In the grand scheme of weight loss things, there are some tasks that have a difficulty factor of 9.5. Listed among those are:
- getting up at 5am on a winter’s morning so you can go outside and train
- be the only one in a pub full of friends NOT eating the pizza and drinking the beer
- saying no to the slice of birthday cake when all your colleagues are urging that just one small slice won’t hurt
- not smacking the person in the face who says to you, “losing weight is easy, just go on a diet”
(actually, that last is possibly just me).
There is one task however, that I feel scores an 11.5 on the Richter Scale – getting back on the wagon after you’ve slipped off and landed face down in the mud.
In a way, falling off is worse when you’re working in a group, because for so many others, the wagon is going on successfully without you on it, and you can see it only too well fading into the distance. The longer it takes you to get up, the further the wagon gets ahead of you – the more work you have to do to claw back. And the more work you have to do means there’s always a chance you won’t do it at all and simply throw the towel in.
Which is not in my nature as far as I can see. Not that I haven’t done it before, but these days, there’s some base core inside me that simply won’t let me give up. I literally can’t give up. So if giving up is not an option, getting up is.
The reason why getting back on the wagon is so hard is simply because of the mammoth effort it can take to get yourself back into the headspace required. Of course, I’m talking about my own experience here, but I know I’m not the only one. If you’re not in the headspace, you don’t get your shit organised, you don’t plan to exercise, you don’t force yourself up at 5am. Your head directs everything, and if it’s not in the game, neither are you.
But how do you do that when your most recent experience is nothing but failure? That is the question that has bugged me for the last few years, but in recent weeks, I think I’ve actually found the answer. At least, it certainly seems to be working, which is really all I’m looking for.
In years past, I would spend an entire weekend working at getting my brain into gear. I’d be thinking about starting the diet on Monday (no diet ever starts on any other day), and I’d buy food to eat. But I’d only think about Monday, so by Wednesday or Thursday, when work stress started to hit, and lack of sleep made me more hungry at work than normal, it was only too easy to fall off again so that by Friday, I was already planning another weekend full of mental bullying. I can tell you two things about this process – 1) it’s a big FAIL and 2) it sucks as a way to spend your weekend.
But what I’ve noticed on this 12WBT program is that even if I’ve fallen off during the week, my brain is already setting up stuff not just for Monday, but for the whole week, and that it’s not me having to consciously push myself to that point, but that getting ready for the week is normal life.
Yes, normal life now includes planning my meals for the week, packaging up dry snacks so they’re easy to grab, sorting out lunches, clearing the deck and setting out workout clothes for Monday morning – and deciding what workout I’m doing on Tuesday, Wednesday and the rest of the week. Organising my other obligations around my workout needs.
I’m still doing this on Sunday, but the difference is that I no longer have to convince myself to do it, or that THIS time will be different. It’s already different – in that this is my life now. There’s no massive mental battle involved – just habit. It’s now habit to assume that no matter my success in the previous week, there’s no going back, there’s just the program, for better or worse. And that the more I do it, the better I get at it, the more success I enjoy. I can see that now, as I look back. No, I’m not perfect at it yet, and I’ll be very surprised if I’m ever perfect at it, but that almost doesn’t matter. Michelle Bridges says consistency is everything, and I think I’m starting to see that.
I’m not really getting back on the wagon any more, because in the most important respect – my head – I haven’t actually fallen off it in the first place. My head tells me the failures are now just dips in the road, but the road goes on. I go on.
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