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At Stronger U, we talk a lot about success. And, if we’re being honest, it makes a lot of sense why that happens to be the case. With more than 25,000 clients who have lost a combined +250,000lbs, we’re left drowning in success more often than we aren’t.
But today, rather than talking about success, I want to talk about the people whose stories didn’t end in success. I want to talk about the people who, regardless of how hot they started, ended by screwing up their diets royally and never got back on track. I want to talk about all the failures out there. And I want to provide a solution for every person who has screwed up their diet and been unable to right the ship.
So, to tell their story, I thought it might be best to tell one of my own.
Buckle up. It’s story time.
Brief aside: Feel free to skip the story if you want and check out the tips at the end. The tips are great and you’ll definitely get something from them. But, if you do, please text your mom and tell her she raised a quitter.
Oh, and one more author’s note: The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Especially you, Jenny Beckman.
The boy, Nick, of Mount Washington (KY), grew up believing he’d eventually meet “the one.“ This belief stemmed from early exposure to sad 90’s punk music and a total misreading of the movie ‘The Graduate.’ The girl, Emma, of Winthrop (GA), grew up believing in everything except “the one.”
Nick met Emma on October 23rd — both attending their freshman year of college — and Nick knew (almost immediately) that Emma was who he had been searching for.
Over the course of a year, after they met, Nick (a long time chubby kid) lost over 100 pounds in an attempt to swoon his newfound love interest. Emma, impressed with Nick’s dedication to change his body and his life, decided to give Nick a chance.
(Yes, I know these are blurry mirror pics. Camera phones and I have both come along way.)
And it was at this point I’d love to tell you how Nick and Emma went on to live a long and happy life together.
…except they didn’t.
This is a story of boy-meets-girl,
but you should know upfront:
This is not a love story.
(cue the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack)
For a short time after Nick’s initial weight loss, he and Emma were like two peas in a pod. They were crazy about each other. And it seemed like all of Nick’s hard work had really paid off.
Anywhere he went, she went.
And anywhere she went, well…she just didn’t tell him about.
And that, my friends, is what we call a turn in the story.
Slowly, during the next few months, our two lovers began to drift apart.
Emma eventually moved on, found a new curly-headed boyfriend that was in no way an improvement over Nick, got a job at a Catholic school, and promptly fell head over heels for her new suitor.
Nick spent the next few months indulging in acts that would (now) get him fired while listening to Blink-182 on repeat.
Oh, and he gained 20 pounds.
The seasons came and went. And slowly, as he managed to let go of the 90’s emo kid music, Nick found his way out of that heart-broken stupor. Unfortunately, he found this staring directly back at him.
Extremely discouraged by his aesthetic set-back, Nick made the decision to once again take control of his life and shed the weight.
Except for this time, something strange happened.
Unable to get his mindset in the right place, Nick quickly found himself in a vicious cycle of failure and disappointment.
This was a multi-step cycle, with each step escalating and feeding into the next.
That cycle went a little like this:
Like I said earlier, this is not a love story.
This is a story of how a boy overcame dietary failure.
And a story about how you can, too.
Leading up until Nick’s nutritional breakthrough, was the repeated search for motivation.
Or something like that.
Whereas before, Nick was fueled by the thought of a pretty girl with dark brown eyes and some sort of stigma against picking up hair clips. Now, though, he was left scrolling through motivational memes and inspirational YouTube videos.
Every now and then, Nick would find a flicker of inspiration. He would spend the next few days watching what he ate and crushing his workouts. But, as quickly as the motivation had found him, it left all the same.
The tail end of these cycles always ended in a similar fashion: a day of skipped workouts, meals blown, and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. At this point, Nick would (once again) spend weeks searching for some sort of motivation.
After having repeated that process more times than Nick would like to admit, one morning he woke to find himself amongst the wreckage of the previous night’s failure.
This morning was different though.
Instead of marinating in despair, Nick simply got up, threw away the pizza boxes laying astray in his apartment, and made a single decision:
The decision to try again.
That same day Nick went to the gym, watched what he ate, and decided that he might as well just keep doing that. And that is what he did. Day after day.
Truth be told, I’d love to tell you what took hold of Nick in this moment—but I can’t. And to be honest, I’m not sure he knew what was different this time either.
But, since you’re here, here’s my guess…
One of the hardest parts of jumping back on a diet is the fresh sting from your previous failures. Even harder than that is the fear that your goals are unreachable.
In order to really move forward, Nick had to be willing to let go of his recent failures.
The number one mistake people make when coming back from any failure is they feel the need to immediately make up for the damage that is done.
And that same mistake was one that Nick finally had to overcome.
Realizing that he was living within a never-ending cycle, Nick made a decision. Rather than attempting to fix the cycle, Nick decided he was going to break the damn thing. Instead of getting caught up in his repeated failure and the discouragement of his continued regression, he was going to start anew.
