So you fell out of your fitness and nutrition routine — you’re a failure, right? By definition, yes, but all is not lost!
Few things are more difficult than getting back on the wagon after you fail. It’s easy to get embarrassed and wallow in self-pity when you have a lapse in your diet or workout routine. It takes courage to admit that you did indeed treat that entire box of frozen taquitos as a single-serving meal. It takes a brave soul to own up to pouring maple syrup on plain white bread and stuffing it in your mouth before your wife comes in the room. You’re not alone in this.
Everyone fails, and the best part is they fail all the time. Let’s get you back on track.
Failure is the default setting.
Humanity is basically one big pile of failure. Albert Einstein couldn’t really talk until he was 4 and was expelled from school. Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout and Abraham Lincoln lost businesses, suffered a mental breakdown and lost his first Senate bid before going on to be one of the most important figures in American history. And here you are concerned that you took two weeks off from the gym.
Everyone fails. Look at even the best, most profitable stock market investments. It’s never just a straight line up like some stock photo you ironically caption for your Tumblr account. There are hills and valleys all over that thing — just like with you. You’ll have mini-successes and mini-failures constantly as you learn and grow. Look at these hiccups as minor setbacks that are statistically to be expected. Keep your end goal in mind and get back on the horse because if you’ve failed at something, you’re in pretty good company.
Don’t throw a pity party.
It can be very tempting to wallow in your own misery. It’s like curling up in a personal sadness slow cooker of delicious beef and barley sadness stew and simmering until you’re melt-in-the-mouth tender … with sadness. It’s comforting to feel this way, but that comfort is a trap. Humans are dumb. We made rockets that went to the moon, but we also tweet pictures of our butts to each other. Typically, people don’t do something unless they’re being rewarded for it somehow.
New research is being done on how some people experience positive reactions to negative emotions. This is for sure true, at least with me. Whenever I’m throwing myself a pity party (usually immediately following a pizza party), I figure out that I’m actually getting something out of it. Usually, it’s attention or the opposite — time to myself, time to think or a little extra affection from loved ones. But none of that stuff is helping me with my health goals. I combat this by getting off my ass and back in the gym.
One of my personal hurdles arose when I cheated on my diet. I would get bummed out and think, “I’m already off my diet, better make the most of it!” Then I would just shove pizza rolls into my mouth until I started hallucinating from all the chemicals like a carb shaman on a vision quest for diabetes.
Eating keto helped cut down on those kinds of binges, but even before that, I started to figure out that I could cut myself some slack and break the cycle of shame. I have saved my grocer’s freezer section from ransacking by not beating myself up for making a small mistake. That’s a win in my book.
There’s no such thing as too late.
People like to put fictional restrictions on everything. They like to tell themselves that it’s “too late” to make a difference. It’s never too late. Colonel Sanders was in his 60s when he founded KFC, and I was already an educated college graduate when I ate five Double Downs on a dare.
One of the great things about bodybuilding and exercise is that even if you fall off the wagon for long periods, your muscles have “muscle memory,” which allows for you to rapidly catch back up to your previous physique. This has been scientifically tested in laboratories with athletes, and it was proved that muscles snapped back to their training strength and volume rapidly after a period of non-training.
This means that if you’ve fallen off the wagon hard, you can expect to be back to close to your “on the wagon” muscle fitness within a shorter amount of time than it initially took you. It’s almost as if your body is handing out discounted rejoin memberships. It’s a deal too good to pass up.
There’s no shame in screwing up your diet or falling behind with your exercise — we’re in this thing for the long haul. Committing to a lifestyle change takes a lifetime. You have plenty of time to screw up and get back on that wagon. Look at the big picture: A failure here and there is nothing in the grand scheme of things.
You’re trending upward and you’re already doing better than before. Forgive yourself. In fact, maybe embracing the idea that screwing up isn’t the end of the world will actually help you stay on track. Now get back out there, champ!
Andrew DeWitt is a stand-up comic, writer, illustrator and dad living in Los Angeles. He won the TruTV Development Award at the New York Television Festival for his comedy docuseries Mike and Andrew Try to Lose Some Weight. He’s written for E-How, Bro Science Life, GeeksterInk and Sky Does Gaming. DeWitt also has worked as a former voice actor for Action Figure Therapy and has appeared multiple times on Jimmy Kimmel Live as a sketch actor. He hosts The Andrew DeWitt Show podcast.