Set backs… we all experience them, right? Maybe we blame them on a family vacation, a lousy week-end, a break in the routine, no time to plan the next day’s snacks, an injury, personal tragedy or a zillion of other things… but they happen to all of us. The question is simply: what to do now? The biggest mistake is for us to think we have to start all over again—and get discouraged! Why would you need to start all over again? You are still way ahead of where you started, aren’t you?
Just take a deep breath and keep going from where you left off.
“Two steps forward, one step back” is kind of a negative way to describe someone who is having trouble making progress. But realistically, you are still going forward, right? You are still coming out ahead. Losing one point isn’t the end of the world–it happens to the best of us.
And actually, if you can consistently win a few more points that you lose, you will wind up a winner.
No matter what the obstacle, or how many of them you have to deal with, what matters is that you tackle them, one at a time. One at a time is the key here. Little steps forwards. John Quincy Adams said that “patience and perseverance have magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” I like that! I also like this quote by Samuel Johnson, “Great works are performed not by strength by perseverance.” I have seen this work so many times in the lives of so many people. And as far as healthy eating and exercising, as long as you’re consistently out-stepping your steps back, you’re ahead of the game.
If you expect perfection, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and guilt.
Guilt can be totally debilitating to your healthy habits. So we messed up. Well, life goes on, doesn’t it? Here is another quote I think is very appropriate and useful: “None of us can change our yesterdays, but all of us can change our tomorrows.” (Collin Powell) This is the place where we have to make a wise choice: to let that guilt plummet us into a cycle that could spit us out worse off than before, or to accept the step back and say “where do I go from here?” Here are some of my tricks that are useful at that point:
- Take a walk in the woods to clear your head and regroup.
- Have a personal “bounce back” motto that will re-energize you. Put it everywhere.
- Take a break if you think you’re trying too hard.
- Return to the basics. Are you making it too complicated and tough on yourself?
- Plan ahead for irregularities in your schedule, call ahead to healthy restaurants, pack healthy snacks.
- Stay aware of what you’re doing. One meal mess up can turn into a one day mess up, a one week mess up if you’re not careful.
- Remind yourself of your success so far when you need a boost.
- Don’t try to fix yesterday by starving yourself today; you know where that leads!
Of course, consistent success is still something to strive for. The 1Step/2Step strategy doesn’t lessen the need to do your best. You should still work hard to keep those steps back from happening. But it helps to be prepared with a plan and a positive attitude for when they do happen…