Success Needs No Apologies

Q: I didn’t totally follow your advice exactly.  I did lose X lbs this week, but I guess I messed up.

A: You have it all wrong.  You didn’t mess up.  You succeeded.  You may not have followed exactly what I suggested, but you don’t have to.  There are a few lessons in this question.
  1. You should not apologize to anyone else for what you’re doing or what you achieved – there is only one person you are doing this for and to whom you answer – you.
  2. Advice is just that – a set of suggestions from someone who (hopefully) cares and (hopefully) knows what they’re talking about, but ultimately isn’t you, and isn’t living your exact situation.
  3. Focus on the right things – you made forward progress toward your goal.
Let’s look at each of these points in turn.
First, if you made progress toward your goal – whether a lot or a little – don’t ever feel bad.  If you moved backward, yet know why, what you will do going forward, and are still committed, don’t feel bad.  If you totally failed and don’t care or want to try again or harder, only feel bad if you wish it were otherwise.
You can tell me that you thought you might get closer to your goal, but that you made progress.  I will then cheer you on and commend the great work you did while helping you figure out how to keep moving forward.  If you didn’t make progress or moved backward, we can talk about why (it may even be a good thing – maybe you started lifting weights, so your weight went up, but your body fat went down, so why be upset about that?), and then talk about the next move to get to your goal.
In the end, you don’t have to apologize.  All you have to do is keep going at it.  Remember Principle #3 – Don’t Question It.  If you’re apologizing, you’re questioning.
You owe me nothing.  You owe you everything.  Don’t live by other people’s expectations, demands or rules.  You’re an adult who has committed to your health, and are doing it with tools and support, but you are doing it.  No one else.
Second, I’m only sharing advice based on what you tell me going in and what I know and have observed. You are a human – your body is different from every other body out there, and the exact food you eat at the exact times you eat it relative to the exact motions you use to expend it are particular to you and only you. Advice isn’t perfect or omniscient. It will lead to results tending toward what it is aiming for in most cases, but it won’t be exact, and it won’t always win. Sometimes we need a little trial and error to figure out the biology and what your life will accommodate. The closer you stick to the advice, the easier it will be to fine tune, but you are smart and motivated and might know what’s best for you and your situation better than I do or than I could given how you explained it to me. Tweak, interpret and go for it.
One thing I keep telling people I work with is that they have to make this sustainable. I don’t advocate the short term diet or exercise approach. I don’t like the idea of getting fit for some event (e.g., wedding, high school reunion, etc). I only advocate being healthy for life.  If you have some medical condition that means you need to get X in your diet, and my advice suggests omitting X, then we best keep X in. Even Tim Ferriss talks about how he has a glass of wine each night despite knowing he’d be better off without the sugar.  He is a wine lover, and has decided that the trade off is worth it for him. From my experience, grain-based carbs (bread, pasta, pastries, cakes) are the most detrimental to success for me. Would a slice of multi-grain bread with lunch ruin everything? Probably not. Would it slow down results more than if you skipped it? Most likely. If that’s all you have access to for lunch, should you skip it? No.
See, you need to figure out what is sustainable relative to the advice you get. While I can help you fine tune the advice to be sustainable, only you can ultimately judge what you can really keep up with.
Lastly, what are you apologizing for when you make progress? This is very simple – don’t apologize. Ever.  Understand why you didn’t get where you wanted to get, and then get there next time thanks to your learnings. But to be sorry for moving ahead only works against the reinforcing energy of success.
So, don’t apologize. Appreciate. Understand. Move ahead and nlighten.your.body.

About bryan falchuk

bryan falchuk is the founder of, a certified personal trainer, behavior change specialist and the best-selling author of "Do a Day". bryan coaches people on their whole health - the physical, mental and emotional combination of wellness that we need to thrive and change our lives.

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