The ‘F’ Word…

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“One of these days that mouth is gonna get you in trouble.” To say that this phrase is one that I’m familiar with would be the understatement of the century.  Yeah, let’s just say that I can tell you what flavor and type of soap tastes the best (yes, I got my mouth washed out that many times, and FYI – LAVA bar soap is the worst – it’s all gritty and gets stuck in your teeth…). Now, you’re all probably thinking “um, what does inappropriate language and soap flavor have to do with paleo”? Soap isn’t paleo, and swearing – well, that might be…  Anyway, it all started with a brilliant idea my roommate and I had. See, we both realized that we were swearing a little too much (dropping ‘F’ Bombs like it was World War 3). So we decided to start a ‘swear jar’, and every time one of us swears in the presence of the other, a dollar gets put into the jar. Now, this all sounded like a good idea. That is until I realized how much more I swear then my roommate does.  Let’s just say I’m broke, and by August we should be able to fund Zoe’s college education (you’re welcome Robb) and a trip to Disney World if I keep it up at my current rate. I am getting better, but still ‘FAIL’ing miserably. And that’s not the only catalyst for this sub-par piece of writing that you’re painfully reading right now. No, my Health & Comedy Podcast crew (Dan and Corben) decided a hybrid-paleo challenge would be fun to do for the month of May (seriously, how do I get roped in to this shit?!?!). So, by unfortunate association with these wise guys, I got conned into it too. Now, I’m far from perfect but for the most part, my diet is pretty darn clean. I admit to falling victim to convenience foods (paleo bars, jerky, etc.) probably a little more often than I should, and I’m a sucker for ice cream, but otherwise I don’t do too bad. That is until I’m attempting a 30-day challenge… Uh, yeah – I think I’ve eaten worse this past month then I have for the past 3 years. Can you say “FAIL”???  (Thankfully, Dan and Corben set the bar pretty low, so I’m still the cleanest of the bunch…).

FAIL – it’s a four letter word that we’re all too familiar with. We worry about doing it, do everything we can to avoid it, and when it happens it makes us feel downright awful about ourselves.  It doesn’t matter what we fail at either. It’s all the same – the end result is a whole lot of negative self-talk, maybe a few swear words and a pint (or four) of ice cream. What’s the deal anyway, are we really that terrible because we couldn’t muster up a trip to the gym, dropped a few (hundred) swear words last week, or ate a slice of pizza on day 15 of a 30-day challenge? Does one slip-up justify giving up the ship? I like stories, so I’m gonna tell you another one (if I could draw I would illustrate, but art is not one of my three talents…). I recently received an email from a potential client that went something like this –

I know what paleo is, so I don’t need a plan.  I’ve done two 30-day challenges, but both times I FAILED on day 15. The first time I had sushi and sake and the last time it was a burger and fries. After I cheat I figure I blew it and just quit. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Why can’t I make it 30 days? Can you help me?”

-I.M. Frustrated

Does this scenario sound familiar to any of you? And yes, I’m talking to YOU. How many times have you set out with nothing but the best intentions to completely dominate one of these ‘challenges’ only to come up short?  Shoot, how many days have you woke up telling yourself that ‘today is going to be a clean day’ and by the time 10 am rolls around one of those donuts in the break room magically found its way into your mouth. Does this situation warrant use of the ‘F’ word? What exactly constitutes a true ‘failure’? What’s totally acceptable to one person (let’s say something like putting cream in your coffee), is enough to send someone else into a downward spiral of self-loathing and quite possibly the nearest Denny’s for a ‘Grand Slam Breakfast’. This is when you need to sit down and have a ‘come to Jesus’ with yourself. Seriously, how much damage can one cup of coffee with cream, a handful of nuts, or for the love of bacon – a banana, actually do? I mean really, even one meal of less than stellar choices is not the end of the paleo world, and definitely doesn’t constitute a full-fledged fall off. Sure, it’s a setback, but it’s also a learning experience, and it’s something I like to refer to as ‘life’.

In a ‘perfect’ world (you know, the one with fairies, unicorns, and honest politicians…), we could all go along happily existing in our little paleo bubble. We wouldn’t have social pressures, wouldn’t be tempted by the bowl of chocolates sitting on the office front desk, there wouldn’t be “Bread, Pasta & Cheese R’ Us” catered lunches at work, everyone would sleep 8-9 hours every night, stress would be non-existent, and there would be a river overflowing with the best coffee on earth and our adrenals wouldn’t even flinch after two gallons of the stuff…  Okay, back to reality. The truth of the matter is that NONE of us are perfect (sorry, but this does, in fact, apply to you). We always set out with the best of intentions. We aim high, but when we miss the bulls-eye, regardless of how close we come, we still feel like we ‘F’-ed up (as in FAILED not the other word…). This idea leads many of us down a dark path that’s paved with OREO’s, Dorito’s, and Krispy Kreme’s,  or sends us into a funk that’s so deep China is worried about an invasion (as in ‘dig a hole’ to China – I know, it’s a reach –but deal with it). And for some it may do both – look out Great Wall, we’re coming in!!

