Usually we see the Scarcity vs. Abundance theory applied to finance but it’s a key factor holding us back from becoming our healthiest selves. Eating too much and exercising too little are often born out of scarcity thinking.
Compulsively consuming the whole bag of chips as if it’s the last bag you will ever eat or skipping exercise altogether because you are “too busy” are perfect examples of how scarcity thinking derails good health. If you have a weight loss goal, one of the best things you can do for yourself is focus on “more.”
There is always more—or almost always. And embracing that idea is the first step to living by the cardinal rule of my fitness philosophy: MODERATION. What if, instead of grabbing a spoon and the whole carton of ice cream, you just had one small scoop and put the rest back in the freezer because you can have more tomorrow or the next day? The grocery store is full of ice cream. You really don’t have to eat it all today because there is more time to eat it.
The Negative Impact of Scarcity Thinking
A lot of us eat as if we are small children in a large family and if we don’t grab two biscuits and load up our plates, we won’t get our share. That kind of thinking is the scarcity mindset at work, controlling our actions through fear so that we eat out of desperation and not with joy or the pleasure of sustaining our bodies.
Scarcity thinking gets us into the negative self-talk and spiral thinking that makes dieters miserable and prevents us from creating sustainable change in our eating habits.
“I’d better finish this; I don’t know when I’ll have the chance to eat it again”
“I can’t control myself”
“I’m on a diet.”
“I don’t eat carbs.”
“I’m going all out tonight because I start my diet tomorrow.”
“I can’t eat that.”
Those negative thoughts feed more negative thoughts, causing us to pick apart our appearances and making us focus on the “injustice” of beauty and body types. We can’t celebrate our strong legs because we are envious of someone else’s small waist. We can’t be happy that we lost two pounds because our friend lost seven. Everything is a comparison and a competition. Even when you win you lose, and only the immediate results matter. That’s scarcity thinking for you.
Unfortunately scarcity thinking is a byproduct of rigid dieting. We work so hard denying ourselves, counting calories, saying “no” to what we want, that we set up an adversarial relationship with food. We teach ourselves that feeling hungry and restricting ourselves proves our worth. Let’s get this straight: your value as a human being has nothing to do with your outward appearance and everything to do with the abundance of fabulousness that is in you.
Two Keys to an Abundance Mindset
Focusing on that abundance with regard to food is actually the key to getting off the roller coaster of dieting and creating a healthy lifestyle that adds up to a fit, strong, and happy you over the long haul. If you can convince yourself of two things: that there is always more of whatever it is, and that there is enough for everyone, then you will be in a much better headspace to set down your spoon and enjoy food in moderation. Those positive affirmations are all about taking back your power over nourishing your body. Once you gain that control, you’ll be in the driver’s seat to wellness.
The Demoralizing Effect of Scarcity on your Workouts
It’s not just our eating that takes a hit from scarcity thinking. How often have you told yourself that you only have thirty minutes so why bother working out at all? Or maybe you look at the pile of work on your desk and tell yourself there just isn’t time to exercise. Or you feel ashamed that you aren’t fit enough to run so you don’t bother to walk. Being overburdened, overwhelmed, and “over it” are the inevitable results of that way of thinking.
Reprogramming to Take the Abundance Approach
The abundance mindset approach is to use whatever time you do have to exercise because you know that you will feel good and think more clearly afterward and that all of your work is cumulative. What you do today added to what you do tomorrow and the next day creates the sum of your life. Abundance thinking, like true fitness, is about long-term goals, not about a one off performance. It’s not the twenty-six mile marathon you just ran that makes you fit; it’s the months or years of daily training that got you ready for that marathon.
It’s easy to get off track when you miss a day of exercise. You start letting all the little things block you from taking care of yourself. But if you focus on the fact that each day is a new opportunity to get that walk in, hit the gym, or play some tennis, your positive attitude will motivate you to do more. You have to trust yourself. You have every day to make the choices you need to in order to live a healthy life. That’s abundant thinking.
Abundant Thinking Leads to a Happier Endgame
Approach your health, both diet and exercise, with an abundant attitude and you will reap amazing rewards. Your weight loss and fitness efforts will be grounded in long-term growth and a lifestyle that is sustainable and feels good. Everything you need is available to you when you allow yourself to focus on what you have and how much more is out there for you.
Choices. Moderation. Consistency. Opportunity. Growth.
Go get it!