Letting go of the all or nothing approach to health
How letting go of extreme health approaches will improve your health and life
The Western World has become used to excess.
We swing between both ends of the extremes:
- Restrictive diets to punish ourselves for a stretch of non-hungry eating
- Swearing off all alcohol for Feb Fast or Ocsober, only to participate in huge drinking sessions for the remainder of the year
- Dangerous exercise regimes to make up for long days sitting at work
- Ignoring our hunger signals to do penance for ignoring our fullness signals
- Entering a marathon with little to no training in order to ‘get fit’
- Rushing around all week ticking off To Do lists only to collapse on the couch all weekend
- Signing up for 30 days of yoga in a row to make up for 6 months complete inactivity
- Making Mondays all about dieting when weekends were all about bingeing
If we embraced moderation a little more in our lives we wouldn’t feel the need to turn to weight loss challenges, diets, extreme punishing exercise, or ‘detoxes’ to “make up for” our lifestyle.
The act of quitting foods we love wouldn’t have the same draw.
If we truly listened to our own bodies and minds we could pay attention to what foods, activities and level of busyness feels good for us psychologically and physically, and make small adjustments as needed.
Instead of guiltily swinging between the ‘all or nothing’ extremes, we could mindfully make small tweaks in a constant sustainable practice.
We would no longer oscillate between shame and vainglory, guilt and righteousness. We’d no longer fear particular foods as the ‘undoing’ of our health, they’d just be a tiny part of the big picture of what we eat.
We could make our own health decisions without comparison or judgement and without the need to be ‘right’ or ‘the best’.
We could support others to find their own balance, without feeling like it reflects on our own. Health would no longer be a contest played out on Instagram, but an individual journey that looks different for everyone.
Swinging between these extremes is emotionally exhausting, unsustainable and can be detrimental to your health. Is there a perfect balance that will stay the same all the time? No. It’s a practice. A work in progress that will change all the time for you. But thinking of it as little tweaks rather than life makeovers will be a good starting point.
Pay attention to any feelings of: guilt, shame, comparison, inadequacy, restriction, anxiety, judgement and righteousness around eating, exercise, and your body. Could you embrace more moderation and middle ground in your life and let go of some extremes? What is the draw to extremes for you? Asking yourself the questions and carefully listening for your own answers can be incredibly helpful.