Failure, says Wikipedia, is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective. It smacks so much of the negative side of exams, marriages, jobs but from the point of view of personal change and betterment …(is that a word?..it is now)… then a certain amount of failure will reap huge rewards.  Take training for a run.  I ran a couple of half-marathons in 2019. I’m sounding nonchalant, I’m not and I wasn’t. Running isn’t my thing but I’d decided that a marathon was much too long (did one once, never doing it again) and my friend Stacey, queen of the 13-miler, told me her strategy was 9 minutes walking, 1 minute running.  “Isn’t that cheating?” I asked.  No, she replied. It’s a method.  So I embraced that method, did two half marathons, with a best time of 2 hrs 7 mins. But stupidly, I didn’t stop there. For my 60th birthday, as a present to myself (mental derailment setting in, clearly) I wanted to get under 2 hours so I upped the training to involve some nasty sprinty things, very long painful runs, lots of sore muscles and legs which refused to budge.  It was over.  And I had to pull out.  What did I learn? That I was right the first time.  It’s the same with weight-loss.  If it was all just a matter of eating better and moving more, then I’d be out of a job.  But it isn’t.  There are demons to confront and barriers to be broken down (comfort eating, hatred of exercise, shame, guilt, fear), and each time we knock down part of a barrier we might have to quickly rebuild it because we don’t like what we find. That process (seemingly a fail) is one hell of a win.  You faced up to it, identified that barrier and learnt something about yourself in the process.  Remember, aiming for something is fantastic.  But it’s the journey on the way there which is going to reward you the most.

That’s why, lovely friends, in terms of fat-loss, focus on the process, not the outcome.  You may want to get into THE dress or THE suit ready for that wedding/anniversary/holiday, whatever.  But you have no control over that.  What you do have control over is the process…that means the habits you set up in order to aim for that goal.  Don’t aim for diet mode, aim for moderation mode.  Good food (within a calorie deficit, right for your height, weight and age) with a little bit of what you fancy now and then.

MY TIP: Remember that small manageable steps will shape your progress.  With those small steps comes low risk of tripping up.  Break your goal down into manageable chunks.  Want to run 5k? Then powerwalk for 45 seconds and jog for only 15 seconds.  Do that 20 times.  Increase as you gain confidence.  Want to lose 7 lbs? Hide the scales and make one small change to your food each week (ditch the sugary cereal, reduce alcohol from 4 nights to 2 nights, more protein on your place, fewer less bourbon biccies in front of the telly). Over time you will look back at those small steps and realise they’ve turned into quite a distance. Patience and confidence are added bonuses, but let’s not sprint before we can walk!

(Based on a piece written for ‘Woman magazine’ May 2022).

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