Friday, April 26, 2013

How To Overcome Fear of Failure When Losing Weight

How do you get back on track with your weight loss after you 'mess up', or how do you try to get healthy when you are afraid you will fail? This was the main question that people on my Facebook page asked to hear about in this next post. Probably the most common, but not necessarily most helpful answer is:
1. Start again NOW! Not tomorrow, and not Monday.
But we all know that, right? So why is there still such a struggle? The thing that I want to address isn't what to do when you mess up, but something that lies behind that–our expectations. In other words, what are you calling a 'mess up'? Or what constitutes 'failure'?
Is a mess up skipping a workout, or eating a cupcake? Or is it not working out for a week and eating 5 cupcakes for a bedtime snack?
Defining your expectations on yourself is key to finding freedom and not fearing failure. And many times we set ourselves up for this 'failure' or feeling of defeat because the expectations that we do set are unrealistic. When we set goals that are so hard and require an insane amount of self-discipline we are most likely going to fail. It has nothing to do with your character as a person, you really do want to change. But self-discipline is like a muscle, and we need to let it grow in strength through small daily choices that will add up over time.
It would be like a new runner starting out saying they will run a marathon next week. We would all tell them that they need to start small. Run a mile, and then increase from there. It's something that you build up to. Of course when I put it that way it makes sense, but when it comes to our own weight loss or eating cleaner why do we expect to be able to accomplish the equivalent of a marathon in a week or two?
Here are my top three steps for establishing realistic expectations:

1. Clarify your expectations

First, answer these questions:
  • What do you want your life to look like? How do you want to feel?
  • How much weight do you want to lose?
  • How many times a week will you eat out or have a 'cheat' meal? (And define what a 'cheat' meal is to YOU!)
  • How many times a week will you exercise and, more importantly, when?
2. Make your expectations more realistic by getting feedback

When you have come up with answers to these questions, share them with someone in your life who can give you honest feedback. This feedback will help you see if you need to adjust your goals. This has to fit within your family and your life or you will quit. (If you have no on around you to support you check out my next 30 Day Challenge group.) Sometimes you need to make a few changes to put yourself first, but sometimes you will have no choice but to figure out how to maximize a 30 minute workout, because you don't have time for a longer one. Know what season of life you are in and what is realistic for you. Don't set yourself up for failure. And yes, there is a fine line between being realistic and making excuses, but be humble enough and love yourself enough to be honest about this.
3. Have a long-term, "Glass-Half-Full" perspective, especially concerning failure

Understand that this is a marathon, and not a sprint. You want to be healthy for life. I think the 'all or nothing' or 'I'm just going to fail' mentality comes in when we see getting healthy as something we have to attain in the next X amount of days or we've messed up. What if you were able to see the one day you ate like a beast as one 'bad' day out of 20? Now does it look so bad? That's 19 days of doing good. And when you get back on track 20 days later that one bad day was one out of 40. (Or what if you allow yourself 1 'cheat' day every 10 days? Then no guilt.) But what usually happens is we think we have blown it and the one day turns into five or ten. Then that causes the scale to go up, which makes us depressed, which makes us quit.
In summary, getting back on track after messing up and never starting because of fear of failure both have to do with proper expectations. So first clarify your expectations, then get feedback from others to make sure the expectations are realistic, and finally, focus more on all of your successes than your failures. Keep on going!
In my next two posts I'll look at two more common pitfalls–so stay tuned!

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