From now on instead of using the ‘F’ word replace it with the ‘S’ word (not THAT ‘S’ word!!).  It was a SLIP, a minor Setback – not a life threatening OMG, I just ate the entire Chinese Buffet and all the fortune cookies FAILure. The key is to RECOVER from the minor slip before it turns into a mu shu massacre on Monday followed by a taco takedown on Tuesday and an all-out wing-fest on Wednesday. There’s no reason to start throwing around the ‘F’ word or to turn on the negative self-talk.  What just happened back there at the restaurant with that glass of wine and cheese on your salad – that’s not FAILure, that’s life, and I assure you – it will go on!

Let’s do this together – no more using the ‘F’ word. Our mom’s will be SO PROUD!

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  1. Kate
    May 30, 2013 at 1:12 am

    This is EXACTLY what I needed to read right now. I know beating myself up when things don’t according to plan doesn’t help me – hell, it hasn’t worked in the 30 years I’ve been alive so it sure won’t change now. But telling myself I’ve had a slip, and the good kind of bad, bad enough together me on track again, versus telling myself I failed and am therefore a failure – that’s an awesome shift, and a sustainable place for me. Thank you!

    • Amy Kubal
      May 30, 2013 at 4:34 am

      You are welcome! And keep on truckin’! One day, one meal at a time. You can do it!

  2. Kristin
    May 30, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Agh. Day 15. I always have a fail on day 7 or day 15. The problem is preventing the massacre after I fall off the wagon. One meal is one thing. More than that is trouble. It usually takes several days to a week to get things back under control. Sigh. I’m not going to make the progress I want to make if I keep doing this.

    • Amy Kubal
      May 30, 2013 at 7:55 am

      Take it one meal at a time! If you have one bad one -make the next one a good one. Don’t let one slip take the wind out of your sails!

  3. Evan Yates
    May 30, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Great post. We had family in town this weekend and it was Day 26 of my 30 day plan and let’s just say I threw down some cake and ice cream on top of a bunch of beer. Thankfully, this made me even more strict the next day on my Paleo diet so I think I bounced back quickly. Reading stuff like this definitely helps.

  4. Steven Miller
    May 31, 2013 at 3:56 am

    I think we are all too ready to beat ourselves up and say we’ve failed. You’re right just because we slip up now and again that doesn’t mean it’s over. Well, just as long as we’re not slipping too regularly!

  5. Brian
    May 31, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Thanks for a great write-up. But I am having the harder time with the constant failure over the last 35 years. It has become way too easy for me to say “F” it when this happens because I have been failing at this all of my life. I would like to somehow come up with the answer as to why I sabotage my efforts even when things are going the way I want them to. I need to lose 150 lbs and when I get the first 40 off and start that first plateau then bamm I start cheating here and there and tehn its full blown food addiction taking over and I don’t care and lose my focus and it all breaks down to the old routine again. These vicious cycles have lasted a life time and the help I need is jumpstarting my metabolism and staying the course in the face of consistent recurring setbacks. Thanks.

  6. Karen Schmidt
    May 31, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Such great words of wisdom, Coach Amy! Good to know we aren’t alone with the “f” word. Truly appreciate your support helping us to keep things in perspective.
    K
    P.s. – will be staying far, far away from the lava bar soap :)

    • Amy Kubal
      May 31, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      Thanks Karen! And no Lava soap for you! It’s not on your plan… ;)

  7. Shannon Davis-George
    May 31, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Oh, Amy, I’m so glad I’m not the only woman who swears like a sailor! :) Or, as my sister says, “In my family, we use profanity like it’s punctuation.”

    And such an awesome post! I am getting better about losing the attitude, “Well, I screwed up with food, might as well give up!” Though my husband laughed at me last night at the pizza place when I ordered breadsticks smothered in cheese and a gluten free pizza. I haughtily informed him I was at least trying to be good (I just wasn’t trying 100%). :)

    • Amy Kubal
      May 31, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      I love it! “profanity punctuation” is pretty much the only punctuation I know how to use correctly!

  8. Rehana
    May 31, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Thank you thank you thank you!! That’s just the motivation I need to keep going. I thought I was missing the chocolate and sweets, but I have recently realized that I’m missing the breads and the pastas!! Darn it! But the good thing is when I do eat some, my stomach gets upset and I no longer tolerate it very well! :) so there’s my body taking over my brain. But it’s like you said: one meal at a time. Every successful meal is one step closer to my goals…. One of these days guys! One of these days!!

    • Amy Kubal
      May 31, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      Keep on truckin’!! One meal at a time – don’t lose site of the ultimate goal. You’ll get it!

