No, I haven’t failed. I’m actually still going strong. But as someone who believes that the journey is often more important than the goal, there’s something strange to be found in weight lifting and dieting. Often, the training and food regimen are all about the results and rarely about the journey.
Even though I’ve tried to switch it around, with the experience being a large part of why I’m doing this, there’s still the thought of a goal to be reached and won. There’s still the thought of crossing the finish line, and that brings a smile to my face even though I know I’m doing this for life. So that brings me to the middle sister of success… failure.
We are terrified of failure. It paralyzes us from acting in the first place sometimes, and it becomes the silent excuse, the one people never express. I experience minor surges of it when I come to my weekly weigh-in, or I do my monthly fitness assessment. I scrutinize ever inch of my progress and I doubt my gains. And I’m left believing that somewhere along the way, I backslid or that what I’m seeing isn’t accurate. Further out, the fear manifests as another failed diet and another return to my weight plus the interest I’ve accumulated. I’ve rebounded before and I’ll rebound again, my fear tells me.
A friend called me brave for what I’m doing, but the fact is I’m not a brave person. I just try to do brave things (sometimes just to spite myself). But fear of failure remains one of my demons and I know most people share it as well. If given the choice between it and never trying in the first place, how many of us would opt for the latter? How many of us would prefer never to have tried?
If you knew you were going to fail, would you try anyways? Is it the result or the experience that matters?
I see my 43rd birthday approaching, and I’m hit with the worry that my own novels won’t see print (so I likely drive my agent crazy with questions). I see the various pant sizes and clothes that I’ve worn over the decades, and I worry that I can’t maintain what I’ve started (I’ve been here before, will I be here again?) I worry about things that I have no right worrying about, and then I worry about the fact that I worry too much.
What keeps the fear at bay isn’t the success, though that helps tremendously. It’s the knowledge that I’m trying, so I guess the answer to my own bolded question is: It’s the experience that matters to me. Step by step. What helps is a sense of hindsight, the ability to look back on what I’ve done and take measure of the whole.
I used this approach with my writing, to remind myself where I started and where I’ve come with it. I recently realized that I have to do the same with my weight training. This occurred to me after the results of my last fitness exam. The trainer told me I’d gained about 2.5 pounds of muscle, as opposed to five pounds the month before. Instantly, the nagging doubts raised their voice in chorus and I wondered where I’d faltered. I hadn’t failed, but was I succeeding?
Up close, it looked like depreciable returns on my investment, but I forgot to look at the larger picture. In two months, I gained eight pounds of muscles. That’s 800 extra calories a day that I’m burning, and it took both months to get here. Without the last month, I’d still be at five pounds of muscle, not eight. Fear makes it hard to see the forest from the trees, but you can always step back and take a wider angle of the view.
So, I approach my 43rd birthday and I remind myself that 43 isn’t the finish line any more than today was. Not as a writer and not as someone watching their health. When I hit 43, it’ll be the culmination of all the steps I took. It’ll be the sum of trying, failing, succeeding and ultimately learning because I chose experience over failure.
And now, I’d like to share with you the results of the diet to date.
April 6th June 15th
Weight 282 lbs 258 lbs
Fat % 36% 27%
Lean Body Mass 180.48 lbs 188.34 lbs
Fat Body Mass 101.52 lbs 69.66 lbs
And since pictures speak louder than words: