Disclaimer: This is not me telling you to workout, diet, or do anything at all. This is just me wanting to challenge myself in this particular area. However, this is me telling you to analyze the things you tell yourself you fail at until you can no longer “fail” at them because this process can quite literally apply to anything.
I’m slowly grooving into a bit of a lifestyle change starting this week and my brain is on fire with all of the ways I can fail at this. So I’m going to vomit all of my thoughts into a blog post.
I love the concept of failing forward. I love the idea that you can fuck something up so many times that you actually can teach yourself how to finally get it right.
For me, being physically fit has never been part of the program. At my largest, at my smallest, and at my in betweenest, I have never been a workout-aholic. I have, however, always admired the discipline behind it.
Like most people I know, I’ve struggled with my body for my entire life. I’ve tried the shakes, and the fasting, and the online programs, and the workout DVDs, and the HIIT classes, and the starving myself, and I can confidently say that change starts in your mind. Working out shouldn’t be a punishment for eating a cookie. Eating a cookie doesn’t solve a hard day. Work out if you want to. Eat a cookie if you want to. But don’t assign those actions a problem to fix.
I’m not going to get into a conversation about body type and dieting right now because I honestly have no business doing so. I have only lived my own experiences, my own successes, and my own “failures”, and I can’t speak on the lives I haven’t lived and the barricades I haven’t faced.
This week, I start a new challenge. A little bit of backstory here: In 2016 I was nearly 230 pounds. By 2018, I was down 100. By the start of 2020, I had gained back about half. The inner work was all there. I had grown leaps and bounds internally but the “wow, you look great!” compliments had stopped and, being that I placed my worth on those, I was struggling. All I wanted was to be small again and I worked really hard to try to be.
Why do we want to be small? Why is it so important to shrink ourselves when we have the capacity to make such big splashes when we don’t fit inside the box? Why does size have to equal self worth?
If anything good has come out of the hibernation period known as 2020, it’s the time I’ve had to truly get to know myself. It’s amazing how loud you can let your own voice be when there aren’t other people around to drown it out.
In March, I got a follow notification from Sara on instagram. I followed her back (love my fellow vegans) and, day after day, found myself more and more intrigued by this woman, her mindset, and her business. As the months went on, I would often find myself inspired by her words and her videos. She was so insanely proud of her clients and so incredibly real about her own process. I felt this pull to work with her, but I couldn’t wrap my head around investing in myself because, every time I had in the past, I had “failed”.
Now, this is where the concept of failing forward comes into play. When I finally took a damn minute to think about it, I realized I had to take responsibility for why I had failed. With all of these diets and fitness routines I had tried in the past, I had put time, and money, and energy, and hopes into these trials. So why had I failed? Three reasons:
Effort – I really thought I could cheat the system. I wasn’t doing as much as I could. I was making excuses and honestly doing the bare minimum and when I would see the lack of results, I would use it as my reasoning for why I shouldn’t be working harder because “it doesn’t work anyway!”
Standards – I had psychotic expectations. If I wasn’t doing one thing perfectly, I considered the whole day a failure. Ate a couple of potato chips? Failed. Finished one rep shy? Failed. Ate before noon? Failed. If the day wasn’t perfect, it was lost and I was angry with myself.
Reason – This is probably the most important one. I forgot to have a valuable reason for sticking to it. I hate admitting this on here because I didn’t admit it to myself until today, but my reason was “to be attractive”. I wanted other people to like how I looked. How can anyone succeed with that as their motivator? If everyone is attracted to different things, how can I base my success on the rubric of an entire society? Oh, right. I can’t.
So, why did I go through all of these different diet and exercise programs in the past and not try harder, or set more realistic expectations, or have a more useful “why” to motivate me? Fear. That’s it. That’s the thing that holds most people back from most things. I didn’t actually think I could do it. No part of me actually believed I had it in me to achieve my ideal physique. I was just kind of planking my way through life all while hoping I would one day wake up, look in the mirror, and be like “Hey! Look! Abs!”
There’s a hope that floats around the type of failure associated with not having tried your hardest. The idea that we could have done it (we just didn’t really try) is rooted in the fear of failure. If I allow myself to fall into “out-of-my-control” excuses, the failure is not on me. If I tell the excuses to go fuck themselves, and I go hard, how could I possibly fail? Most people would rather fail at something they didn’t put all of their gusto into because then they never really fully failed. They get to walk around with a little voice that says “You’ll get ‘em next time, tiger! Yeah! Next time, you’ll really bring your A-game!” Well, when do we finally bench our B-game?
So, I made a choice. I have spent my 20’s in the body of an 80 year old woman. As I turn 30 in a month, I’ve decided my birthday present to myself this year needs to be a sustainable form of self-care that could change that… and this is the week where it all begins.
I’m really excited. My whole mindset going into this is so crazy different than it would have been a year ago. I am simply not focused on the bikini body, the flat tummy, or the number on the scale. I’m focused on feeling good. I’m excited to treat my body with the respect of nutritious and fueling foods 80% of the time, while happily scarfing down Oreos the other 20% without guilt. I’m excited to feel energized and strong. I’ve decided I deserve the damn endorphins and to feel that good kind of sore that reminds you that you’re working hard for you.
The thing is, everyone is different. I could eat and work out the exact same way as someone else and we can still look completely different. So, the aesthetically pleasing physique (that I’ve chased after for my entire life) may never come and the weird thing is, I’m actually at peace with that because I’m way more invested in the internal serenity and pride than the external changes.
So, this weekend, I got an email from Sara with a whole bunch of information breaking everything down perfectly. There was so so so so so much info and I immediately felt overwhelmed. I wasn’t overwhelmed by how much I needed to take in and break down. I was overwhelmed because this woman was literally making it impossible for me to fail. She was sending me every iota of material I could possibly need to succeed and as I watched my 10-15 years worth of excuses fly out the window, I couldn’t help but envision myself failing once more. And then… I got another email from her. She followed up by basically telling me this process won’t be easy or perfect and that I needed to celebrate my wins and not overthink my mistakes. And, in that moment, I let go. The mistakes were expected and I could make as many as I needed to as long as I remembered to be proud of my high points.
Distracted by all of these thoughts earlier, I took a wrong exit while driving. The highway I ended up on had an immediate failsafe. There was one of those whoops-wrong-turn exit ramps right after I got on to give drivers the option to go back and try again. Those are pretty common because mistakes are pretty common. That’s when I realized, it’s really fucking hard to fail if you actually prepare. A whole bunch of someone’s literally prepared the highway for people who might need another chance.
So, I went home to my email full of ways to succeed, count my wins, accept my mistakes, and I prepared.
This week, I started. I did not do everything right or perfectly but, for the first time, I still felt good and proud regardless. I fully acknowledged each win and I took note of each mistake. I got my endorphins. I got my good-kind-of-sore.
I feel like we spend so much of our lives looking for someone to take care of us. Well, there is a huge shift in mindset that comes along with the realization that we can be our own caretaker and, today, I feel very taken care of.