Consistency over Intensity: Why an All or Nothing Mentality isn’t Necessary for your Goals

It's a type of distorted thinking - all or nothing. Today MetPro Coach and Registered Sports Dietician Bianca de la Rosa joins Coach Crystal to discuss this phenomenon.

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Crystal OKeefe: Welcome to the MetPro Method Podcast. I'm your host, Crystal O'Keefe, and today I'm joined by MetPro Coach Bianca de La Rosa. We are going to be discussing all or nothing mentality. Bianca, thank you so much for being here today.

Bianca de la Rosa: Thanks for having me, Crystal. I always love hopping on here and chatting with you.

Crystal OKeefe: Well, I'm really excited about this topic. We were just brainstorming about different topics and you came up with this one. I'm really curious what made you think of it?

Bianca de la Rosa: Yeah. This seems to always be a topic of discussion. Um, not just with MetPro clients, but with friends, with family, and maybe even more so now because we're in spring and everybody's going outside, everybody's going to the beach. There are gatherings, barbecues, alcohol is a really big thing right now, sweets.

I think it's bringing to the forefront and to light that gatherings are going to happen. Fun events are going to happen. So, I just thought it would be something really good for everybody to take into their own lives as we go through the spring and the summer and everything else that's to come.

Crystal OKeefe: That makes a lot of sense. I think we probably ought to start with, can you explain your version of what all or nothing mentality means?

Bianca de la Rosa: Yeah, this is really just your black and white thinking, labeling food as either good or bad or healthy or unhealthy. And, therefore it sets the tone of food is either good or bad for, eating specific foods, and labeling foods almost in a way.

Crystal OKeefe: Okay. And I feel like people might ask the question, why is that a bad thing? Like if you label, like if you know, like for instance, you know, chocolate's my downfall, so I will say chocolate, for example, if that's labeled bad and I say I can't eat that. Isn't that a good thing?

Bianca de la Rosa: Uh, I mean, if you label something bad, you're basically telling your brain that you can't have it. That's a restrictive type of eating mindset. And so when you set your mind to tell yourself that you can't have something, it automatically makes that food item more desirable. You want it even more. Um, it's, it's a psychological aspect that kind of switches around and, you know, really an all or nothing mindset.

It's a catalyst for like binge and purging cycles, which is, you know, again, either being bad or making up for being bad by being overly restrictive. If you are overly restrictive, you will, it's inevitable. You're gonna want the thing that you desire, that you want a hundred times more. And so it can be the perfect storm to harm your health long term if it goes over and over and over again, both physically and mentally.

And as you know too, at MetPro we work on repairing metabolisms and boosting metabolisms and so we definitely try to do the opposite, um, at MetPro and try to find somehow some way the balance in between.

Crystal OKeefe: Okay. Well if people are stuck in that black and white thinking, do you have any thoughts on how people can kind of pull themselves out of it or how they can reframe it to look at it in a different way?

Bianca de la Rosa: Yeah, I think really it's just trying to recognize any all or nothing approaches that you have to food. And by recognizing that you are thinking a certain way or that you're putting on labels, you become more self-aware. And that's really all we're looking for is self-awareness. Um, so when you have these thought processes in your head, I can't have this chocolate, it's bad. Or I can't have these sour patch kids, which are my favorite, but I can't have these sour patch because they're unhealthy for me. When those thoughts start coming in, process them, recognize them, and question them without judgment.

So just trying to be self-aware. This is easier said than done, and it might be really hard in the beginning, but with practice it does get better because that's what also builds good habits too, is practice, practice, practice and consistency. Again, if you have those thoughts, you're telling yourself like a certain narrative in your head.

And really it's just trying to not give such harsh food rules because like we deserve to have some of the things that we enjoy.

Crystal OKeefe: Yeah, I feel like that can be a really tough area for people, especially for people who are type A, because I see it in myself. If you're a type A person, you tend to be like, really hard driving. Therefore, you might be more self-critical than a person who's not a Type A.

So, if you are looking at something and you're like, okay, I deserve this. It's hard to “allow yourself”, and I'm saying that in quotes for people who aren't watching, something without going overboard. And so, do you have any thoughts on how people can find that happy medium?

And I'm curious if you can talk more about the processing, like what does that look like? If there's a way to explain it, I don't even know if there is.

Bianca de la Rosa: Yeah. I think more so. It's just when we have that all or nothing approach, basically we're trying to have some self-control, right?

All we're really trying to do is control our bodies, control like our mindset. And although in certain areas that can be helpful. Trying to find that happy medium between the two is going to open up a lot more freedom and. For instance, like say that, you know, somebody was restricting and only having healthy foods for months and months and months.

But then in the back of their head, you know, they love chocolate so, so much and then they have like a holiday come up with all of your family bringing sweets and chocolates and things like that. Guess what's gonna happen? It's going to be a binge, it's inevitable. That's going to be a binge.

