“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.” ~C.S. Lewis
This post is for those who have the before and after pics and who, for whatever reason, have found themselves back at the “before” picture. Unfortunately I encounter this a lot. In fact, I’ve been there before! Maybe not to the extreme of most, but I have absolutely been there. In college, I had my eating locked down. It wasn’t anything super strict but I was disciplined and balanced. I ate moderately, listened to my body, and I looked great. Then I started reading fitness magazines and following a bunch of fitness people and I lost my way. Instead of listening to my body, I blindly followed whatever newest “thing” that was supposed to give me that perfect body. Instead of making small reasonable changes, I tried to overhaul the whole system at once. It did lead to some weight gain, but even worse it lead to years of eating extremes.
Whatever your specific experience is, it’s one of the most disheartening and frustrating things. Add in the mind games we play with ourselves and the second, or third, time around becomes That. Much. Harder. So how do we do it? How do we get back to where we want to be and then stay there??
Here are a few things I’ve taken away from my experience…..
Learn from the 1st time
Learn to fail or fail to learn. ~Tal Ben Shahar
The only way the first experience becomes a waste is if you don’t learn from it and use it to help yourself make better choices this time around. Sometimes the answer is simple: you got hurt and got out of the routine. Sometimes it’s more complicated, but here are 2 of the biggest reasons I find when talking with clients:
1) The way you achieved your results was unsustainable for your life and enjoyment.
Maybe for a time, it seemed worth it to give up all your favorite foods and your social life. Until you achieved the desired results and started to realize it wasn’t enough and you wanted more out of life. Unfortunately, when you only know “on” or “off”, the only option is “off”. Find a plan that allows for some middle ground!
2) Your mindset.
Many assume they can go back to eating however they want after they achieve their desired physique. Maybe you never figured out how to make healthy eating and regular workouts enjoyable enough to keep them up when the going got tough. For me, I was so critical of myself. I never gave myself a win. I never learned how to appreciate and love my body, so I never felt like my results were good enough and that led me to keep searching for something new even when I was healthy, my eating was solid and balanced, and I looked the way I did.
I cannot even begin to tell you how huge and impactful working on improving my mindset has been for so many areas of my life. But I’ve definitely come to believe that it is absolutely necessary for a lifestyle that is both healthy and enjoyed.
Then LET IT GO
Learn from your experience, then it’s time to let it go.
Once I realized what I had had in college, I had a really hard time letting it go. Every time I slipped up, I thought about how I wouldn’t have had this problem if I had just stuck with it back then. It increased my already negative emotions and critical & harsh talk towards myself. I was “weak and stupid and undisciplined and didn’t deserve to be a trainer” and I reminded myself of this regularly.
The only way this served me was to increase my belief that I could never get back there.
The fact is that the present you is all you have to work with. Time to put on the big girl (or boy! 😉 ) panties and get to work. As the C.S. Lewis quote says, you just need to get back on the right road. You did it once. You can absolutely do it again! It’ll be a lot easier once you let go of what used to be and start telling yourself and believing that you can and you will.
Go back to the basics
One thing I kept trying to do was go back to the same things I did in college, but I couldn’t figure out why those things weren’t working for me anymore! The thing is I was in a totally different stage of life, so my priorities, responsibilities, hormones, stress levels, sleep requirements, and schedule were all different. The right road might not be the same road as last time. In other words, what worked for you the first time might not work this time around. It might be, but it might not be and that’s OK! If it’s not and you’re struggling with what to do…..
Go back to the basics. Be consistent with the basics. Build the foundation. Focus on the most important things first.
Keep in mind, for whatever reason, this is where God has you right now and He is using this second go-around to refine you & to make you even better. Don’t fight it. Don’t regret it. Keep pressing forward.