I failed this week, like big time failed. I had started my 4th round of Whole30 (on Super Bowl Sunday, not the best plan FYI) and made it about 6 days in and, BAM, pizza. It was full-on gluten filled, spicy pepperoni and cheesy yumminess that called to me. But honestly it wasn’t that great. I ate the entire slice, knowing full well that I had not only fallen off the wagon, but had been run over by the bus that had been following behind.
You see, I have been gluten free for years due to a sensitivity that causes cramping and bloating, sort of like carrying around a 12# bowling ball in the middle of my intestines. So not only had I deviated from the Whole30 specific criteria, I had set myself up to feel horrible for a few days to come.
Reasons and excuses
Why? Because secretly I was hoping that having avoided gluten for years would have “healed” my gut and I would again be able to enjoy eating whatever I wanted without having to think so hard about what was in it. Maybe you can relate. Ordinarily, it doesn’t really bother me. Like I mentioned, I have done multiple Whole30 rounds and had been eating a very clean, gluten free diet for years. But on this day, I just wanted to be “normal”.
Plus it was easy and I was unprepared.
Failure is good sometimes though, when you learn from it. We spend so much effort trying to avoid failure, when in reality it can be a wise teacher.
I learned a lot from that piece of pizza (and the breadstick). I learned that I do, in fact, still have a negative reaction to eating gluten, and to eating junk food in general, because let’s face it, there is no valuable nutrition in pepperoni pizza.
I learned perspectives change.
****I suppose in my head I rationalized eating a gluten filled pizza crust and breadstick would be worth it because, by golly, it was going to be this delicious, mouth watering, comfort-offering experience. NOT TRUE. In hindsight, the days of abdominal discomfort I experience, were not worth the subpar slice I scarfed down in a lunch rush. Pizza is off my “worth it” list. What are some things (food choices, behaviors, etc.) that you often find yourself rationalizing? If you honestly look at them now, do they still belong on your “worth it” list?
I learned that having had success in the past does not guarantee success in the future.
****I got cocky. I had successfully completed other rounds of Whole30, so I could certainly do it this time. I didn’t need to go through all the preparation and planning. I knew what I could eat and what I should avoid and that was that. NOT TRUE. I didn’t plan and prepare so when I had a weak moment there was no safety net to fall back on. You’ve heard the saying, “FAIL TO PLAN, PLAN TO FAIL.”
I learned that knowing WHY is as important as knowing HOW/WHAT.
****This might fall into the previous lesson a little bit, but it is so much more. I didn’t set a clear WHY for me to be changing up my eating style at this particular time. I had a date that I wanted to start and end, but no reason to follow through. So when things got tough or didn’t seem to be working out as planned, or something seemingly better came along, I bailed from my path. The thought of WHAT I was doing (whole30) was not enough to keep me focused. Can you see how not having a goal and not establishing my WHY allowed me to drift off course at the slightest temptation? Maybe you have been there too. It’s okay.
Finding clarity in failure
Failure is only truly a failure if the outcome has no effect.
If you plan to start a new exercise program and miss a day or two, is your workout goal a failure? Not if you get back on board, or learn from it and plan your schedule differently or get creative in getting in your activity in for each day.
If you try a new recipe and it seems like a disaster, is it a failure? Not if you learned about a new ingredient or style of cooking that you can apply to something else.
What I have come to realize this week in the wake of poor choices is this; I can either allow myself to be derailed by those choices and a perceived failure, OR I can re-evaluate the goal, redefine and clarify WHAT I am working towards (learn about vision setting here) and WHY it is important to me. That way when road blocks pop up, as they certainly will, I can be prepared to swerve around them and avoid falling into their trap. I will have a clear course and a solid reason to work through the hard stuff. All that is left is figuring out the best way to get from where I am to where I want to be.
So let me encourage you this week, as you are struggling to keep working toward a goal you had set. Reflect back on why you started to begin with. Draw on that motivation to focus in the hard times. If you have completely strayed from your goal or feel like you have failed in an area of life, take a step back and see what you can learn from the experience. Then start again.
Resources for moving forward
One of the best resources for helping you be prepared to efficiently handle road blocks and pitfall on the path to change are health coaches. Health coaches help you establish the HOW (the action steps) to get you to your WHAT (your vision or goal).
Sometimes the lesson in the failure is ironic. As I am getting ready to launch my own health coaching business, there is God, with a reminder of just how valuable these skills can be. Showing that even sometimes the coach needs to take a lesson out of her own playbook and become the student.