There’s a constant theme that runs through the emails I receive: I fear failure. I pulled the below quote from an email I received today from a brand new Total Body Reboot client:
I’ve always been a perfectionist, and even though I’ve been taught, “do your best”, if I fail, then my best was not good enough.
And with that I felt I needed to write another post on failure (here’s another powerful post on identifying and overcoming failure). I read back over that post on quieting the resistance, asking myself if I had missed something.
One of the reasons people are so afraid of failure with regards to losing weight, getting healthier, or improving their performance is because they tend to misidentify it. Let me give you some examples, and then we’ll get to the Jason Mraz part.
“I totally broke down yesterday. I had ice cream and a brownie. I was at this party and I just couldn’t resist it.”
This isn’t failure. You know what failure is? Thinking this is failure and then giving up. That’s failure.
Here’s the deal with breaking down and giving into cravings: it’s only ONE day. You’re working on building a lifestyle. In the scheme of things, a “breakdown” day means nothing. It won’t hurt your metabolism, it won’t hurt your progress, it won’t hurt anything.
And you know what? It happens to everyone.
A great quote by H.G. Wells is pretty useful here: “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” That’s all you need to know. Give yourself credit for all of the great things you’re doing and get back to moving in the right direction as quickly as possible.
“I only lost one pound this week. This isn’t working for me. I quit.”
Wait a minute; you LOST weight and you’re exclaiming that this is failure? This is not failure.
I use the term “rapid weight loss” many times because rapid weight loss is possible, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose. But you know what? Every time I read The Tortoise and The Hare, the tortoise wins.
For some people weight loss isn’t rapid. It all depends on your age, your history, how broken you are, and so on. It’s a lot of factors. Breaking your metabolism is like breaking your leg, it takes time to heal. It’s actual physical damage.
If you’ve spent the last 30 years breaking your body, you can’t expect it to heal and rapidly change (if it does change rapidly, that’s great, but you probably shouldn’t expect it to) in a few months.
One to two pounds of steady weight loss is positive progress. That’s all you’re looking for. This isn’t a crash diet and it’s not a race to get to the finish line.
Positive progress — no matter how small — is NOT failure.
“I haven’t lost any weight in two weeks. This stuff was working, but now it’s not. I need a change.”
This is not failure. The question is, “Are you still eating real food, avoiding ANTI foods, and doing functional exercise?”
If the answer is yes, then you’re not even close to failure. So what’s the deal?
Plateaus are a normal part of this process. It’s very possible that you’ll go two to three weeks with no apparent progress and then continue to lose weight again (if you still have fat to lose). Your body goes through periods where it needs to adjust and reset.
While there are “strategies” for breaking through plateaus, the best thing to do is be patient. Remember the broken leg analogy? Healing takes time.
Besides, what’s the alternative? Eating ANTI foods and doing insane exercise?
Another thing to consider — which bugs me to no end and has me considering changing the rules to: “you’re not allowed to use the word “weight” and you’re not allowed to step on a scale ever again” — is when you don’t lose “weight” for two weeks but your measurements decrease.
Which is more important to you: what the scale says or how your clothes fit? I’ve had people QUIT because the scale wasn’t moving even though their waist was shrinking! That’s so unfortunate.
“I haven’t worked out in days and I can’t find the motivation. I don’t think I can keep doing this.”
The motivation to workout ebbs and flows for all of us. My advice? Continue to remind yourself that 80% of progress is about what you’re eating. Not working out isn’t even in the realm of failure.
If you go a week or two without working out, it’s not a big deal. Just don’t let not working out be an excuse and catalyst for running back to ANTI foods. That happens too often; you stop working out and use that as an excuse to behave like your former self. THAT’S failure.
I’d also suggest you check your nutrients and supplements. If you’re not getting the nutrients you need, especially things like Vitamin D, you’re going to succumb easier to depression and a loss of motivation. Or, check your sleep. I find that when I get less than 8 hours of sleep a few nights in a row, my motivation to workout and stay focused on health severely declines.
You might think because you lost a little motivation that the answer is to run back to ANTI foods? It’s not. I went a month without exercising once because I was overwhelmed with work and life stuff. But, I kept eating great and nothing changed with regard to my body composition. NOTHING.
I got right back to exercising the following month and all was well. (Keep in mind that when I eat ANTI foods I gain fat VERY easily, so it’s not like I’m an ectomorph telling you that story). You’re not failing.
The bottom line is that you can’t truly fail at this, and here’s why…
The examples above are just a handful out of dozens that I hear all of the time. They’re points of friction that you consider to be ultimate failures.
And they’re typically points of friction that that you’ve experienced in the past on other “programs” that “derailed” you and you’re fearing that your new journey will be plagued by the same things.
“I fell of the wagon.” And?
The wagon doesn’t move on without you as the other people — who are so amazing as to still be on it — wave back at you as they ride off into the sunset. Here’s where that Jason Mraz quote comes in handy:
You’re not obligated to win. You’re obligated to keep trying. To do the best you can do everyday.
~ Jazon Mraz
Take Jason’s advice. Winning — whatever that means — is not your obligation. Your obligation is to keep trying. Your obligation is to make each day the best you can make it. If today is a five, tomorrow can still be a nine.
Hell, today can be a zero; you can lay in bed all day and eat Haggen Dazs while you cry and watch reruns of The Price is Right and still get up tomorrow and knock it out of the park.
You can “fall off the wagon” for 6 months and then work your way back around to this stuff and make permanent change. Why? That wagon stays at your side until the day you die. If you’re not dead, you haven’t failed yet.
If you just respect your true obligation — to keep trying — you end up getting what you wanted all along.
This isn’t a “challenge” or a “test” or any other finite program. Boiled down to the core, it’s about eating real food and doing safe exercise. How can you ever fail at that? If it’s not something you do today, it’s something you can easily do tomorrow.
You might be astray for different periods of time, but that’s not failure. You might hit some roadblocks or experience some things that appear to be failure. But none of that matters. When is eating real food and doing safe exercise ever the wrong answer?
Just keep coming back to the wagon and getting on. The more you hop back on, the longer you stay on. Eventually, you’re in that party that never seems to fall off, no matter what.
That’s how it works. It’s a process. And the process is aided by your mental outlook. Get your mind right and the rest will fall into place.
Founder of Rebooted Body and host of The Rebooted Body Podcast. Kevin helps men and women finally get a body and life they love with his unique blend of real food, functional movement, and psychology. To work with him personally, choose a program.