Does making lists like these looks familiar to you?
- I have to eat 80 grams of protein every day
- I have to take my vitamins every day
- I have to drink my water even though I can barely hold it down
- I have to exercise 5 days a week
- I have to keep my solids and liquid separate
- I have to cook myself dinner every day
- I have to meal prep for the week ahead
- I have to lose weight every week
- I have to do better
- I have to do better
- I have to be better
If the answer is “YES” then keep on reading as we’re going to share our most valuable insight on ditching the all-or-nothing mindset after bariatric surgery. So that you can create long lasting habits and celebrate your milestones (yes, also the ones that seem insignificant at first glance).
First, we’ll explain what the “all-or-nothing” mindset can look like. Next, we’ll dive deeper into how you can turn this mindset around. A more flexible mindset to support your life-long journey after bariatric surgery. And make sure to keep reading until the end of this post, as we have something tangible for you to keep the momentum of habit change going. You’re in for a treat, so let’s begin!
But first, what is the all-or-nothing mindset exactly?
The term “all-or-nothing” is pretty straightforward on its own, right?
It’s either giving your all (“success”). Or being left with nothing at all (“failure”).
When breaking down the all-or-nothing mindset, it really all boils down to two opposites of a spectrum:
On one end there’s EVERYTHING GREAT (accomplished goals, all the wins, all of your success) – and on the other end you’ll find an imaginary box where all of failure and misery is buried – when you didn’t meet your goals consistently.
Now, here’s the problem.
Life happens (like all the time!). In this world, it’s completely unrealistic to base your outcomes on maintaining this all-or-nothing mentality. Because life is never an all-or-nothing ordeal. There’s nuance everywhere – and that rigid mindset doesn’t take that into account. At all.
Some days you feel good. Some days you don’t.
Some days you have tons of energy. Some days you’re drained.
Some days work is demanding. Some days you can catch a break.
And all of these life events impact your state of mind. They impact your thoughts. They impact how much time you have left in a day. They impact your energy levels. Simply put, life happens and you’re not always in control of the things happening to you.
Having a rigid mindset isn’t going to be helpful here. Not before and also not after bariatric surgery.
What you need is to grant yourself flexibility. And a new mindset that supports that flexibility too.
Ditching the all-or-nothing mindset doesn’t mean sliding down a slippery slope
Just typing out the list in the introduction gave so much pressure on its own (just read it back for the sake of it – and you’ll see that it’s quite A LOT, right?)
You see, when you try to change too many things all at once (and trying to have the creme-du-la-creme of ALL of your goals, ALL the time) – you’re not setting yourself up for success. But instead, you’re making a wish list for failure.
We’re not saying that you can’t dream big.
We’re not saying that the sky isn’t the limit when you work hard for it.
We’re not saying that what you want is impossible.
But what we’re emphasizing is that putting too much pressure on yourself and having unrealistic expectations – feeds the all-or-nothing mindset we need to get rid of in the first place.
Putting too much pressure on yourself won’t be helpful
It’s like expecting a 2-year old to write an essay on English history. That’s just not realistic, is it? You would never ask a toddler to take an exam meant for 6th graders, right?
So why do you set a different standard for yourself? Why do you create goals that won’t be sustainable in the long run? Why all the pressure?
Now don’t get us wrong here. There are certain non-negotiables after bariatric surgery that can’t really be put on hold.
Yes, your daily vitamins are a must. And yes, you do need to prioritize protein. And when you’re newly post-op – following your surgeons post-op diet is also a very straightforward “YES”.
But here’s the thing.
Instead of creating (too many) habits that also need to be “perfect” – why not change the action intensity of those habits?
If you’re confused about what the action intensity is exactly, keep on reading as we break this down for you in the next section.
How to stay consistent without being too strict: changing the action intensity
The action intensity of your habits can greatly determine how easy you’re making it for yourself to follow through long-term.
For example, let’s take the topic of “exercise”.
There are different ways to approach adding exercise to your lifestyle and making it a new habit.
You could set a goal “I’m going to the gym every day at 7 am and do a 60 minute work-out”.
And you can be great doing that.
But then, something comes up.
An important deadline from work tying you down.
Your child falls ill.
Holidays, birthdays and other special occasions that become a distraction.
Sometimes, there’s just too much going on in your life and you just can’t make it to the gym today.
Instead of letting this become a negative spiral of all other habits going down the drain because you feel like you’re not doing enough. Instead of giving that all-or-nothing mindset the stage to perform a serious drama act in your head – let’s turn the tables around this time.
If you can’t make it to the gym at 7 am because you’re completely drowning in work – simplify things. Grab a mat and do 10 sit-ups before starting your day.
How to change your perspective when it comes down to the all-or-nothing mentality
Instead of beating yourself up for missing your weekly work-out – simply put on your favorite song and dance to it while holding a bottle of water in each hand.
It’s not always about the extremity of your actions. But more about showing up for yourself, even if it’s smaller than you planned initially.
But what’s even more important, is moving forward in the right direction and doing something (small) that lies in the periphery of your original plan.
(Remember: dancing to one song is way less overwhelming that doing a 60-minute workout at the gym. Sure you’ll burn more calories doing a 60-minute cardio training, but sometimes settling for something less extreme just to keep the momentum of habit change going, is going to be enough for that busy day.)
Final thoughts about ditching the all-or-nothing mindset
If you don’t hold any space for flexibility. You’re going to let the all-or-nothing mindset win.
Life isn’t a straightforward line where all of our plans just work out all the time.
Life is full of twists and turns. Surprises that we can’t control. And that’s okay.
Always try to find something related to your main goal – and do the mini-version instead.
And remember, you’re only human. You don’t have to be perfect.
If you’re reading this post saying “yes, that’s me” or thinking “I need to do this more often, this is going to help me” – then we highly recommend our bariatric mindset journal “My Bari Tale – The Ultimate Self-Help Guide to Mentally Prepare for Bariatric Surgery and Creates Habits that Last”.
You got this!
That’s great, but what is Your Onederland?
So glad you asked! If reading this blogpost made you wonder where you are right now, then let’s tell you a bit more about our community.
We see you. We hear you. And we’ll always have your back!
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