I think one of the biggest life lessons I've learned lately is that failing really doesn't have to be failure. I swear that wasn't a typo. That sounds kind of weird, right? But really, sometimes you have to fail a few times to gain the knowledge, motivation, and ability to succeed. Failing is always a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow. And really, it's your choice. Choose to fail or choose to succeed.
It's that simple.
No one says that if you fail a certain amount of times your chance is over. You can fall on the ground 100 times and still choose to get up, dust yourself off, figure out what tripped you or what you stumbled on, and try again over and over and over.
The first time I really learned this lesson was when I quit smoking.
When I quit smoking the first few times (the first few times = about 10 times) I went through what every non-smoker goes through at some point - the thought that I can smoke just one cigarette and be fine. That stupid thought got me into trouble each time. That "just one" always turned into "just one more" or "just one more pack." You get where this is going. After many times of hating myself for smoking again I finally realized that the "just one more" nonsense will get me in trouble. That if I'm going to quit, there can't ever be a "just one more." It has to be a "never again." I failed enough that I finally learned and succeeded. Here I am three and half years later, smoke free.
And that "just one more" bullshit will never happen again. Not a chance.
Losing weight is the same. Sometimes you have to fail a few times to understand what it takes to succeed. Last year I lost 35-40 lbs mostly due to taking classes at Martial Arts USA and some somewhat healthy eating. By somewhat I mean that I would eat healthy for a week or two and then binge eat on junk all weekend. I would lose, gain, lose, gain, etc. Sometimes those junk weekends would turn into junk weeks. I really want to kick myself when I think about how much I would have lost had I stuck with the healthy eating and not let myself get so off track at times.
Shoulda, woulda, coulda, I guess.
But, this is where I learned to succeed at losing weight. By learning what I can't do and what I don't want to ever do again.
I don't ever again want to feel like the elastic in my martial arts pants are digging into my skin.
I don't ever again want to feel like I'm one side kick away from ripping that ass out of my pants.
I don't ever again want to feel like I'm slow and out of shape.
I don't ever again want to feel embarrassed that my clothes don't fit right.
I don't ever again want to feel like I'm never going to get to my goal weight.
I don't ever again want to feel like people judge my abilities in martial arts because I'm overweight.
I don't ever again want to feel like it's pointless to put effort into my appearance because I'm too fat.
So how do I keep myself from feeling that way? By taking my past weight loss failures and learning from them.
Through my failures I have learned that one meal isn't going to make me skinny, just like one meal isn't going to make me fat. One of my biggest failures was eating poorly at one meal and then using that as an excuse to eat poorly for the rest of the day. I was telling myself that eating one bad meal ruined that day in a healthy eating sense and it didn't matter what I ate for the rest of the day. The day was screwed anyway. It was usually during these times that I would almost make myself sick with junk food. Like I thought that I was never going to get the chance to eat that food again so I was going to just cram it in.
You know what happened when I did that?
Usually that one day turned into two or three. Sometimes it turned into weeks. It had this horrible snowball effect that was hard to slow down. I would eat like crap so then I felt like crap. When I felt like crap, I ate like crap. It was a hard cycle to break and the longer it went on, the harder it was to get back on track.
I just kept shuffling around the same 10-15 lbs. over six months or so. I would lose it over a few weeks and then gain it back. It was frustrating and I wonder about what kind of stress I was putting my body through doing that. It couldn't have been good.
I also used to be a Monday person. If I had a goal, I would always start working towards it on a Monday. Now I say screw Mondays! My Monday mentality was just a sorry excuse to put something off for a few days. This is another one of those things that through failure I learned that I can't let myself do. Just like the "just one more cigarette" bullshit, I can't rely on the "next Monday" crap either.
Now, if I eat poorly for one meal, I get back on track for the next meal. Or, if I get off track for a day, I get back on track the next. I know that if I wait until Monday I'm going to gain weight, be pissed that I didn't make any progress, and I end pushing myself away from my goal instead of towards it.
We are human. We make mistakes. Junk food tastes good and sometimes even the healthiest of people are going to cave and eat that pizza or donut. Over the last month I've had two weekend events that resulted in me eating poorly. The difference this time was that I got right back on track and the biggest surprise was that even though I ate poorly for that one meal, I still hit my goal weight loss for the week. I didn't let that one meal defeat me. That, my friends, to me was a great success.
Now, I am one month in and 13 lbs. down. I've still got a long way to go to get to my goal but I've never felt better about where I am and where I'm going. Thanks to my failures, I feel like I am equipped with the right knowledge and motivation to succeed.
I know that I will continue to succeed because I have failed.