Reframed failures

“It’s all feedback, not failure.”  I believe that, but only recently.  All through my training, mistakes were taboo.  Failure – utterly unacceptable.  Of course, doctors must aim for perfection (that is why physician burnout is close to 66%.)  Mistakes can be very costly, especially in emergency situations.  Bless the emergency docs! 

But thankfully, most of us, are not emergency docs (even amongst the docs.)  Most of us, do not deal with life and death situations – ever!  So take the time to reframe and reflect on the feedback the world sends every day.  Not to find fault, but to find a better solution.  The journey to a more vibrant and meaningful life is not paved with failures and self-reprimand.  It is paved with reframed failures.

I love the ‘It’s all feedback, not failure’ approach to life.  Feedback is failure reframed.  If I had truly believed this during my failed Eat Less, Move More weight loss attempt, I would have concluded what I was doing (or not doing) was ineffective and altered course much sooner.  Clearly, resistance training was not an effective strategy for weight loss.  Nor was my ‘except-for-diet.’ (My version of healthy eating while consistently resistance training… I was ‘good’ except for…. The potato chips…. The shared piece of cheesecake…. The 12” sub…)  Somehow the ‘exceptions’ slowly morphed from a few chips to half a family sized bag…. From shared cheesecake to my own piece…. <<SIGH>>

Perhaps if I had believed it’s all feedback, and reframed my failure, things would have been different. 

Please do not misunderstand.  I believe exercise is a crucial aspect of health and must be incorporated into everyone’s life in a joyful manner.  Resistance training, stretching, cardio… all of it.  It works…. for increasing strength, increasing flexibility and improving cardiovascular health.  Exercise also improves mood, and brain health.  It just doesn’t work for weight loss – weight maintenance perhaps, but weight loss?  Not so much.

As I embrace ‘feedback not failure’ as a life philosophy, I am learning to be curious not judgey about ‘stuff’.  Instead of reprimanding myself for caving to a sugar-snack attack, I reframe it.  What was I avoiding?  What can I learn from this?  What strategy might have worked? 

I recently made a thoughtful decision to re-incorporate exercise into my life, after an 18 month hiatus.  As yet, I have been unable to follow through.  Why is that, I wonder?  Reframe.

After considerable deliberation, I have reached a tentative conclusion.  I spent five years – faithfully meeting with a personal trainer, attempting – unsuccessfully to lose weight. My brain has ample evidence exercise is ineffective.  “Why bother?” it rants, “Exercise doesn’t work, it is pointless – it is true, you have proven it!” That lesson in futility is sabotaging my successful return to exercise. 

Had I been exercising to gain strength, correct muscle imbalances and increase flexibility, I would have been quite successful.  But my mind, was fixated on weight loss as the golden goalpost.  My mind has decided I failed with exercise.  It learned exercise is futile.  It doesn’t care that it was measuring the wrong thing.  Thought error!

Eventually I reframed my weight loss failure – it has nothing to do with exercise.  I discovered the no sugar/no flour/manage your insulin approach to weight loss.  JACKPOT!  I easily plummeted through previous plateaus and kept going.  I am now 20 pounds less than what I had set for my target Eat Less, Move More weight goal – without exercise. 

Reframe failure.  I did that for my failed weight loss journey.  What I discovered was so much more than the secret to permanent weight loss.  I uncovered a refreshing mental clarity – an incredible hidden treasure.  A brain fog, I was unaware of, lifted. 

Weight loss is great.  But mental clarity?  Priceless.

Now I must reframe exercise…. Exercise for strength.  Exercise for flexibility.  Exercise for optimal brain health!  Just not for weight loss.  I wonder hidden treasure I will discover?

Buff it up, my friends
Dr Karen

Are you ready to Buff Up Your Brain? Ready to, lose weight, increase your mental clarity and polish up your thoughts? Let’s chat.