All-Or-Nothing: Are Your Clients Trapped?

Have you ever heard your client say, “I will start my plan tomorrow,” or that they started a diet one day and then ate something that was not “on plan” only to feel that they “ruined their progress”? 

Did your client have a “cheat weekend” or “cheat day” to reward themselves for staying on plan all week? Or did they wake up, step on the scale, failing to see any progress; so they thought “screw it” and instead ate what they felt like that day? The entire day!

Maybe your clients are busy with, work, kids, etc.… forgot to eat, forgot to plan and at the end of the day noticed they were elbow deep in a bag of chips and confidently said, “I will do better tomorrow” and continued to devour the bag.

Or perhaps you know clients who have gone to a restaurant and saw nothing on the menu that was “plan friendly” and decide to just eat whatever they wanted and made themselves feel better by saying, “this will just count as my cheat meal for the week.” Maybe they over eat and over indulge in foods but they say, “I will be good tomorrow.”

There are many scenarios. Many different phrases. And I hazard a guess that any trainer reading this right now have had clients say some variations of these at some point or another.

Whether it is a plan your clients are on, certain foods they are trying to “stay away from”, or them wanting to workout… these thoughts and behaviours happen. They are COMMON! If you get your clients to pause… and listen to conversations between people, they WILL notice. Statements like this are socially acceptable and so “normal” to us, that we don’t even think twice about it. These situations and conversations aren’t new, BUT they can be very dangerous if we don’t understand them or pay attention to seeing why they can be harmful.

This type of behaviour, is what we at CBT Meets Fitness call the “all-or-nothing” approach. It’s a learned behaviour courtesy of our diet culture. YES, once again more behaviours that we don’t see as a problem until we do, are directly supported from the health and fitness industry we have grown to love! (But we have the power to change this, my fellow Fit Pro!)

So, what can we do to create a better experience with for our clients health and fitness goals? Take our clients goals to the next level or actually get them to START achieving them from a healthier, more realistic point of view? 

The first thing is to be aware. It is step 1 for any type of REAL health & fitness change.

You MUST get your client to recognize that they are doing this, that these are unhelpful thoughts that aren’t serving them. It has no doubt made their health worse. It may have even helped them to gain weight instead of lose it or maintain it. 

Perhaps It’s messed up their gut, making eating certain foods intolerable to eat over others. Bloated? Maybe it’s made they feel exhausted all the time. It’s STOPPED them from living their life fully without fear or weight gain all because they ATE a piece of cake or some extra drinks while they had a night out with friends.

But here is the thing with awareness, I can’t tell you, YOU have to tell them. You need to get them to identify that it is THEM right now. Start with SEEING, KNOWING and understanding that this is happening


If they ARE aware, then you can start teaching them to re-frame. If you start to hear them say, “I am having a cheat meal,” Teach them to STOP. Recognize it and self-correct. Change it to, “I will have a meal of choice… and I choose to have a meal that is in-line with my health and fitness goals.”

Or if their thoughts are going a mile a minute, and the urge to cave is at its peak, simply ask them to say to themselves, “this is just food and I am going to eat this food with portion control in mind. It is perfectly OK to eat this food that I am 100% in control of CHOOSING to eat. Therefore I am also CHOOSING right now in this moment to enjoy it.”

The more your clients do this, the more relaxed they will feel. The less anxious they will become and the more ownership they take, leading to more control over foods. The more control and decisions they have over food, the more sustainable their health goals can become.

When your clients aren’t ordering food from a place of deprivation, guilt or shame the less it will matter to them. The less it matters to them, the more neutral food becomes and the more neutral food becomes the less they will want to “cheat.”

There is no special day. There is no deprivation. It’s all just food and it’s just them living their life around food being the person they know they want to be!

NOW, although this is transformative, this also isn’t the end to the all-or-nothing issue. This is a great step forward to the reducing unrealistic, sabotaging dieting thoughts. 

Remember, being in a rush is a deeper symptom your clients may need to address; which is another common diet behaviour. So read our blogs and joining the CBT-Certification Program email list might be the start your business needs.

And if you want help… and know you need guidance and are ready to invest in CBT-Fitness, then I urge you to start with the 4 Week Food & Fitness Connection Course. CBT Meets Fitness can help your clients start the journey to a healthier relationship with food and your body… it starts with YOU knowing the skills and implementing them!

“A healthy body need consistent, realistic behaviours,”

Jill Bunny

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Jill Bunny

As CEO of CBT Meets Fitness, Jill Bunny provides the vision and leadership to further our mission: to improve mental health & fitness worldwide through excellence in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She manages internal operations and oversees the creation of new programs. She also manages the expansion of existing programs to increase access to CBT training and certification programs for health & fitness professionals in North America. She holds a degree in Kinesiology, from the University of New Brunswick, along with Functional Medicine certification from IFMHC, and CBT qualifications from the University of Laurier, Penn State & Beck’s Institute in the US.

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CBT Meets Fitness is the bridge between psychotherapy + fitness.

We are comprised of educated professionals specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for things like depression, anxiety, and numerous other psychological concerns pertaining to weight loss, athletics, as well as dieting & exercise. Our experts use clinically-proven methods, which make us the premier online CBT fitness treatment centre in North America. At CBT Meets Fitness, we are proud to serve women & athletes across the globe with evidence based skills to help with the missing mental piece of health & fitness transformations and athletic success.

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