No one likes feeling like a failure. And sometimes feeling like a failure can really tear you down. But it truly happens to everyone.
While I write a blog about being healthy, my health has been a roller coaster at times. I really enjoy healthy food and being active but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. This post is going to be very open and honest, about my failures and what I’ve learned from them.
In my first year of university, unsurprisingly, I gained a lot of weight. Quite a bit more than the freshman 15. By the end of my first year I was completely determined to lose that weight and get fit.
And I did. Halfway through my second year I had lost over 50 pounds. I was so proud of myself- but I still felt I needed to do more. I went to bed with a grumbling stomach most nights and lifted heavy weights five times a week.
I looked in the mirror and was proud of my progress- but I still didn’t look like those girls on Instagram. I wanted to lose more weight, burn more fat, gain more muscle. So I kept going.
Summertime came around and seeing old friends again and working full-time made it hard to restrict my calories and lift weights on a regular basis. I gained some weight, but not too much. Nothing I couldn’t burn off, after all- I had lost over 50 pounds before.
Then the hardest year of my life happened.
My third year of university- I was newly engaged, living with new people away from home, dealing with a full course load of difficult courses and long lab periods, short on cash, and even ended up working part-time at a grocery store.
My anxiety skyrocketed- along with my weight. I had always had some anxiety but the extreme stress caused a full-blown anxiety attack. Everyday I spent a lot of time laying in bed, just worrying. Worrying I couldn’t afford a wedding. Worrying I would fail Organic Chemistry. Worrying I wouldn’t be able to pay for groceries. Worrying I wouldn’t understand Molecular Evolution no matter how much I tried. And worrying about my rapid weight gain.
All my life, I have been an emotional eater. And while it did impact my weight in the past a little bit, it was out of control at this point. Ordering garlic fingers and pizza from Dominos became a regular occurrence. Large bowls of ice cream at the university meal hall were the new normal. The guilt afterwards was so upsetting- which caused a vicious cycle of feeling upset, eating uncontrollably, then feeling upset, then eating uncontrollably.
The days of eating salads and lifting weights were gone. I felt like a complete failure. I had gained back all of the weight I had lost and more.
I tried several times to get back to my strict “healthy” lifestyle. But restricting my calories and exercising rigorously now felt impossible. I could do it for a day or two. But anxiety would hit and I would give in to comforting myself with food.
I barely made it through the year. While my GPA took quite a hit, I managed to pass all of my classes and go back home feeling relieved but still depressed and anxious about my health and my financial situation.
The summer wasn’t much easier. My anxiety was so bad that I could only work part-time. Which meant I was very low on cash. Which was very stressful. I had several anxiety attacks, resulting in physical illness. I worried myself sick- literally.
But then I got help.
I talked to a lovely psychologist, and her calming voice made me feel comfortable telling her about my failures. How I was embarrassed about my weight gain. How I felt pathetic not being able to work. I let it all out.
She made me feel that it was okay. Accepting my failures and challenges made me able to actually start working on them. She gave me a plan. Small steps I could take to reduce my anxiety. To stop the cycle of emotions and binge eating.
And step by step I have been working on my health. Starting with my mental health- as I’ve learned it’s pretty impossible to lose weight and eat well when you are experiencing mental health issues.
I’ve found things that calm me- like blogging! And I’ve made sure that I don’t put too much on my plate. My schedule this year includes Fridays off and only one lab session. I’m taking classes I truly enjoy. And when big assignments make me nervous I remember to ask myself “what’s the worst that could happen?”. Then I realize that it’s not so bad.
Health-wise, I’m not restricting myself like I used to. I’ve learned that restriction is not good for me. Instead, I’m paying attention to my body- I eat when I feel hungry and I try to focus on fresh, whole foods. But it’s truly all about balance- if I allow myself to have a treat once in a while, I don’t feel the urge to eat uncontrollably. I’m putting the focus on my health, not my weight.
Lately I feel happy, hopeful, and excited for what is to come. And although I have failed, I know I am not a failure. I am learning and my past failures do not define me.
Feeling like a failure? You can bounce back!
- If your mind cannot shake the feeling of failure and emotions of sadness and frustration are affecting your everyday life- talk to someone! It makes a monumental difference to voice those feelings of failure and get them off your chest.
- Accept your failures and limitations. Be aware of your challenges without being discouraged by them. Just understand that they are present.
- Take baby steps within your limitations. Instead of trying to completely change your life all at once, take small steps. Take a walk once a day or try to eat one more piece of fruit. Maybe meditation calms you down, try to work in a short session everyday.
- Don’t give up! It may seem like forever when you are taking one small step at a time. But think about it- better to be slow than to be stuck in a cycle of extreme change and failure.
I hope this post can help any of you who are feeling down and feeling like giving up. You are not defined by your past failures.