  9. Hemming
    May 31, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Actually the opposite can be a problem too I would say. I haven’t had a ‘cheat’ meal/snack for at least six months and that includes things some would consider paleo.
    For me its a problem that I don’t allow myself to fail once in a while and enjoy it. I think there can be actually be a health benefit to cheating occasionally because that joy outweighs the negative health benefit of eating a little cream. It’s funny that I believe that myself as I would get a nervous breakdown if I ate just the slightest amount of ice cream today.
    I guess my point is that I agree with and that ‘failing’ can be good on rare occasions (even though I would never let myself do it)

  10. Pam Graber
    May 31, 2013 at 9:13 am

    So on the paleo regimen, and in moderate amounts, aren’t nuts, bananas and wings (naked, of course? OK?

  11. Derek
    May 31, 2013 at 9:25 am

    I look at it as a Paleo template. Adjust accordingly. Don’t beat yourself up too much. You should be in it for the long haul and an occasional cheat will help redirect… Hopefully.

    • Amy Kubal
      May 31, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      That is PERFECT! Adjust seasonings to ‘taste’! :)

  12. Sofia
    May 31, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Excellent post! Fridays are my worse days to slip, if l do. Tired (who wants to cook?) + trigger food, aka easily accessible food= failure. I may have to read the post SEVERAL TIMES today to feel successful. This was perfect!

    • Amy Kubal
      May 31, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      Print it out and stick it on the fridge! :)

  13. Patriss
    May 31, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    the paleo way of eating is doable and when you f up its ok. start the meal or day ASAP !! . you feel great and the self doubt is gone. we we always slip but than move forward. trying the salsa bacon wrap chicken this weekend. yummy!!!

  14. Angela
    May 31, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    I don’t beat myself up about setbacks. I think of them as on bonuses because I have eaten so well. Doing the right thing shoud always be rewarding without penalties! I started out with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and aging. After Paleo, I am a 41 year old mother of three, in the same size 3′s she wore in high school, with lots of energy, and a clear mind; most of the time. When I eat garbage it’s because my family was going to White Castle and I felt healthy enough to just shut up and enjoy a crappy meal with them. ;) …not because I needed anything but my veggies, meats, fruits, and nuts!

  15. keith
    June 1, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    I heard you talk about this subject on Health & Comedy. That whole failure attitude is a killer. You think about it and it comes down to the ass end of the saying “I’m a piece of shit and the whole world revolves around me”. It was just as important to get over myself and think right as to eat right. The same goes for substituting, “I can’t eat” with, ” I don’t eat” and, “I have to lift” with, “I get to lift”. Save “failure” for the real, catastrophic screw ups that count, like the all sugar all the time diet or that 16 trillion deficit.

    • Amy Kubal
      June 1, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Amen Keith! And thanks for listening to our Health & Comedy Podcast – that means we have 4.5 listeners now! (We decided pets count as 1/2 a listener and we’ve got one cat tuning in…) ;)

  16. Edward
    June 1, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Actually it can be good to wash your mouth out with soap. I do it several times per day, but I use Dr. Bronner’s liquid peppermint soap instead of toothpaste. It tastes great and has no fluoride or other BS in it.

  17. dafna
    June 1, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    want to thank you!! it’s a way of lifewith me. to eat acording to and when it’s really going wellthat’s when i stick something in my may to stop the progress or even reverse it!! i know how to pick myself up dust myself off and start all over again!! just good to read that there others like me out there sharing the WAY !!! thank you

  18. GiGi Eats Celebrities
    June 3, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Saying the word FAIL only motivates me to KEEP ON TRYING TO WIN!! But then when I say WIN it reminds me of Charlie Sheen and I definitely don’t want to emulate him! lol!

    Oh and I DEFINITELY say the other F WORD a lot!!!

  19. Brenda
    June 5, 2013 at 5:49 am

    It’s not just a Paleo way of eating that this happens with. You can take the word Paleo out of it and it’s the same thing with any diet. I have heard the same comments over the years at past Weight Watchers meetings (don’t do those anymore…). It all boils down to just being human.

  20. Merry
    June 22, 2013 at 7:56 am

    A wise friend once told me, “If you get a flat tire, do you pull over and flatten the other 3?? No. You put on a new tire and get back on the road.” Great advice when one SLIPs….

    • Amy Kubal
      June 22, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      That’s an AWESOME analogy! Change the flat and keep on rolling! :)

  21. Susan
    July 4, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Urgggghhhh! I get so frustrated and yes, I can call it a “setback” but it still doesn’t help that I can be strict for 7 weeks, lose half of the weight I need to, then put it all back on in one week! So then it takes two weeks to get back on track, feeling awful and that “I’ll never do that again” and promptly do!
    Why is it that what we crave is what is bad for our body? Why is this?

    • Robb Wolf
      July 5, 2013 at 8:21 am

      at one time that bolus of calories would have meant survival. today, it poses a big problem.

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