I stand before you today the happiest, most well-adjusted person I have ever been in my entire life.

  • When I look in the mirror, I like what I see.
  • When I go out, I feel confident in my clothes.
  • When I am at a restaurant, I don’t feel anxiety.

Why am I telling you this? To brag? No!

That’s the kind of life so many post-ops tell me they want. But they also tell me they don’t want to “fail.” And to me that’s interesting because the whole reason I have the mentality I have right now is because I have failed!

Here’s why it’s good to fail.

Failure Grounds You

Early in my post-op career, I was cocky. Eh. Insufferable may be a better word. And to be honest, it wasn’t completely unwarranted. I’d lost 155 lbs. I was muscular. I was thin. I was curvy. I had achieved the weight loss surgery DREAM.

That is, until the plateau hit.

Oh it drove me nuts! No matter how much I worked out, how little I ate, the scale would not budge. So eventually I said, “screw it!” If I was going to be stuck at the same size (or, worse, regain weight!) then I was at least going to have my Buffalo wings. So I ate whatever I wanted and it turned out exactly how you would expect it to: I regained. Big time. 40 lbs.

And of course losing it the second time around isn’t fun. It wasn’t easy the first time and it damn sure wasn’t easy the second. As I write, I’m only 15 lbs. into losing the 40! But guess what? This experience grounded me. It made me realize I need to know what my challenges are in this process (for example, nearly everyone plateau’s at some point in their weight loss…it’s not insurmountable but the way to deal with it is not to freak out!). I need to have challenging, yet realistic goals. And I need to have a game plan.

Nowadays I’m working on my regain. But I’m also living a good life. Let’s talk about that next.

Failure Makes Your Priorities Clear

You would not believe some of the Frankenfood I ate to lose weight. (Frankenfood = food that’s so engineered you can’t say with confidence what it started out as.0

My belief was that you should cut, cut, cut. Get as many grams of protein as you can while limiting carbs and fat. And true-to-form for me, I took it to the extreme. I was way undereating. And that did two things:

  1. It probably precipitated the plateau as my body struggled to figure out how it was going to continue to fuel my lifestyle.
  2. It made me a grumpy resentful person! WLS took away my appetite for a long time, but it did not take away my body’s need for food. And when my body needed food and I denied it, I tended not to feel so great.

But when I went the total opposite way, I ate everything. And that didn’t feel great either. My body moved more slowly. I had random blood sugar drops. And I wasn’t really enjoying what I was eating, I was just eating what I thought I wanted because I’d told myself I couldn’t have it.

Somewhere along the way I got my priorities clear though. I think it ties back to my personal “why” for having surgery. I want to be the kickass GREAT-grandmother. The women in my family historically have not led long lives. I want to break that cycle. But for what? To torture myself? No! So here’s what I decided:

  1. I’m only going to eat food I truly love and enjoy.
  2. I’m not going to do any exercise I find torturous. I’ll find ways to move that I love.
  3. I’m not going to focus on the things I can’t do. Instead, I’ll focus on what I can do, learning to do it even better.

And that changed the game for me.

Failure Shows You the Right Way to Go

Some of the most tried and true driving routes I know around my city are the result of getting lost.

I’d be driving somewhere and make a wrong turn and discover a new street that cuts down my drive time or a route with fewer stoplights.

Sometimes going the wrong way shows you how to go the better way. But only if you are open to learning from your mistakes. In my case, I learned from my regain that there are things that make me feel good about myself (being fit, eating well most of the time, spending time with people). But I also learned that I do best, am most consistent, when I do things I enjoy or that are meaningful to me. Earlier on in my process, I did what I thought would get me results. That’s how I decided what workout I would do, what I would eat, how I would spend my time.

No more. I do what I love. I love Zumba. So I do Zumba. Is that the most efficient calorie burning workout? No idea! But it’s what I love to do so I keep showing up!

I love a variety of sources of protein, fruits, vegetables and, yes, even a treat every now and again. Is that the fastest way to melt off the pounds? Probably not. But when I eat what I love, I eat better!

Failure is a learning opportunity. And how you handle it can determine whether you eventually achieve the life you want, or you continue to wish and dream about it.

So here are some do’s and don’ts

  • DO go into any endeavor with the intention of doing your very best.
  • DON’T beat yourself up or swear things off just because you didn’t do things perfectly.
  • DO take note of what goes well in the things that you do, and what you enjoy
  • DON’T keep doing things you hate! You won’t be consistent with them!
  • DO take things one step at a time.
  • DON’T think just because one step is hard that it’s all impossible.

How to Make Failure Work For You

Ok so you “failed” at something. What now? How do you get all these awesome benefits I described? Here’s my best advice:

  1. Don’t beat yourself up. We have a natural inclination to go really hard on ourselves if we don’t succeed at something. Stop that! Recognize failure as an area where you have room to grow.
  2. Figure out what went wrong. If we fail at something, there’s a reason we failed. Look objectively at the situation to figure out what when wrong, when and why.
  3. Make a new plan to avoid your past missteps. If you took #2 to heart, and you looked at what went wrong, you now have the information you need to make it go right. Maybe your timeline for achieving your goal was too short. Maybe you took on too much all at once. Or maybe you just need some extra support to get you through the rough patches. Whatever went wrong, focus your energy on what can make it go right the next time.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “This all sounds nice, but when I fail at something, all I want to do is crawl under a rock!” Understandable.

That’s why it’s good to have back-up. What does that mean? Well…what if you had a place where you could come when you are feeling down – any time of day or night – and there would be folks there who understand and get it? What if you had access to weekly online accountability meetings where you can talk about what went wrong (in a loving and accepting environment) and get help figuring out how things turned out the way they did? And what if you had an accountability buddy who helps and encourages you to get back on track with your plan, and learn from your mistakes?

You can have all of that, inside The Foodie Nation Community! This members-only, member-supported community is all about you: your goals, your habits, your healthy lifestyle. Because with the right tools and support, you can do absolutely anything – even come back from a monumental fail – with the right tools, motivation and support.

If you’re ready to build a healthy lifestyle that lasts – a lifestyle that, yes, will occasionally include a productive fail – then join us. We’re ready to be your people!