People love telling themselves that they’ve screwed up and that they may as well throw in the towel!
One day off track with their diet, well that’s my diet down the drain!
Missing a workout, may as well give up, all my gains are gone!
Honestly it’s something that I see time and time again. One minor hiccup and they are ready to give up. And it’s such a shame because it stops people accomplishing their goals.
Which is why I spend a huge amount of time explaining that no matter what has happened, all is not lost. Actually these ‘screw ups’ can end up being really useful in the long-run.
There’s two things I always recommend people do; first is to look at what’s happened and the lessons you can draw from it. The second thing is just to get right back to what you were doing before.
I once had a client who was doing great with their diet, making fantastic progress and then came in to train one day in floods of tears. She’d been out for dinner the night before to Wagamamas, she thought she’d picked a sensible option and it ended up being really high in calories. She was convinced that she’d blown all of her progress.
Once she’d calmed down we looked at the menu and listed the options she could go for next time, then we just got right back to what she was doing before. Not only did her progress continue but she was able to go to Wagamamas from then on feeling good, knowing what to go for and avoiding any issues like that happening again. It was a good thing!
Unfortunately too many people are used to ‘failing’.
They’ve spent so long starting fad diets and then giving up, signing up to the gym classes and then never going. It’s almost hard wired into them that whatever they are doing won’t last and will inevitably end in failure. It’s a case of when not if.
I’ve just finished a brilliant book by Ryan Holiday called The Obstacle is the Way. The key message in the book is that more often than not obstacles provide us with an opportunity to learn, grow and overcome them. When we look at them like this we realise that all obstacles can be overcome, they don’t need to be barriers that stand in our way.
There will be a reason something happened and that reason offers you an opportunity to learn.
Perhaps you went out for dinner and massively overate, but this was because you hadn’t eaten all day. Next time eat more during the day, simple.
If you really can’t bring yourself to go to the new gym you’ve signed up for think about why. Is it the gym itself, is it intimidating, too difficult to get too, is it asking too much of yourself if you’ve not been exercising at all. These reasons can tell you how to respond and take positive action.
This thought process can apply to your diet, your training programme or any other challenge or project in your life. We just need to reframe the experience, it doesn’t need to be a failure or the end of the road. We just need to look at why it’s happened, the lessons we can learn, and the steps we can take to avoid it happening again. These learning opportunities can actually be the key to your long-term success if you allow them to be.
Another important part of avoiding these ‘screw-ups’ causing us to give up is keeping them in perspective, looking at the bigger picture.
A friend of mine once said to me that, “it’s not the goal that causes stress, it’s the timeframe attached to it”.
If you’ve been going to the gym for a week and then you go on holiday for a week, it’s easy to think that you’ve cancelled out any progress. But what about if you look at your training over six weeks instead. You come back from that holiday and then train for a further five weeks, now that’s only one missed week in six and really no big deal.
This bigger picture approach works with dieting too. A dieting strategy I often use with the people I work with is to view their calories as a budget and to look at that budget across the week rather than just day to day. This means that if they have a higher calorie day coming up they can reduce for a few days before. More importantly though, if they get caught off guard by a meal out or something, and eat more than planned, they can reduce in the days after.
Having the ability to balance out their calorie intake like this means that providing they just get back to it, and continue as they were, that high day doesn’t in any way need to ruin their progress.
All they need to do is keep going! Whether it’s your training, your diet, or anything else you’re working towards, just keep going.
You don’t get in fantastic shape by going to the gym once, it takes repeated workouts over time. Well for that exact reason one missed workout or one day off track with your diet won’t ruin your progress either.
Another helpful way of thinking about your long-term progress is to imagine you have two jars, a credit and a debit jar. Each time you do a workout for example an imaginary coin goes in your credit jar, and each time you miss a workout you put an imaginary coin in the debit jar.
Providing you are consistent you are going to build up far more coins in that credit jar. Which means that one missed workout, and one solitary coin in that debit jar really doesn’t matter.
Again, you can extend this further and use it to make you realise that holidays and longer durations of breaks in your diet and training don’t need to be spell the end either.
The key point in all of these circumstances is just to get back to what you were doing before.
No matter how badly you think you’ve screwed up you haven’t F’ed it!
Just keep it in perspective and keep going!