Perseverance. Motivation. Dedication. Hard Work. These are all words or terms we hear when it comes to adjusting to a new lifestyle or a new diet, and yes, it’s true: all of those are necessary to be successful. But something most people leave out is forgiveness. You will make mistakes, you will either eat something that’s not on your diet or you will eat more than you should, and you’re going to feel guilty about it. That guilt often leads to people slipping into despair and doubt which then causes them to fall off the diet and out of the lifestyle. The end result is being right back where you started from, or worse.
I know this cycle all too well. I lived it for 20 years. I would try a diet, found it to be too restrictive, and I would fall off for a day. Then, feeling the guilt and weight of the oppressively strict diet, I would contemplate and then finally decide to give up the diet because, in my mind, no diet was worth that amount of suffering. I’d also end up gaining more weight than I originally lost, and this repeating cycle led to me ballooning up to over 312 lbs. At 5’7″, that’s dangerously obese.
Something I didn’t learn until three years ago, when I first began my new healthy lifestyle with a Whole30, was forgiveness. Forgiving myself for lapses in strength, judgment, and restraint. I didn’t give myself an easy out; that’s not what I’m talking about. This isn’t about justifying cheating or making it easy to fall off the wagon. This is about being able to forgive yourself for giving in to temptation so that you can dust yourself off, re-steel your resolve, and get right back on that diet. To get right back into the new lifestyle without the emotional baggage and depression that goes along with the guilt of not being perfect.
While I was on my journey to lose 150 lbs, I had a very strong resolve and I was able to resist nearly any temptation because I had, for the first time in my life, wanted something more than anything else in the world. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to hit a target weight to allow me to re-enter military service. I needed it like a drowning man needs air. The very few times I over-ate or ate something not on the Paleo Diet could have easily derailed me, my mindset, and my progress had I not learned to forgive myself and carry on.