Imagine that you’ve started a new healthy living crusade. You purge your home completely of all junk food. You spend three hours cleaning, cutting and packaging the fruits and vegetables that you’ll be snacking on all week.
You buy a new 32-ounce water bottle, a new workout outfit and some expensive new walking shoes. Why? Because this time, you’re serious. This time, you’re really going to lose the weight and be the person you’ve often imagined yourself to be.
The workout and diet plan that you purchased has been known to produce fantastic results for myriad individuals — including the co-worker who introduced it to you.
The first week starts without a hitch. Your resolve is tough as nails, and you execute each workout and meal perfectly. One day turns into two, then three, and next thing you know, it’s Friday. You can already feel your clothes loosening and your energy increasing.
At work, you find out that your colleagues are going to your favorite Mexican restaurant to celebrate a co-worker’s promotion. You decide to go to support your co-worker, without the least bit of concern that you will bend under pressure.
You realize, upon receiving your menu, that it probably would have been a good idea for you to review the menu online before arriving, to find a healthier choice. Oops.
You salivate as you struggle to find something better than a cold, unexciting salad. Two of your co-workers order the House Special, a mound of hot rice, chicken, steak, shrimp, onions and peppers, all smothered in melted cheese. You normally order this, and now you can taste it.
As the waiter comes to you, you realize that your will isn’t quite as strong as you thought it was. In a moment of pressure, you say “House Special” before quickly closing your menu and handing it to the waiter.
The food was as good as you imagined it, but after paying for it and heading back to your car, a cloud of guilt overshadows you. You think about how weak you are, and about how you threw everything you’d worked for out of the window. You’re right back at square one.
But wait. Are you really at square one again?
It’s true that you made a bad menu choice and folded under pressure. It’s also true that you might have avoided the situation had you chosen to skip the luncheon or decided ahead of time what to order. But all is not lost!
One of the biggest ways that we mess up when aspiring to develop healthy lifestyles is by throwing in the towel when we slip. We hold ourselves to impossible standards — although we’re still new to a healthy lifestyle. We are simply not fair to ourselves.
I have found from experience that the journey to a healthier life is just that — a journey. You’re going to slip sometimes. Actually, you’ll likely slip several times before getting the hang of it.
When you slip, assuming that you’ve totally failed and jumping headlong back into an unhealthy lifestyle is the worst thing you can do. If you simply get back up and continue, one day you will realize that you’re living the healthy life you’ve dreamed of.
So please, don’t throw in the towel. Health isn’t a quick weekend project. Rather, it’s the project of a lifetime. When you fail, just relax and get back into it with the very next meal or workout. Learn your lesson, and keep on pressing.