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  • Writer's pictureKris Wilkins

It's All or Nothing

Updated: Apr 24, 2021

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar.

You know how you are eating now is costing you your health but you feel like there isn't anything you can change at the moment.

Life is too busy and changing anything feels just too hard right now.

Plus healthy food is so expensive, right?

Despite it all, you know that if you just ate a bit better you’d have more energy to do things, so you get a new diet book or nutrition plan and you go full force starting Monday!

After all, successful diets always start on MONDAY!!

But by the 3rd, 4th or 5th week of totally overhauling ALL of your eating habits and buying all the latest supplements and healthy superfoods, you find yourself saying ‘well, I’ll just go through the drive-thru this one time....I deserve a cheat day. I’ll get back on track tomorrow“

One time turns into two, then three. All of a sudden you’re back to doing the same things you were doing before you started your diet.

Along comes shame and guilt to the failure party. (How did this happen? I suck!), banishing all of your feelings of accomplishment.

But don’t worry! Here comes determination to the rescue! You're no quitter!

So you decide this Monday no more excuses!

You double down and 'get serious' this time. You start on the same plan, convinced that THIS time is different. YOU'RE different.

It’s not the plan that’s the problem - it’s you! You just need to focus on this 100 % and it will be great!...

Until 100% becomes 80%...then 40% and the pattern repeats. You feel like you have failed because you are not 100% nailing it again.

What if YOU are NOT the problem. What if your method is? It seriously doesn’t have to be 100% or 0%!

1% progress is still progress.

All or nothing thinking is sneaky. It robs you of your ability to act.

We often think that we think on a spectrum, but as soon as we come up against making changes to our personal habits, the either/or, black and white monster rears its ugly head. We focus on the failure - 'I just wasn't disciplined enough'

Instead of seeing all the things that did work and consistently doing those things.

Maybe cooking dinner every night doesn't make sense. But you did a great job cooking 3 days per week and felt great eating homemade food.

That's 42% better than you were doing before the diet, and you throw that success out when you decide you 'failed'.

Learning to spot this type of resistance is key to developing the nuanced problem solving that will help you make meaningful changes instead of repeating the same patterns over and over.

When looking to make a change in how we eat and our daily routines we often go too big, too quickly. Resulting in feeling like you've failed or there are no options that will work for you.

Or we fixate on something we perceive as bad and that we can't change right now as a barrier to ANY change at all, such as making dinner every night due to a lack of time.

Moving your eating and fitness along a spectrum, not off a cliff is the answer to sustainable changes.

Learning the tools that help you find ways around even the trickiest of obstacles and the tightest of schedules is what I do here.

Let’s say you are struggling with making healthy dinners every night. You just don’t have the time to cook a full healthy meal and you are really confused about what exactly a healthy meal looks like, since there is so much conflicting information out there. How many Superfoods do you have to eat per day to be healthy anyway??

There are 3 misleading all or nothing assumptions that I commonly hear:

  1. Superfoods are exotic, expensive and difficult to acquire

  2. Dinner must be exciting, elaborate and cooked

  3. You must make ALL dinners from scratch with organic ingredients or you might as well go to chick fil a

Let’s debunk those 3 myths.

Myth 1: Superfoods are exotic, expensive and difficult to acquire

ALL foods are super.

This statement makes at least 2 faulty assumptions:

1. 'Superfoods' are necessary to improve your health and fitness.

2. 'Superfoods' must be exotic and therefore difficult to find.

Here is a SUPER colorful chart of fruits and veggies that are all high in nutrient density.

The truth is....

All vegetables are super!!!!

Yes, even lettuce.

Especially when you work to get a bunch of different colors on your plate throughout the week. Which means you can buy things like carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and eggs knowing that you are feeding yourself 'superfoods'. You can even cherry pick (har har) your favorites of each color and achieve the variety of nutrients you need by picking one from each color group.

Here’s a chart that can help you see the cost effectiveness of everyday superhero foods:

Myth 2: Dinner must be exciting, elaborate and cooked....every day

Free yourself!

All of these constraints are making your life harder when what you really need is some fuel for your super human machine so you can keep doing the awesome stuff you do everyday.

I’m going to say something crazy…..

Maybe dinner doesn't have to be cooked!

And it definitely doesn't have to Gordon Ramsey worthy every night, unless you like soup salted with the tears of despair.

I’m not saying that when you have time and energy to create a beautiful meal that you shouldn’t

What if you just put a protein, some veggies and some carbs on a plate and called it good? They can even be basic staples that most of us will have available either fresh or frozen.

Rather than awesome perfect dinner or take out, we have found a middle ground: 1 Meets nutrition needs

2 Is already in house

3 Takes less time

4 Tastes good

Here’s an example of nutritionally balanced meals you can make with basic ingredients in 10mns or less. Feel free to mix and match! Anything goes.

Protein Veggies Carbs Fat


Eggs Baby carrots Slice of whole 1/2 Avocado

grain toast

Rotisserie chicken Cherry tomatoes Whole grain rice 1tbsp Olive Oil

1/2 Cup of beans Frozen peas Potatoes 1tbsp Nut butter 4oz lean ground turkey Cucumbers Sweet Potato 1tbsp Butter *Grass Fed

Feel free to add herb, spices and other favorite flavors to your meals. Here are a few options and their benefits to get your mouth watering

They can only help make your fast, cheap meals even tastier and add an extra boost of nutrients at the same time.

Check out Precision Nutrition’s super handy meal builder infographic for a more in depth look at this strategy in action:

Myth 3:

You must make ALL dinners from scratch with organic ingredients or you might as well go to chick fil a

This is a textbook example of all or nothing thinking and it can be really hard to spot!

But once you start seeing the opportunities for thinking on a spectrum, in difficult situations, it’s like you develop a change superpower!

First let’s talk about how a small daily choice can impact you.

Take a look at the impact a Latte a day can have on your waistline if there isn't room in your energy expense account:

Starbucks Grande Vanilla Latte=250 kcal (12% of 2000 kcal)

250x5= 1,250 kcal/week

1,250x52= 65,000 kcal/year

65,000/3500= 18.5 lbs/year

One small choice can really add up!

You can use this principle in reverse and eliminate 1 latte (or fast food run) per day or even week, you could lose up to 20lbs/year!!

Now is this precise science? No. And your individual results from this one small change may vary but simply changing your daily brew to a plain coffee with milk and sugar can drop you intake all the way to 50cal/day.

When we apply this idea to the typical diet plan, it literally asks you to change everything at once (we even include a shopping list!!! So you can buy completely different things than normal!) And it’s so different from our pre diet habits that it takes a lot of energy. Energy we may not be able to consistently apply to this one aspect of our lives. So we decide to quit and just go back to the status quo, leaving us stuck.

Thinking on a spectrum gets us out of this trap!

This strategy actually works for any changes you want to make even outside of health and fitness. So rather than tackling your diet all at once, starting Monday, what if you just started with one more home cooked meal this week? Maybe you even make a double batch so you can eat it for more than one meal? Or swapping out that latte for a regular coffee?

The power of incremental change is real and it is sustainable!

So here’s the challenge:

Think on a spectrum: the more nuanced the better!

Challenge yourself to make the actions feel like they are so easy that they don’t feel like change at all! And then keep going

What is one meal you can make at home from now on? Just one. When you’ve mastered that, pick a new one.

And if you are already making most of your meals at home, how can you eat better quality or higher nutrient density food? Just swap out an ingredient, one ingredient and voila you have made change happen!

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