Breaking out of the SHOULD trap – The Rungry Health Coach

Today Beth Roessner, aka The Rungry Health Coach, is sharing her wisdom on the power of the word ‘should’… and what we can do to lessen its hold over us. You already know that I think using ‘should’ can sabotage your efforts at healthy living. Today Beth breaks down an action plan of how to break ‘the should trap’ and take that negativity out of our lives. Try her tips to start shifting your mindset!

Also, be sure to check out Beth’s other guest posts for Fine Fit Day here:

The Smoothie Makeover

In Defense of Grains

Pre- and Post-Run Nutrition Tips 

What Are Probiotics? And Why Do You Need Them?

5 Best Foods for Runners

Breaking out of the SHOULD trap - The Rungry Health Coach

‘Should’ is a pretty common word in everyone’s vocabulary, and although it seems innocent, ‘should’ is a very dangerous word. It creates a culture of negativity within ourselves.

“I should do yoga today.”

“I should eat a salad, but I really want a cheeseburger.”

“You should be doing more squats if you want to make progress.”

“I should extend my run tomorrow because I ate like $h!t today.”

“You should go to bed now if you want to be in a good mood tomorrow.”

“I should put pants on before I leave the house.”

Should is problematic because when we use it, we detach ourselves from reality. We’re talking about things that we wish were true, but aren’t. It’s a reminder that we’re not doing something that we “should” be doing–running, yoga, dieting, putting on pants.

“Should” brings about a slippery slope, and is pretty common in today’s diet-heavy culture. It’s a reminder that what we’re doing is not good enough and that we’re not good individuals because we are not doing a particular activity. We often feel discouraged, guilty or awful about ourselves. (I mean, has telling yourself “I should lose weight” ever motivated you to lose weight and made you feel good about yourself? Yeah…me either.)

And in my own personal experience, when I actually do the activity I “should” be doing…I don’t always feel my best doing it. And sometimes I don’t feel better later.

But, we use “should” in conversations with others, too. When you tell someone what they should be doing, you’re ignoring their decisions and right to be in charge of their bodies.

When we constantly tell ourselves or others that we should be doing something, we’re reinforcing the negative. Instead of creating solutions, we’re emphasizing the problems. When we’re feeling discouraged and negative, we’re less likely to take action. It may take some habit breaking, but there are ways to stop using the word should. It’s about creating a new mindset.

Focus on the benefits. Instead of saying “I should run longer today,” change your thinking to focus on why you want to do something. “I enjoy longer runs because it allows me to get lost in my thoughts. And it’s a great way of viewing my city. It’s when I feel my very best.” Put emphasis on why you want to do something and the positive results that will come of it.

Focus on accepting reality. Meet yourself and acknowledge where you are right now. Don’t dwell on where you want to be, but focus on the present. If you ate a bit too much, now is not the time to exercise harder out of punishment. If you want that cheeseburger, then own that choice and get a cheeseburger. If you are truly tired, then go bed and get some rest.

Take action and replace “should” with “next time.” When you catch yourself saying the word “should,” switch it out with the phrase “next time.” This phrase is more solution-based. “Next time, if I really want the salad, I’ll choose the salad.” “Next time, I’ll practice yoga, but today I’m tired.”

Accept people for who there are and where they are. We’re all different, and that is a beautiful thing. As much as it may anger us that our partner, colleague, friend, parent or child may do one thing when we’d like them to do another, we can’t force them to change. Just like we all have our own strengths and weaknesses, we should accept others for theirs.

Don’t dwell on the past and instead focus on the future. Focus on what you want to accomplish and where to go moving forward. If it helps, replace “should” with “could.” When you tell yourself, “I could run longer today,” you’re reminding yourself of your inner power. And odds are, you may take those steps to extend your run because you understand the benefits.

Next time you catch yourself saying the word “should,” try to flip it around and focus on what you’d like to accomplish and why. Remember, it’s about a shift in mindset. It won’t happen overnight, but with tiny steps, you can eliminate the word.

Need help with mindset? Ask Beth your questions!

The Rungry Health Coach - Smoothie MakeoverBeth Roessner is a one-time couch potato turned avid runner, triathlete and wellness warrior. Through her business, The Rungry Health Coach, she works with adults around the country to help them reach all of their wellness and running goals–from weight loss to boosting a runner’s mental game. She firmly believes that overall wellness is about small changes that help create sustainable habits. Beth lives in Washington DC, where she enjoys morning runs around the monuments, and eating a lot of vegetables.

If you’d like to connect with Beth, you can find her on The Rungry Health Coach, on Facebook and on Instagram.


  1. I love this post. I am always so guilty of the “shoulds!”
    Sandra D Laflamme recently posted…Cabot Fit Team!My Profile