She sits on the edge of her bed. With her head in her hands she blows out her cheeks and lets out a long puff of air. The week had started out so great. Her meals had been all prepped, neatly labeled and stacked inside the refrigerator. Sunday night she had popped the tags off a fresh set of workout clothes and tossed them in a bag alongside her brand-new shoes. This was going to be it! This time she was not going to turn back. When Monday morning came, she had turned on a motivational track and set her intent firmly for the week. If she were being honest, the first cracks in her plan had come roughly 5 minutes into her workday when bagels and cream cheese had shown up in the break room. She hadn’t eaten any, but it was a block out of her inward Jenga tower of resistance. The road from Monday to Thursday had chipped away at that tower until she sat on the edge of that bed a crumpled mess. Resolve broken and motivation defeated she wrote it off as another failure and, without meaning to, internalized the thought deeper.
“I’m a failure.”
Of course, she didn’t actually think those words. We rarely do. However, if we could connect the riddle dots of her thoughts swirling around inside her brain the picture that would develop would be of just that. Each attempt, each drive thru purchase, each skipped workout and each sipped soda all trail together in a portrait of shame that whispers from within:
“You’ll never get this.”
For some a stumble comes after years of healthy living. For others it is a few months or weeks. For some that stumble comes somewhere between Monday and Thursday. For many of us, that tumble can happen on Monday between breakfast and lunch. As we do the thing we know we ought not do the disgust and shame settles in and that negative cycle of thinking starts to turn.
You need you to hear this today.
We see you trying.
I want you to call BS on your thoughts. Right now. Today.
The system we are living in is a broken one. There is this imaginary picture floating out there in the universe that you are going to make a one time decision, jump on a bandwagon and travel from where you are to where you want to go in one swift smooth line and never look back. Then, every time the wagon changes directions, hits a bump or stops all together you think you have to go back to the start and begin all over again.
Let me help you out here: You are STILL on this journey.
You don’t have to start again. You just have to continue.
That goes for the one who just gave up her diet by lunch time on Monday as well as the one who gained back 50 pounds after losing 40.
This is still your journey, my friend, and you are still on it. The progress you made before isn’t lost even if you backslid!
Because here is what I need you to know: This is a process.
You are learning. You are finding out things about yourself and who you are. You are finding out how you work and how nutrition and fitness works. I’m sorry if you thought you could jump in and work hard for 6 months and get the hot body you’ve always wanted. That girl you saw that did that? You didn’t see behind the scenes. You don’t know the real story. Trust me, there was more to it.
There is just too much crap that we have to wade through to understand and learn how to live healthy. Eat well and exercise sounds all well and good but there are a million mixed messages being sent into our brains and most of us, quite honestly, need to deprogram all the toxic lies and half truths that were taught to us from the time we were in diapers. To believe that we are going to figure all this out in just a single trip around the sun is naïve and a little arrogant if we are just going to be honest.
Imagine, if you will, that I set you down in front of a piano and put sheet music in front of you. I will label all the keys and presuppose that you understand how to read music. Now, every time you mess up, I’m going to call you a name and if you don’t get the entire song right on the first run through, I will dramatically throw the music away and declare you incompetent.
There is literally no skill that we would ever be so dramatic about.
Let’s not be like that about this.
Healthy living is just that. Living. Each day brings new challenges and new learning opportunities. We aren’t going to master them all on the first try. You aren’t going to suddenly decide to be healthy and never touch another donut as long as you live and thinking you will is ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is throwing your whole plan out the window because you did, in fact, eat a donut.
I’m going to be honest with you, that’s an excuse your brain is trying to get you to believe so that you’ll tank this program and go back to giving it sugar and Netflix.
I know you think you’ll never get this or that you tried and failed. You didn’t fail. You are still here and reading this blog right now. Your journey isn’t over. You just have to pick up your stuff and start moving again. Every step counts. Stop thinking that it didn’t. You are teaching your brain to think differently, your body to move differently, your system to process differently. It takes effort and time. You will get this. Just don’t give up.
And listen, this part is very important.
Stop doing this alone. Stop thinking this is all on you. Yes, ultimately, you must be the one to show up and put in the work. You must be the one to make the choices in the hard places. You must fight this battle, but you don’t have keep up some pretense that everything is fine when it is not fine. It is ok if you are not ok. We have all been there! Speak up. Speak out! Say that you are struggling. I promise you that someone nearby is struggling too. Don’t let the negative thoughts settle in on you and make you think you’ve failed. This journey is not easy, my friend. You may have seen some people who you’ve thought have just killed it and are comparing yourself to them. You haven’t seen their behind the scenes. I promise you, it isn’t as pretty as you think it is. It sure as H-E- Double Hockey Sticks wasn’t as easy as you think it was. (I know we are all adults here but double hockey sticks sounded funny and you are taking this way too seriously.)
The world is full of so many messages about health and wellness and right now we live in an age where unhealthy living is celebrated while demanding the ability to balance multiple full plates at once. Give yourself some freaking grace. This stuff is hard! Don’t tank the program because you didn’t knock it out of the ballpark. Keep swinging at the ball.
That’s the only way you’ll ever get a home run.
You’ll never get it on the bench.
Get back in the game and we’ll see you at class.