Because if the quickest way to get nowhere is to stay focused on where you’re coming from… then it’s only by letting go of the past, and focusing on where you want to go, that you’ll ever get there.
But, that’s just my guess.
You’ll have to ask Nick about that one.
Upon deciding to try again, Nick began looking back at his first major fitness journey; the time he lost 100 pounds.
Of course, Nick didn’t have another 100 pounds to lose, but successes often leave clues in their wake. And Nick wanted to steal a few of those clues from his previous accomplishments.
When Nick originally changed his body, he did so by following a handful of simple guidelines:
That was it.
On the surface, you would think those 4 things above are the exact recipe for success. But if we look a little deeper, we can see the precise difference between what Nick had then and what Nick has now.
In the past, Nick had a plan and he followed it consistently.
No bouts of intense exercise or extreme dieting. Just the daily execution of a sustainable nutrition plan and an exercise program he enjoyed.
This is where Nick got really real with himself.
Understanding that he was at a point in which he would naturally feel the urge to overdo things (i.e; extreme diets, silly cardio, some wrap that Susie at school wouldn’t shut up about), Nick decided to outsource his fitness efforts. Nick, a 100-pound loser, was no stranger to the nutrition game — but he was beginning to understand how easily we can get in our own way.
To offset this, Nick hired his first coach.
Nick’s coach, some jacked Canadian, set Nick up with exactly what he needed:
There was nothing otherworldly amazing about the plans Nick was given. Except for the fact that they were, in fact, a plan. A plan that Nick followed as best he could. Regardless of motivation, how he was feeling, or whatever—he decided to just try.
And, as time went by, something started to happen.
We all need a little help at times. Especially when we are feeling lost.
The pros to hiring a coach are endless. But, among those various benefits, the most beneficial is almost always the ease of mind. You no longer are caught wondering if you’re making the right decision or not. And you’re no longer worrying because that decision making is no longer in your hands.
When chasing any goal of importance, we almost always become our own biggest enemy. One of the best ways to solve this is through some 3rd party accountability.
A coach isn’t something you’ll need for the rest of your life.
But when the stakes are high and the goals are lofty, few things help more than having a macro master in your pocket. Or, if nothing else, it’s nice to occasionally have someone to lean on.
Earlier we talked about how this fancy little tale was not a love story. And I think it’s important to once again touch on that fact.
While Nick was able to bounce back from the depths of nutrition-hell, it was not all sunshine and roses along the way. It wasn’t as simple as he just woke up and did, or that his Canadian Coach in shining-sleeveless-armor swept in to save the day.
No, this story is a bit more real than that.
And that is something we should talk about.
We’ve talked about how Nick was honest enough with himself to admit he needed help. But, that wasn’t where the self-honesty ended.
And it isn’t where it began either.
You see, Nick took a hard look at his own life and tried identifying the things that would offer resistance in the pursuit of his goals. Things that would hold him back. And, upon doing so, he discovered a few forms of resistance that triggered relapses or dietary crashes.
Want a few examples?
You’ve undoubtedly heard the advice “never go grocery shopping while hungry”, right?
Well, Nick had a similar problem. Except instead of grocery shopping, Nick’s problem was more along the lines of “never track your food when you’re hungry“. By attempting to track his food on the fly, Nick would often find himself justifying poorer choices with the sentiment of “I’ll just eat less later.”
Which, sounds good in theory.
Except when it actually came time to eat less later in the day, Nick would simply decide that he was too hungry and would try again tomorrow.
Which leads us to two quick tips:
You should probably write those down.
Realizing that tracking on the fly led to poor choices (read: diet failure), Nick decided to pre-plan all of his meals the night before. Instead of trying to make it up as he went, he set himself up to enter each day with a plan already set.
And, like the kids say: it was lit, fam.
When beginning a diet you’re going to quickly encounter resistance. You’ll experience people and things that don’t want you to succeed. Like Nick, you’ll frequently find that these hurdles typically come in the form of your own friends or family.
The worst part of it all is that these hurdles you’ll encounter will very rarely be of ill-intent. And as such, it can be difficult to see them coming before they’ve already come. Whether it be your girlfriend asking you out to dinner or your grandma sending you a batch of your favorite cookies.
To combat these hurdles, we are going to have to implement strategies. Plans for avoiding these potential setbacks as they come. Each of us will suffer from different forms of resistance, meaning you may have to come up with a few different strategies.
If grandma’s cooking is your downfall, it may be unrealistic to just never talk to her again. In this case, cooking for her or suggesting certain meals may be a better idea.
If you girlfriend asking you out is what leaves you crippled, maybe try choosing non-food dates like laser tag or a hike at the local park or making comments like, “oh…you’re wearing that” so that she leaves you altogether.
The trick here is finding a strategy that works for you and the life you live.
And, well, that concludes our story.
A story of boy meets girl.
A story of overcoming diet failure.
And a story told entirely in 3rd person.
Here’s to living happily ever after.
Or something like that.