Two steps forward and one step back


I was prepared for the bad news this morning. Nevertheless, after I tapped the scale with my foot and watched the readout calibrate back to 0.0, I bravely stepped forward and watched the number appear between my feet.

I’ll take you back to how I arrived at this point. At the beginning of May, I started a Healthy Living plan that followed some fairly restrictive dietary guidelines, and attempted to increase my physical activity. The goal was to feel better and lose excess weight. I established a goal of losing 45 lbs by the end of the summer. Kicking this off in May was designed to give myself a head start on my summer activity.

The first two weeks went quite well. I stuck mostly to the plan with just a handful of exceptions. And those exceptions were quickly followed by getting back to the┬áplan’s track. There is a saying in sports that says something to the effect of “don’t let a team beat you twice”. It means that if you lose a game, get that feeling of losing it out of your head so that you aren’t psychologically battling that same game when you play your next opponent. I see that same psychological effect when one is trying to make positive changes. It’s very easy to allow one slip-up to snowball into more slip-ups, especially if one is fixating on that first mistake. For those first couple of weeks, I think I was mostly successful in moving on when I made a mistake.

Now, this isn’t the first time that Lauren and I have tried this Healthy Living plan. More like the 4th or 5th time. And honestly, even if we had given up after these first 2 weeks, it would have been the longest we’d ever made it. In previous tries, we would cave and eat something “forbidden”, and that would start the usual process of questioning whether this kind of plan was sustainable and rationalizing that occasional cheats were good for the soul. Those occasional indulgences would lead to more rationalizing and pretty soon we were giving up on the plan altogether. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but that often happened in the first few days.

Yet, this time was different. We were prepared up front and when we did slip up we simply righted the ship and moved on. The results were encouraging. I lost just over 4 lbs the first week and followed that up with 2 more lbs lost in the second week. Even the 3rd week was going well. Between Monday and Friday, I lost 2 more lbs. I was feeling well and my energy level was high.

The end of the 3rd week brought a huge obstacle – travel. I’m sure that many travelers are disciplined enough to not fall off the rails, but we were not ready for the way this trip was going to affect us. And in full disclosure, it’s not just this trip. Throughout our relationship Lauren and I have treated traveling as an opportunity to cut loose and do some things that we may not normally do. We stay out later, drink a little more, eat more fast food, and just generally avoid the responsibility of taking care of ourselves. This is even more pronounced when, like on this trip, we find ourselves childless for a few days.

And this trip was exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Lauren was meeting family members that she had never met (or even knew existed until a few years ago). It was a quick trip with a lot of flying and driving time. A quick rundown of food choices shows how those choices were made by convenience and impulse:

  • We arrived at 9:15pm to Las Vegas, rented a car, and immediately drove 2 hours to St. George, UT. Once we left Las Vegas, there was not much available, and we did not want to stop moving. Both of us were quite hungry, so a stop at the McDonald’s drive thru was in our future.
  • Breakfasts both mornings in St. George were at the Best Western, included in our stay. You know what to expect here – eggs, bacon, potatoes. Or waffles and a bunch of pastries.
  • We went to lunch with Lauren’s aunt and uncle. So, off to the Olive Garden we went. Yeah, maybe they have some healthy things on the menu, but seriously. It’s mostly just mounds of pasta, breadsticks, and salad drenched in dressing.
  • After leaving our “new” family’s house that night, we went in search for more food. Most places were closed but we found an In ‘n Out Burger open. I was able to feed my nostalgia for my years in California as well as my face.
  • On our way back into Las Vegas, we made a wonderful visit to the Valley of Fire, but let our stomachs go a little too long without feeding them. So, we ended up eating at Raising Cane’s, which neither of us had ever tried before. For those of you unfamiliar with this establishment, it is all chicken fingers. Oh they also have fries, Texas toast, cole slaw, and sweet tea. Yeah, nothing healthy there at all. Seriously, not one thing on the menu that is even remotely healthy.
  • Our one evening in Las Vegas took us to a Spanish Tapas bar for “Sangria Hour”, which is really 3 hours and allows you to taste a few things on the menu without paying full price. It was great and probably the least destructive meal we had for the entire trip. The rest of the night, however, was not exactly healthy. I mean, it’s Vegas, right?!!

We could have planned our trip and the meals better so that we had better options, but that is not how we approached it. It was a little bit of an escape, but I paid for it. And looking down at my scale this morning, the 4 lbs I added since last Friday show me how much I paid. I’m down 4 lbs total for the month but this was disappointing. It’s hard to believe I can do that much damage in 5 days.

So, now what do I do with the end of the May Healthy Living plan approaching? My plan is to continue for the rest of the month, getting back on the plan as much as possible. And when the plan ends, I will employ realistic techniques to keep . I love the shakes for breakfast. There’s no reason that I can’t continue to have those every morning. Also, avoid empty calories, have better snack options around, and run and bike more consistently. When I do screw up, just brush myself off and carry on.


  1. Chrissy

    It isn’t a diet, it is a lifestyle choice. So even if you have a cheat weekend, get back on the horse the next day. One mishap does not a quitter make. Do you lose one game and give up for the season? No. Do you come in second in a race and never race again? No. Do you stop making movies because of one flop? No. Ask George Clooney after Batman and Robin. You are George Clooney. Success is in your sights. Don’t give up.

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