How many of you have been discouraged because you've failed time and time again? Have you let that discouragement creep in and keep you from moving forward? I have a secret for you.
A healthy lifestyle does NOT mean giving 100%, 100% of the time. As much as we all believe we're superwoman, we really are human.
A healthy LIFESTYLE is just that. A life-long journey. That means that you're likely to fail 100+ times. Some failures might be big, and some small, but failing is inevitable. But the relief comes in realizing that failing is part of the process. Everybody fails. But those who succeed get up and keep going.
Recently I found myself getting really down because I've been slacking. I mean seriously - I blog about creating a healthy lifestyle. How in the world could I be falling off the wagon? This is exactly what I teach people to avoid! I started eating out a little too much, I was going to the gym maybe 2-3 times a week (which admittedly isn't all that bad). But come on!? How in the world can I teach people to have a healthy life if I'm failing? I was being SO hard on myself. Until I realized this:
I've created a healthy lifestyle because I've failed over and over and over again.
That's right. I'm not out to make good choices for only a week or a month or even a year. My goal is to make healthy choices and create healthy habits for the rest of my life. That means that I will fail time and time again.
The failures are not what's important. What's important is that I've gotten back up time and time again.
Let me tell you about some of my failures so you can learn from my mistakes. Brace yourself, I have plenty of them.
Plus, I created an awesome cheat-sheet for you so you can turn your failures into successes. Feel free to download it and fill it out as we go, or just have it sent to your inbox and you can go through it later.
A bit of background
If you haven't read my story, you can read the whole thing here.
When I was in high school, I was a total athlete. I played volleyball, softball and track. I did volleyball year-round while I was playing my other sports (which was tiring to say the least). I ate a TON throughout high school but I burned so many calories every day that I never gained weight. I never counted my calories or even though twice about what I was eating. But still, I was in pretty good shape. I mean, you could see my quads flex as I walked.
Then, college. dun dun dun....
I failed big time!
I was used to eating a ton, plus I had a pass to the dorm cafeteria which was always all you can eat. So I ate all I could eat. I also didn't exercise. At all. Even if I wanted to exercise, I didn't know how. I had always been part of a team. My coach told me exactly what to do and that's what I did. Gym? I had no clue where to start. Volleyball game - I knew how to do that!
Let me tell you, when you go from exercising several hours a day, almost every day of the week, to exercising 0 hours a day, 0 days of the week.. and you eat the same or more than you had been eating.. you gain weight. A lot of it.
You've heard of the freshmen 15 right? Ya, mine was more like freshmen 30. I was bigger than I had ever been. My clothes were super tight. I even tore a pair of jeans one time when I bent down. Super embarrassing! Luckily, I was only a few feet away from my dorm room, but I still had to back away slowly - with a bright red face!
I fixed it
I went home that summer and did weight watchers with my mom. I didn't pay for it or go to any meetings, but I looked through her paperwork and calculated my points. I lost the weight that summer and felt much better going back to school the next year.
Through college, I found people playing pick up volleyball games. I played as many games as I could - any time of the day, any day of the week. I was always down!
I felt great because I started getting back into shape.
Then I failed again
A few years later, I went on an 18 month mission for my church where other people were feeding me 90% of the time. I never wanted to be rude or say no so I ate everything I was given. Even if that meant eating 2 or 3 meals a day. Don't get me wrong, I was super grateful for their generosity! We ate a lot of good food!
However, with all of the work we had to do out there, we hardly made the time to workout. Again, with an increase in food and decrease in exercise, I gained about 30 pounds.
At the end of the 18 months, I came home ready to wear all the clothes I had left behind and found that I didn't really fit into any of them. I was so uncomfortable in every outfit I tried on. I was self conscious and I knew I needed to do something about the weight.
So I fixed it again
For about 3 months, I counted my calories and really watched what I ate. Once I had lost the weight, I started exercising. Again, I felt great!
And I failed again
Then, I started traveling for work. When you're constantly on the go, it's common to eat out for every meal and rarely exercise. It's super hard to have a routine when you're moving locations every week - or sometimes every day.
I started realizing that if I was traveling every week, I couldn't have dessert with my meal "because I was traveling." That meant I was having dessert every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. And that just wasn't necessary.
