In every journey, there will be failures and setbacks. Every journey. Even if you are the most disciplined and obedient person who doesn’t make any mistakes themselves1, injuries or external forces will crop up. That’s life. And despite the mindset we have about failure, it’s not a completely negative thing. It teaches us about ourselves, our bodies, and if we approach it right, it can give us the grit and courage to withstand the challenges that life can throw and you, or that might crop up from within.
I struggle with failure and personal shortcomings, especially where my eating is concerned. Yesterday was a particularly bad step backwards in terms of nutritional choices and self-restraint. Instead of launching into the long list of excuses I have for why things happened the way they did2, I will just give the chronology.
Yesterday was a rest day on my training schedule, which means I have to stick to 2,000 calories. I dropped my daughter off to her morning daycare, and went to the Starbucks at which I go to get work done. As I walked in, I reminded myself that I shouldn’t buy any snacks there; the two bananas I had in my bag were the only food I should eat before lunch. Almost as soon as I had that thought, I had the following thought, “Yeah? Well, fuck it!” and proceeded to buy two of their new Evolution bars. After I had lunch with my daughter, we went to the grocery store, and I stopped for an iced coffee at the in-store Starbucks3. I immediately decided to buy a packet of Mixed Fruit and Nuts, rationalizing that I should have as many as possible between now and when they get phased out, which a barista told me is currently underway. That decision brought to 580 the number of unplanned calories I had consumed, and with dinner put me over my 2,000 calories.
As an aside, I also allowed my daughter to have a chocolate cake pop in addition to the cookie I gave her at lunch. I noticed yesterday that this has become a disturbing and selfish trend of living vicariously through allowing her to eat unhealthily. On some level, I get satisfaction from the process of merely buying the junk food, the initial step of the consumption4. I had an epiphany yesterday that I had been doing this, and felt like a horrible mother when I realized what I had been unconsciously feeding my child. I obviously won’t be letting her have any unhealthy treats from now on, and I chose to lay it out here to show just how ugly overeating can be.
Once we got home and after my daughter was in bed, I worked out to run catch up with my calorie consumption, which brought me to about 9:30pm. I was about to take a shower and get into bed by ten when I spotted a Russell Stover Pecan Delight on top of the fridge. My husband had left two of them there for weeks, and they hadn’t posed any issues for me. But last night, I decided to roll back all my calorie tracking, my gluten-free diet, my quest to change my eating habits, all my good work, and instead give into my weakness and eat the Pecan Delights. Worse still, the surrender to my shortcomings was premeditated. I consciously decided to give in. I could only find one of the Pecan Delights – obviously my husband had eaten the other at some point – and so I decided I was somehow “owed” a replacement indulgence. After all, if I was going to fall down, I should do so properly. The only appetizing thing I could find was a slice of chocolate fudge cake in the freezer, and 235 calories of terrible eating later, I was done ruining my diet. For the fudge cake, I remember thinking that as I have a 10 mile run coming up this weekend, I should be pre-fueling. After I was done giving into junk food, I googled long run diets, and the “fueling” you need to do can be accomplished with a banana or a bagel. A large slice of fudge cake was nowhere on the list of suggested foods. I knew it wouldn’t be; that’s why I put off researching it until after I had eaten it.
I don’t want to go back to being unhealthy. I don’t want to be 190 lbs again. I don’t want to let things slide. I know that the maintenance phase is the riskiest time for a diet. I know these things. But when I am having a weak moment, no part of my brain seems to be having those thoughts. I tell myself that next time I am staring down the barrel of a chocolate fudge cake to remember how I felt when I was overweight. To remember how hard I worked to get where I am. To remind myself that it’s not worth it. But those thoughts are no where to be found.
In previous posts, I have identified that I am an overeater and come up with one sentence solutions that are going to fix the problem (I’m not going to eat any more PB, I’m only going to have 2.4K cals/day, etc.). I am now beginning to believe that I have been overly simplistic with those approaches.
First, I think by labeling myself an overeater, I am essentially giving myself a mental pass on that behaviour. I have decided that I am somehow intrinsically incapable of controlling myself with food, so I have to work around that issue instead of through it. What if I had made the grand proclamation that I was an “under-exerciser”, that I couldn’t be expected to workout as much as much or as regularly as it took to meet my goals? Simply put, I wouldn’t have lost the weight. It took a lot of hard work to meet my goals, and I met that challenge head on.
Keeping the weight off will require me to be accountable, to stop making excuses or looking for quick-fixes, and to address this issue with the same amount of effort that it took to lose the weight. I won’t end this post with my latest one-sentence fix for my food issues. I will end with the promise to myself to read up on overeating, to work hard, to own my failures, and to strive toward getting it right. I am committed to the process. I just don’t know what it is yet. And that’s okay.
1That description certainly does NOT apply to me!
21. I had two migraines last week and the postdrome phase makes it hard to have self-control 2. I have better self-control the other 27 days of the month 3. This close to the half-marathon, I have been training really hard 4. I don’t agree with this philosophy, but a number of weight loss experts believe a cheat day is good 5. Thanks to biological homeostasis, one serving of junk food won’t actually fatten you up quite the way it should.
None of these excuses make a difference because there is always some reason to quit or give yourself a pass.
3Spot the emerging theme?
4I have had issues with a shopping addiction in the past, basically any form of consumption will do
- How to turn failure into a learning experience (holykaw.alltop.com)
- the art of failure (apartment-wife.com)
- Congratulations, you have failed. (writewelldaily.wordpress.com)
- Failures are the Pillars of Success: (buyelectronicsproducts.wordpress.com)
- Whats the secret of success? Failure (hiscox.co.uk)
- The Courage to Fail (brucepittman.net)
- Failure is only postponed success as long as courage coaches ambition. The habit of persistence is the habit of victory. (philosiblog.com)
- Succeeding in Failure (brucepittman.net)
- Success is Not Final, Failure is Not Fatal (lifehack.org)