What Toddlers Can Teach Us About Health, Fitness, and Falling Off the Wagon

Just fell, but that's not going to stop me!
Just fell, but that’s not going to stop me!

My  two-year-old grandson inspires me.

I adore watching him plod through tall grass. It’s up to his knees in places and he pushes through every step to get where he wants to go. If there’s a mud puddle in his way, he marches right through it. Thick mud tries to hold him fast, but he tugs and yanks without stopping, until his feet are finally free, and continues right on wherever he was determined to go.

Watching him made me think of all the times I’ve had to plod through tall grass in my life – abuse, divorce, relentless weight gain, rejection, working out at 4:00am – sometimes I pushed through, and sometimes I gave up, turned around, and went back the way I came.

Toddlers, I discovered, know the secret to health, fitness, and falling off the wagon.

They don’t hold themselves up to impossible standards like we do. To them, life is one big experiment. Some things they try work, and other times they fall down and get a big ugly bump on their face. They don’t seem embarrassed by it though, and it doesn’t keep them from trying again.

I love that. We can definitely learn from their example.

Time and again, clients will start a fitness program or a clean-eating plan, and within a few weeks, they’ll stop. Give up. Quit. The reasons are many – scheduling issues, the cost, or a lack of planning or time.
Then they beat themselves up for failing, and feel even worse than when they began.

But toddlers know something we need to know. Life is not perfect, and neither are we.

The bumps, bruises, and hang-ups they constantly, continuously, endlessly encounter do not beat them.
To them, life is an experiment. Some things will work, some won’t.

It’s about progress, not perfection.

This is the lesson we need to learn.

Progress requires experimentation, and experimentation will result in fails.
We need to allow ourselves to fail.

Maybe the Plyo workout isn’t for you. Maybe it’s too intense or your wrists can’t handle it. Don’t give up, just try something else. There are loads of choices. Maybe weights, kickboxing or jogging. Try swimming or sports. Just don’t stop!

If counting calories stresses you out, don’t stop managing your diet, just try another method. Try portion control. Or introduce shakes. Or focus on making one small, positive change and holding to it every day. There are lots of ways to make progress.

Remember, it’s about progress, not perfection.

The amazing thing about allowing yourself to fail is that your expectations change.

Now you’re not holding yourself up to some impossible standard. Suddenly it becomes about one thing – the smoothie. Didn’t work? Try different recipes, different times of day, or have juice or a salad instead. It’s okay. We’re experimenting to see what sticks and what doesn’t. The great thing about fitness is that there’s no one way to health.

Progress, not perfection.

Sometimes we need to just take a cue from the inspiring little people around us.
They’re smarter than we think.

What is one thing you do to get back on the wagon after a fail?

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