Making Mistakes

This week I had a session with my dieter, Jen.  Jen had been doing exceptionally well for months and months, but recently has gone through some hard times in her personal life, and was struggling more with eating.  She had gotten off track with many of her healthy eating habits (like tracking all her calories, eating sitting down, planning in advance, and limiting nighttime eating to a specific amount).  She has been trying hard to get back to where she was a few months ago, but was still finding that her resistance muscle felt weak some of the time, and she ended up making choices she didn’t feel good about after the fact.

almonds spilled on a table

When Jen and I met this week, she had had a better week and was able to get herself to track every calorie, something she hadn’t been able to do for at least the last month. However, she told me that she was still feeling somewhat defeated because the night before, she started eating unplanned nuts standing up.  “I don’t know what happened,” she told me. “All of I sudden I was just at the counter eating nuts standing up.”  I asked Jen how the rest of the night played out, and she told me that she caught herself, put the nuts away, and then logged the calories that she did eat.  “And you’re feeling defeated?” I asked her, somewhat incredulously.  Jen told me that she was, because she ate unplanned nuts standing up. “That wouldn’t happen if I was completely on track,” she said.

I realized that Jen was missing two highly critical things.

First, she caught herself! She recognized what she was doing, course corrected, and logged the calories. If she had been off track, she no doubt would have continued eating nuts, and then likely gone on to eat other things too, telling herself that she had blown it for the night. And, almost certainly, wouldn’t have logged a single calorie.

The second thing Jen was missing was the realization that even when she was completely on track, she wasn’t perfect. No one is perfect.  Even during great eating days/weeks, Jen made mistakes. But when she did, she did exactly what she did last night: she caught herself right away and got right back on track.  Jen forgot that being on track didn’t mean perfect eating, and if that was the standard she was setting for herself, then she would always feel like she was coming up short.

I discussed both of these things with Jen, in doing so she recognized that last night was actually a positive sign, not a bad one.  Her ability to catch herself and recover right away is hugely indicative of a strong resistance muscle and gives her a lot of confidence in her ability to catch herself the next time she inevitably makes a mistake.

1 reply
  1. Jeremy
    Jeremy says:

    Great story, and a powerful less that I constantly try to reinforce with my fitness and weight loss clients as well. Always accept up front that there will be failures. It’s part of the game plan because it happens to everyone eventually. The worst thing to possibly do is realize you’ve made a mistake and just throw it all away.


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