How to Fail at Getting Healthy

Yes, you read the title correctly.

This is a post about how to fail.

Most headlines make some ridiculous claim about how much greater your life will be as soon as you follow some 10 step plan. The problem with that is, these plans rarely work.

So instead, we’re coming at this from an entirely different angle. We’re not diving straight into what you must do to succeed… instead, we’ll look at what you must do to fail.

1) Indiscriminately buy ten million (or more) videos, books, supplements and exercise toys.

By drowning yourself in this absurd amount of extraneous fluff, you’re sure to come face to face with failure.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to validate your resources and try new things. But it’s also important to maintain some type of standard. Remember, not all video work-outs are made equally… and you definitely can’t believe everything you read.

Set up some preliminary boundaries for yourself. This can often help you stay focused on one thing at a time.

Beware of false knowledge. It is more dangerous than ignorance. –George Bernard Shaw

2) Stick to what you know, knowing that it doesn’t stick.

Let’s say that, like most people, you set a wellness goal when the new year rolls around. And it’s the same, tired one as last year: Finish a 10K race. So you hit the ground running down the same path, encounter the same aches and pains, face the same fears and struggles… and then give up (again) around February 1st.

But hey, that’s ok, no need to get down on yourself. Just wait until later this year when it’s the end of December.

You can expect everything to be different next year, right?

No, actually, you can’t.

Instead, stop this self-defeating cycle. Set a new goal or take a new path. Maybe that means joining a group training program (a support system can go a long way when embarking on a life-changing journey), or maybe it means trying a new, healthy habit like backpacking or speed skating.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. -Albert Einstein

3) Jump too far too fast.

Jumping from fitness novice to fitness expert is utterly unrealistic. Sustainable fitness means progression, body awareness and corrective work.

Given this reality, when you exercise too hard/too often too quickly, you greatly increase the chance of pain, injury and a loser’s mentality. And once you’re injured, guess what?! You’re back in the bed with nothing to show for it but shin splints and disappointment.

For example, I remember when I first started working out. I decided I would try my hand at an intense MMA exercise challenge…and wow, big mistake. Let’s just say, it didn’t take a KO for me to realize how miserably I had lost that match. My back hurt because my core wasn’t prepared for the loads it had been forced to handle. My knees were wobbly and radiated a constant, searing pain up my legs for a week. My body was exhausted and calorie deprived for days. I could barely get my bum off the couch, let alone hit the gym again the next day.

If we start by building healthy, manageable habits and move with confidence from one realistic milestone to the next, we can get to the MMA work-outs when we’re ready.

However, if we jump straight to MMA, those realistic milestones will have to be put on the backburner until we have the courage, strength and physical-preparedness to do something as simple as get out of bed. Do you disagree?

Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible. Suddenly, you will be doing the impossible. -St. Francis of Assisi

4) Start tomorrow.

If you are embarking on a sustainable journey of living life well, even the simplest of lifestyle tweaks are a good starting point. To clarify, we’re talking about tweaks like subbing naturally sweetened lemonade for soda or walking up one flight of stairs instead of taking the escalator.

Is it really necessary to put those changes off? How does this delay serve you?

Sure, I’ve known some brilliant procrastinators that could convincingly insist that starting fresh tomorrow made them feel as if they had a master plan (AKA “tomorrow, everything is going to be different”). But really, that was just a sneaky way to be gluttonous for another 24 gloriously lazy hours.

Don’t cheat yourself out of being one day closer to living life well. What does that accomplish for you?

 The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. -Franklin D. Roosevelt

5) When the going gets tough, quit.

Some days will be an ode to all things healthy:

      • Your low-fat, high protein, balanced breakfast.
      • The awesome work-out completed before the sun even rose.
      • The healthy snacks eaten in moderation throughout the day.
      • Impeccable nutrient timing based on what works best for your body.
      • Your post-work, 20 minute walk that helps you decompress from the day.

Other days will be tough and full of slip-ups:

      • Your pre-work dive to a convenient bakery to get a pastry for breakfast.
      • Barely walking anywhere since your knees/hips/back/etc. felt achy.
      • Having one too many margaritas downtown after work.
      • Eating a fat-packed chimichanga with extra queso for dinner.

So what do you do? Well, the way I see it, you’ve got one of two choices:

    1. Give up, because after a day of alcohol and laziness you have decided this is just too difficult. 
    2. Wake up, and try your darndest to live a little better than you did yesterday.

Let go of yesterday and wake up today. Clichés aside, the present can a be a gift if you willingly make it one. Take each step toward wellness with greater deliberation than your last. Be willing to live each passing moment with greater clarity.

Live each day with intention, not expectation. It is in this way that you cannot fail. Not convinced? I dare you to prove me wrong.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. -Robert Louis Stevenson




So what are your tricks to ensure failure? How about your tricks to ensure success? Or are you having a hard time figuring out the difference? Please share with us below!

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