Failure is going to happen. It’s inevitable. None of us are perfect and we all are going to fuck up…
Here’s the thing though:
Changing your situation requires stepping into unfamiliar territory. This whole journey requires a skill set you haven’t mastered yet, which is just the nature of doing something new. I’m trying to learn Spanish at the moment and I end up saying a lot of ridiculous, grammatically incorrect things during my Skype lessons. It can be frustrating. Now, I want you to think about what you would say to me for encouragement if I told you I was giving up on Spanish until next Monday as I was discouraged because I pronounced a word incorrectly.
I know learning a language and losing weight might seem completely unrelated. However, they are both skills the require consistent practice, experimentation, patient, mistakes and experience over a long period. Your eyes do not deceive you: mistakes are a requirement.
The only time you actually fail at something is if you give up entirely, forever. It may seem like I’m using the term failure quite loosely. What I’m really referring to by “failure” is the perception of failure in the following scenario:
Sara has started a new diet and is “going to get it right this time”. She wants, nay, she demands, perfection of herself. In Sara’s eyes, if she is not perfect she has failed and consequently she feels like a failure. After a few days of following hyper strict dietary rules, she caves and eats the brownie she told herself was off limits and now feels terribly guilty about it. She decides to call her diet a wash and try again on Monday and concludes that her diet wasn’t strict enough.
I’m writing this(on a Saturday night, mind you, that’s how much I care) for all the Sara’s out there, as I know how frustrating and exhausting this cycle of events can be.
Just to be clear, I don’t think eating a brownie is a failure at all. I call this being human and making a damn mistake.
At this time I also want to point out the mistake is not eating the off plan brownie. The mistake is attempting to follow an impossibly strict diet. A strict diet will drive you to the brownies(mmm brownies) much faster than a realistic diet that takes into account how delicious calorie-dense foods are and that they ought to be included in a balanced diet. The brownie incident was an inevitable result of the mistake of being too strict.
I’d like to lay down a few things about this before we continue:
- Perfection is a myth, it doesn’t exist. Deal with it.
- You don’t need to be 100% adherent to your diet. EVER.
- By accepting nothing less than perfection, you are setting yourself up for failure. Perfection is a moving target. The closer you get to it the farther it moves.
Alrighty, now that’s out of the way, let’s get to the actionable part of the post. So failure is going to happen; there will be times where you aren’t a broccoli and salmon eating automaton. Now what?
Now, it’s not quite so simple as, “Do this thing I’m about to say and everything will be sunshine and rainbows”, but I do hope to open your mind to some new ways of thinking about this stuff that can make your weight loss journey more enjoyable and consequently more successful.
Here it is:
You have to take the emotion out of the way you view your mistakes.
Definitely easier said than done. However, if you can learn to view your dietary mistakes without any emotional investment, some magical things start to happen. For one, you end up being in a much better mood as you’re not beating yourself up over eating an Oreo. I honestly think that alone is worth the change in perspective. Furthermore, you end up making better dietary decisions rather than letting the guilt dictate your dietary decisions in the future. Without guilt or emotion it is easier to move on with your day, shrug off the minuscule and inconsequential mistake as such, and go right back on plan for the next meal.
A dietary slip-up is inconsequential in isolation. However, if the emotional backlash prompts a cascade of slip-ups then the effect is greater. One brownie a week won’t have any significant effect on your progress, but if you let that single brownie turn into 20 because, “fuck it, I’ve already ruined my diet” that will have a significant impact. Either way, the sooner you shrug off the mistake, the smaller the impact of the mistake will be. No matter how big the mistake feels, it’s never too late to view it objectively and move on.
You are going to make mistakes, and that’s normal; that doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress. Fat loss is a long, arduous journey, and anytime we do anything challenging we are going to make mistakes. By treating mistakes as necessary part of the learning process, we can make less mistakes on our journey and actually speed up the process.
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