So, trying to have that happy medium doesn't mean that you have to go months of absolutely cold turkey and then you know, just really having tons and tons of different things all at one time. It's like, how can you add an implement into your life of things that are going to make you feel happy and good, but not feeling like you're deprived either? For instance, like you have a chocolate, so maybe it's simply having like a couple of, um, squares of dark chocolate at night because it's going to satisfy you, it's going to make you happy and it's not going to kick whatever diet you're on or you know, eating habits, things like that.

So again, easier said than done, but little things like that, little changes like that really are very helpful. Um, and then the thought process behind it is really just trying to have more of a balanced approach instead of just completely restricting for weeks and weeks and months, and months.

Crystal OKeefe: So, I'm hearing you say, if you do have something that is like really tempting for you, then maybe you don't have it in the house, but you treat yourself to it. Or maybe you have it in the house, but you have it in a specific area and you pair it with something that's like, this is, this is your time to treat yourself. And you kind of like already have it portioned out so that it's a healthy portion, not an overindulgent portion.

Bianca de la Rosa: Right, exactly. In theory, that would work pretty well in theory. In theory. And again, you know, it's gonna make a big difference of like, if you're restricting for weeks and weeks and you have like, you know, some unhealthy foods in your house and come home from a stressful day at work, or you know, something like that.

And then you end up, before you know it, you have like the whole chip bag and it's empty and you're like, oh wow. How did that happen? Well, I mean, I think, I think a big fix really for that is allowing yourself, especially during those cravings and things like that, to have a small amount of something. So that way it doesn't almost like accumulate over a period of time which is the biggest thing.

Crystal OKeefe: And do you have any suggestions for how people can recognize that they're in these behaviors? Are there key words they might think or key thoughts that might go through their head that's like, red flag, like this could be something that I need to take a closer look at.

Bianca de la Rosa: Yeah. I think a big, a big feeling is like seeing how your body reacts, like almost kind of sitting in a certain feeling. Like for instance, I've had some clients tell me that they get anxious whenever they know that they're going to be at a gathering where they have a slew of everything like pies and cookies and all of that, that they feel actually physically anxious.

Or on the flip side, some people where they are emotionally like driven to salty things or sweet things, especially after a really tough day. So there's something a lot deeper than just that food is there for like a crutch in a way but again, trying to recognize that if you feel a certain way that isn't quite normal, then, you know, probably there's something a little bit deeper going on there.

And the best way, the best thing I can say to you is, the biggest step to overcoming like an all or nothing eating is really to set those achievable and sustainable health goals for you. So whether it's food or fitness, especially exercise, things like that. Trying to have those small little goals, um, are gonna be very, very helpful for you.

Many individuals have fallen into the trap of setting health goals that are like daunting and like really demanding. And it sets this expectation at a really, really high bar. But again, just trying to do really, really small little goals. So, for instance, exercise wise, if you're either all or nothing, I'm going to exercise seven days a week versus one day a week.

Okay, well, what is realistic for you? What is really realistic? On the flip side with food, again, what is realistic for you If you know that in the past going cold Turkey has worked for you, but then on the flip side, you've gone, Either extremely healthy or not healthy at all.

Trying to create that small health goal of how can I find the middle? Um, I hope that came out right. It makes sense.

Crystal OKeefe: Yeah, it did. It did. And maybe for people who might have trouble kind of processing it, can you give me some examples, so I struggle more with food than the exercise aspect of it.

But, but I will say exercise, like you said it, the, the big goals versus the small goals. There have been times that I'm like, well, if I can't do a 45-minute ride, what's the point? Uh, so what would you tell somebody if they came to you and they said, ah, I was going to do a 45-minute ride, life happened. I couldn't get it. What would you say to them?

Bianca de la Rosa: Yeah, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. 45 minutes does not define your workout. So, if you can get in 15 minutes, if you can get in 20 minutes, that's compromising a meeting in the middle. It doesn't mean that you are anything less because you couldn't do 45 minutes of exercise.

If anything, it's a good thing because you were still able to squeeze in a 15 to 20 minute, which is a huge achievement, and that's a really big win. So, it doesn't have to be like a 45-minute, 60 crazy minute boot camp workout in order for you to be successful.

That's part of making those achievable, small, sustainable goals is okay. Note telling yourself, maybe I can't make this 45-minute workout, but I can get in 15 to 20 minutes and that's the most that I can give today. And that's enough.

Crystal OKeefe: So, yeah. I found this, type of thinking is really helpful for me when I remember to think of it. And that is, uh, thinking of it almost like a letter grade for my food. So if I think about that, I eat five meals a day and, um, I eat four of them a hundred percent perfectly, and I have one that's not, I'm still at an 80%, which is a B. Yep. Yep. And like, would you yell at your kid if they got a B on a test?