So once again, I fixed it
This time I didn't gain a bunch of weight because I caught myself early on. I decided that I wouldn't overeat and I would stop ordering dessert with every meal. I also decided I needed to find a way to workout while I was on the road. I started always packing gym clothes with me and making a conscious decision to workout X times during each of my trips. Even if I could squeeze in 2-3 workouts while traveling, I knew it would keep me on track.
And then, ANOTHER fail...
Recently, I found myself traveling again. And low and behold, I started this business to teach other women that they too can be empowered and take control of their bodies -- without diets or trainers. As I started dedicating more time to my business, plus working full-time, I found myself going to the gym less frequently (ironic, right?).
I've been through this before. I've traveled before. I've worked out and eaten healthy on the go before. I know what to do! (the cardinal sin, right there. More on this mistake here.) What's my problem? What's wrong with me? Sound familiar? So I started getting down on myself. I had been going to the gym 1-3 times a week and I was eating alright, but I was still eating out more than I should.
Finally, my A-HA moment:
I was super discouraged until I finally realized that failing is the whole reason I've succeeded!
Every time I've "failed," I've gotten back up and gone back to work. Each time I've "failed," I've been able to get up a little bit faster because each time I've progressed from where I had been before.
It's kind of like this:
- If you walk up 5 steps, then fall down 1 step, you're still 4 steps further than you were at the beginning.
- If you walk up 5 more steps and fall down another 1 step, you're 4 steps further again, but you're actually 8 steps further than you were in the beginning.
Huge improvement. The further you climb, the further you progress. Even with your fails.
Do you want to let your failures work in your favor? Snag this free cheat-sheet.
Every time you fail, you're further up the ladder of progression. That means that when you start climbing again (assuming you get yourself up before you fall all the way to the bottom), you'll be further ahead than where you were before. That means you'll be able to start faster, get back into the swing of things faster and progress faster.
It's all part of the game. Even if it's not the fun part.
Let your failures teach you
What's the key to not getting overwhelmed by your failures?
First, learn from your failures and don't let them prevent you from moving forward!
That's what keeps me going. What keeps you going?
Every single time I've failed, I've learned a new, valuable lesson. I may not have recognized it right in the moment, but looking back, here are some of the lessons I've learned from my failures:
- If I exercise less, I also have to eat less. (unless I want to gain weight)
- If I eat fewer calories, I'll lose weight.
- I now know what foods are better options without reading labels.
- If I don't exercise or eat well, I get cranky, unproductive and lose motivation.
- If I do exercise, I'm happier, more productive and less stressed.
- If I learn how to create my own workouts, I can workout wherever I am.
- I know how to workout without any equipment.
- I understand healthy (or healthier) options at restaurants.
- I know how to look for hotels with gyms (and what I'm looking for).
- I'm most likely to workout if I do it first thing in the morning.
- I prefer working out when there are few people at the gym.
- I prefer working out alone.
- I don't like talking to anyone while I workout.
- When I get discouraged, the best thing to do is force myself to show up at the gym.
- When I fail, I have to remember what motivates me, then get up and get to work.
I totally get that it's hard to fail. None of us like failing. But I'm telling you - if you take time to look at the lessons you're learning, it's a little easier to handle.
Celebrate your wins
If you take a look back at how far you've come, you'll probably be surprised. It's easy to face discouragement from all angles. Everything from friends, family and co-workers pressuring you to break good, healthy habits, to negative self talk, to unrealistic pictures on Instagram, Pinterest and other social media. It can be easy to get discouraged, so you have to make a conscious effort to keep yourself motivated.
You need to celebrate your wins!
Give yourself a pat on the back for every pound you lose. For every 1 additional pound that you can lift. For every single better choice you make. Did you skip your beloved Diet Coke today? That's awesome! Celebrate it!
If you focus more on your wins - no matter how big or small they might be, it will be SO MUCH EASIER to see the progress you've made. So you had a piece of chocolate cake today. So what!? Let them judge you. Because you know what? You're in better shape than you've been in in years -- and THAT'S something to celebrate.
So you go ahead and eat your cake because nobody gives 100%, 100% of the time. But YOU... you get up every time you fall and THAT'S what makes the difference.
Remember your successes with this free cheat-sheet.