I’m Failing

I usually meet with my client, Mike, about every three weeks. When we met this week, he told me that it had been a really hard three weeks and he was feeling off track. Things in his life were chaotic – his wife broke her ankle, his elderly mother got sick, and he got assigned to a big project at work. This led to some chaotic eating and his generally feeling like he wasn’t making good choices. “I feel like I’m failing,” he said, “Maybe I should just give up.”

I (gently) reminded Mike that “I’m failing” is an all-or-nothing thought and asked him if we could first examine that. “I bet there are some, if not many, things you’re still doing right,” I told him. Mike thought about it and realized that he was still consistently:

  1. Eating breakfast (prior to our work together, lunch or sometimes even dinner, was his first meal of the day)
  2. Not snacking before dinner when he got home from work
  3. Not eating dessert before dinner (a major skill that took him a few months to really cement into place)
  4. Exercising at least twice a week
  5. Limiting his alcohol intake to a reasonable amount per week

While it’s true that there were some things that had started to really slip (he all but stopped giving himself credit, started eating standing up again, started taking much bigger portions at meals, especially dinner, and stopped counting calories), it wasn’t true that everything was going poorly. In fact, when Mike looked at this list, he realized that a lot of things were still going well – he just wasn’t acknowledging or giving himself credit for them.

man running along path

The second thing I reminded Mike was that he had been through tough periods before, like when he first started this job, and was able to stay on track during the transition. If he could do it then, he could do it now.

Mike and I also discussed the fact that there is no giving up! He’s a cancer survivor and Mike knows that his health is critical – and healthy eating and maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of that.  To help him remember all these things, Mike made the following Response Card:

When I think, “I’m failing,” remember that that is an all-or-nothing thought. Chances are extremely high that I’m still doing some, if not many, things well. Take some time to think about what I’m doing well and give myself EXTRA credit for them.

I’ve been through tough periods before and found that focusing on my eating made me feel more in control. I can do this during hard times, and when I do, it makes hard times easier to cope with.

THERE IS NO GIVING UP! This is my health, and my life, at stake. I can do this.

Based on this discussion, Mike was able to realize that he was doing better than he thought, and that getting fully back on track wasn’t so far out of his grasp. Mike and I decided that for the next week, he would keep doing all the good things he was doing, and add back in eating everything sitting down, and giving himself credit. Once he did that for a week and gained some traction, we’d add in more next week and before he knew it, he’d be back to doing everything he was doing before.

If you feel like you’re not doing well, chances are that, like Mike, you’re either not noticing or disregarding the things that you’re doing well. Take some time and make a list of the things that you can feel proud of. Then pick one or two small things to start refocusing on, add them to the list, and go from there.

3 replies
  1. Gail
    Gail says:

    I have just started today with Day 1. I feel as if I am going through the motions like I have so many times but inside I don’t believe. I have failed so often. That fear and distrust of my resolve are going off inside. I’ve done the Day 1 “to do’s”. I want to just trust the process and take one day at a time. I’m almost 68. Don’t know how many more chances my body will get.

    • Sara
      Sara says:

      Hi Gail, I really appreciate your honesty and openness. I have had similar thoughts as you, in regards not just to eating healthy, but other areas of life as well. I hear you about feeling rattled by fear and distrust. Give yourself a big pat on the back for trying again, because getting back on the horse when you’re feeling defeated is a major accomplishment. Because it’s hard!! I think you deserve a big pat on the back for continuing to care enough to try again, even though it’s painful. That takes courage and strength. It may seem simple to try to get back on the horse – but it is not simple, it’s hard!

  2. Sandra Grant
    Sandra Grant says:

    I have just finished the book and followed all the exercises for the last 6 weeks, reading it one day at a time. I would like to lose 25lbs and have so far lost 11!! I now feel highly motivated and have the tools to get there! I am a believer!


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