Rule”–this means that I count my calories and I eat healthy, but I still allow myself the treats that I want. If I’m craving a cookie, and I have enough calories in my “Bank” left for the day, I eat that cookie! While I was losing weight, I did not. I practiced great self-restraint and tried my best not to eat the “Bad Foods.”


Practicing this rule has helped me stay SANE, keep the weight OFF and enjoy whatever I want in moderation. Even BEER!


I bring up the all-or-nothing attitude because I think it sets us up for failure. Yes, it worked for me to some extent but like I said, I couldn’t do it forever. I changed my lifestyle to a healthy one, but one that allows for slip-ups, allows for treats, and doesn’t have room for shaming if I make a mistake.

How many of you have decided that on Monday you are going to start your diet? So you spend all weekend binge eating on all of the junk food you’re going to deny yourself. Then Monday comes and either you feel so beaten down by the idea of restricting your food or you decide you CAN’T do it (“I don’t have the willpower”), so you don’t even try. You give up on the goal of losing weight and getting healthy.

We’ve all done it. I know it.

The same thing goes for setting unrealistic goals. Instead of saying “I’m going to lose 100 pounds!” why not try “I will lose 20 pounds in three months” instead? I certainly didn’t set out to lose 100 pounds! That number was huge in my mind. 50 pounds seemed easier.

How Not To Fail

How do you prevent that? First, I would stop with the “the diet starts on Monday” mentality. Start today. Start this moment. Decline that homemade fudge from your coworker, or deep fried happy hour food with friends. Start today making one small change. Instead of “I’m giving up all unhealthy food and just eating SALAD!” try cutting out the unhealthy foods one by one.

“Today I will have soup and a salad for lunch and not pizza.”

“Today I will bring an apple to work for an afternoon snack.”

“Today I will drink more water instead of soda.”

Choose something small. Choose something you can commit to. Don’t set yourself up for failure before you even start! So what about the exercise?

The same goes for fitness. If you’re just starting out, DO NOT say “I’m going to workout for an hour every single day this week!” God, that sounds exhausting and I haven’t even set one foot inside the gym! Instead, why not try this:

“Today I will walk to the library instead of driving.”

“Tomorrow I will go for a walk during my lunch break instead of eating at a restaurant.”

“Today I will go to the gym for 20 minutes and use the elliptical.”

Easy. Small. Baby steps. Set small goals and then reward yourself when you succeed (don’t use food as a reward!). Don’t beat yourself up if tomorrow comes and you haven’t made it to the gym yet. Take your dog or kids for a walk around the block instead and congratulate yourself for getting off the couch.


You have to start somewhere.

QUESTION: Are you an all-or-nothing thinker? How do you change that? 

Once a Year…

…once a year I indulge. This is the epitome of my 90/10 Rule. Moderation, moderation, splurge once in awhile. The last weekend of July is the Oregon Brewfest. I started going a few years ago, after meeting Michael, and it’s a great time. Beer tasting is my splurge. And I want the good stuff! Not this:

This year, I took a half day off work so I could meet up with my friends at the Brewfest. I rode my bike to work that morning but luckily I could leave my stuff in my cubicle and just walk down to the waterfront.

I took a detour that added a few miles to my commute and a few more calories to my workout:

My total mileage for the week: 62.42. Still nowhere close to 100. Oh well. It was still a good week of biking. So after work, I walked down to meet all my friends that were partaking in Brewfest. We started going on Thursdays a few years ago because Fridays were insanely crowded; so crowded you couldn’t really move around through the tents and some of the breweries even ran out of beer!

It seems as though everyone else got the memo that Thursdays were the better day to go because it was packed this year. And it started early. I got off work and got to the waterfront about 1 and the lines were already forming. I met up with my friend Robyn and her mom (who is a total firecracker!) and some friends and eventually Michael met up with us with his group of friends.

Usually I want to eat lunch right away but I got sucked into hanging out with friends and sampling beers and before I knew it, I was feeling tipsy and realized I hadn’t eaten anything in hours! I wandered around a bit and ended up with a Sambusa at the African food cart. It was a little pastry filled with things like lentils and chicken, veggies and African spices. It was absolutely delicious! I dipped it in the sweet cucumber sauce (I totally want to find a recipe to make this at home). It was a great lunch.

In the past, I approached the Brewfest as a way to discover new beers I liked and I sampled everything I could. (1 token is $1 or so,a full mug is 4 tokens but I rarely ever get a full mug). This year? I didn’t really do that. Maybe I’m getting old or maybe I just know what I like. But I skipped the beers I knew I probably wouldn’t enjoy and stuck to the IPA style beers at each trailer.

Let’s start with the beers I did NOT like. Cascade Brewery Razberry Wheat –it’s there every year and every year I try it and still don’t like it, when will I learn? Old Market Pub and Brewery Cherried Alive–a cross between too sweet and too sour. Paradise Creek Brewery Dirty Blonde–I just don’t like the taste of blondes or lighter beers, which brings me to Logsdon Farmhouse Ales Kili Wit–YUCK! I’ve mentioned many times that I LOVE Ninkasi Beer (Tricerahops and Total Domination are my favorite beers right now) but the Lady of Avalon they brought to the brewfest was a disgusting, dark, hoppy, malty, coffee thing that I took one taste of and passed on to my friend Robyn!

Sometimes the best part about brewfest is the people watching and not necessarily the beer. There were a lot of people in costumes, half of which I didn’t really understand. I wish I had gotten more pictures of the people because it was entertaining. For example: there were some Franciscan monks, many, many men in lederhosen and short shorts a la The Sound of Music. There was a guy dressed up in a white NASA space suit wearing a Planet of the Apes-type mask…pretty much anything you can think of was there.

Now the good stuff…Here are a few beers that I enjoyed:

Red Rock Brewing – Red Rock Elephino Double IPA: I could enjoy a full mug of this, but maybe not two. It was good but not especially memorable.

Dunedin Brewery – IPA Chronicle: FL-Oregon Trail: A little sweeter than I’m used to, but I liked it.

Hale’s Ales Brewery – Supergoose IPA: It’s a nice floral, fruity IPA.

Kona Brewing – Big Wave Golden Ale: for a blonde ale, it was really good. I had this when I first got to the event and it was a nice, mild, smooth beer to start the afternoon with.

The Winners:

Flying Fish Brewery – Exit 16 Wild Rice IPA: So it sounds weird…beer fermented in rice? But it was my absolute favorite of the day. I loved the super, super hoppy flavor and the crisp citrus taste that teased my tongue. This one I could have had a full mug of!

Terminal Gravity Brewing – X IPA: This was my second favorite beer. It was an amber colored beer, not too dark of an IPA, and very pleasant to drink. The hops weren’t outrageous.

Omission Brewing – Pale Ale: I had no idea this was a Widmer beer or gluten-free but I loved it! I wish I had discovered it before the end of the day when I was done drinking.

The day was hot, not as hot as it had been in past years but very warm and we sought out shade as much as possible and tried to stay under the tents when we could, even though the noise level was a cacophony  of everything you could think of. I bought a giant pretzel from the Gustav’s stands and shared it with some friends.

Thankfully the bread soaked up some of my samples and I spent the last hour just catching up with my friends and hanging out. The tents had become to crowded anyways.

Finally, Michael and I decided to call it a night (or afternoon, whatever). Both of us had had our fill and wanted to get home out of the sun. It was a fun day with good food and good beer. It’s a once a year treat that I look forward to and enjoy every time!

QUESTION: Is there any annual event in your town that you don’t miss?