No. I mean, most people wouldn't. There's probably some out there that might, I mean, there might be reasons, you know, but like most people would not be upset with that, and yet we tend to beat up on ourselves if it's not a perfect day or a perfect week.

Bianca de la Rosa: Yeah, you bring up a really, really good point. If you are for the majority of the time, um, and I, you know, I don't want to put like a percentage to it, but for the majority of the day, if you are really eating fairly healthy, um, healthy meaning just foods that nourish your body and that make you feel really good that's the key right there, is nourishing.

You don't have to label it as healthy, unhealthy foods that truly nourish your body and make it feel good. Then yeah, have that, dinner or a glass of wine or something like that to where it can help balance it out. Now I do want to say that there's a difference between balance and then going full out.

You know, we can't treat ourselves for every single meal of the day, that's a whole completely different topic, but just trying to have the balance in between the two and feeling good about it as well. You don't have to feel guilty, you don't have to feel like you did something wrong because it's not true at all.

And the other thing I was actually going to bring up too is, there's also a big difference for people that have like food sensitivities and, you know, health conditions, ethical reasons, religious reasons around certain foods too. That's not necessarily all or nothing, it's just they literally can't have certain foods.

So, yeah. Um, yeah, I thought I would bring that in there too.

Crystal OKeefe: That's a really great point. Yeah. That's not the same thing as what we're talking about here. Right, exactly. Exactly.

Sometimes as a coach, and I'm curious how you deal with this, if you ever get questions from people who feel like they failed if they didn't follow only the food list in their MetPro app. Mm-hmm. And I find, or they went out to dinner or, um, something like that.

And I find that people have to be kind with themselves. Like if, yeah, if going out to dinner is super important with your family once a week, that kind of thing. But they feel like they failed. If they did that, what would you tell somebody?

Bianca de la Rosa: Yeah, I mean, my first reaction would be there's no failure here at all, especially if you are, if you're on plan, you're hitting your meals, you're getting your water and intake, you're getting in, you know, some type of form of like movement or exercise.

There is no failure there. The only failures that come is when we don't. Try or give effort outside of that, having a meal out once a week with like your family or your friends, that's living life, that's having balance. We can't just stay in our houses and cook all of our meals 24/7.

In a perfect world, Okay, maybe. But you know, we're living life where we have like events and gatherings and holidays and friends and all of that good stuff. And that's, that is having the freedom and the liberation to also live life while also feeling confident in that yes, I can eat foods that nourish my body, that make me feel really good, um, while still having a little bit of flexibility to choose other foods that are going to make me really happy.

Crystal OKeefe: So again, finding that happy medium, kind of, that's the theme here today.

Bianca de la Rosa: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. It's hard to really think about if we've been in this, ebb and flow of like fad diets and the cycle and things like that. It is difficult and I completely understand that.

Um, we have been trained as humans to, you know, diet then go back to normal. Diet can go back to normal. So it can be difficult to think about or even imagine that there is compromise to being in the middle. But there is, and it's just about like practice being self-aware, knowing where some of those like emotions that you're feeling to certain foods are coming from, why are they're coming up? Um, and then kind of taking a little bit of a deeper dive into that. But there is definitely, there's a way to do it for sure.

Crystal OKeefe: Absolutely. And, I just want to add, as a general disclaimer, we highly recommend that if you're having some of these issues on a regular basis and you're not sure what to do with feelings that are coming up, all means seek out therapy. There are lots of people that can help you with these very specific things and it's normal and healthy and, uh, there's a lot of help that can, that can come from that.

So just want to make sure we, we put that out there.

Bianca de la Rosa: Yeah, definitely. For sure. Hey, everybody needs a little bit of therapy all in different areas, so it's there for you.

Crystal OKeefe: Absolutely. Uh, is there anything that we haven't covered when it comes to, uh, that kind of all or nothing mentality that you want to make sure people know?

Bianca de la Rosa: Yeah, I mean, I think, I think overall, um, just know that there is a way to find, there is a way to find balance and you don't have to feel like you, um, have failed if you didn't do something a hundred percent, if you gave yourself, you know, a grade C or B or anything like that. Um, give yourself a little bit of grace, be, especially if you have earned it too.

Um, in the way that you generally eat really good nourishing foods that make you feel really well, a little bit of grace can be given to everybody. Um, so that's, that's what I would say first and foremost to everyone.

Crystal OKeefe: I think that is wonderful advice. Uh, Bianca, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.

And listeners, that's all for this week. You can find all of the MetPro Method episodes anywhere you get podcasts, or you can go to Please be sure to follow the show and rate. And review because that lets other people know what they can expect. You can also learn more about MetPro at

I'm your host, Crystal O'Keefe, and I'll be back next week. Until then, remember, consistency is key.

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