Do you have to win every battle to win the war? 3 steps to getting back on track

Last week while exploring Civil War territory back East, I was struck by how chaotic and seemingly random this big chunk of our history really was.

The Battle of Gettysburg was actually a series of skirmishes.  Advance, retreat.  Win for the North, win for the South.  Though it may pale in comparison when it comes to importance, it struck me how allegorical this is to life when we are aspiring to change.  To improving our lives with healthier habits.  Like a better diet.

As if on cue, this week in the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart that I have the honor of coaching, one of our lively and encouraging participants posted this.  Lance (not that one!), aka vegpedlr, had this to say:  

“If you fall down, STAND up!

I fell down yesterday. It was Friday, which is about the only explanation/excuse needed, really. In the spirit of the Kickstart, I decided to try a Mexican restaurant nearby that I haven’t visited. Well, the avocado margarita was interesting and good, Mexican beer is good, and I ended up with veggie fajitas much higher in oil than I like. They probably hid some queso in there somewhere too. Live and learn.

It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, it only matters how many times you stand up. I think I’m paraphrasing a boxing coach, or maybe my grandfather. Anyway, today I stood up. Garbanzo beans in the crockpot for tonight’s ratatouille and black bean chili that I didn’t get to earlier in the week.

Did you stumble? Did you fall? Doesn’t matter. Just stand right back up and move forward!”

You don’t have to win every battle to win the war

Let’s learn from Lance’s message.  It’s not the falling down that matters, it’s the standing back up.  Winners are those who, time and time again, get back on their feet.  They don’t complain about the fall, feel sorry for themselves for tripping, or stay in the ‘what the hell’ attitude pool for long.

Creating a healthier body and a healthier lifestyle is a series of approximations.   Sometimes you hit it right on the head, sometimes you fall off the bike or take a sidetrip, and sometimes you just plain lose the skirmish.   But if you take a look at your healthy practices this week – what you ate, how you moved, how you have made effort in improving your thinking process – and compare it to a few months or even a year ago, have you seen the upward spiral?

3 steps to getting back on track when you’ve fallen off the healthy wagon

1)  Immediately do your version of Lance’s “beans in the crockpot for tonight’s ratatouille and black bean chili that I didn’t get to earlier in the week”.

2)  Move your body.  It is the fastest acting form of resurrection I know.

3)  Turn your focus to what you want.   Feeling discouraged and down can make connecting with your healthy vision seem impossible.  Start with one simple step:  say or write a sentence that tells one of your goals.  Such as “Today I embody my healthy eating ideal”.  Or, “Today I make exercise a priority and go on a 20 minute walk”.  Make it something positive, tangible, a doable step.   Nothing is too small.  Too often we think that we’ll just snap about of feeling bad, neglecting the crticial step of stating intention and asking for what we want.  Do this and watch your world change as your small investment in stating what you want starts to pull you forward.

If you are practicing better eating, better activity, and better thinking, then you are crowding out the habits and choices you are  changing with the practices that are moving you forward to glorious, happy health.

Think of it as a practice.

Click here to join 1,000′s of others + get your weekly health, body shaping and food advice for free from the Plant-Based Fitness Expert each week.

About vegpedlr:  As a proponent of plant based nutrition and a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, I PEDDLE veggies to anybody who will listen. As cyclist and triathlete, those veggies allow me to PEDAL all over. I have been inspired by truly remarkable plant based athletes as well as brave doctors who tirelessly extol the many virtues and benefits of whole foods, plant based diet. So this blog documents the efforts of a novice triathlete, mountain bike racer, and general endurance freak trying to find the ideal race weight, ideal training, to move from the back of the pack to the middle. Of course, the front of the pack would be even better, but let’s not get too crazy. Walking before running, yo.  More about Lance (vegpdlr) at his website  here:


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  1. Timing, timing and MORE perfect timing!! First, let me thank you for using my most favorite historical site as the backdrop to your blog – but, more than that. I was in a war this morning with myself – I have so totally fallen from the ‘do something’ everyday wagon, my tuckus is certainly showing it. So, today – ZERO questions asked – I did. something. Two small exercises, and then thought – NOPE ~ get the rest of your fit quickies out and go for the whole shabang. YOU CAN DO IT – Then, my brain took over and said no. One. small. hill. at a time. With your wording, one battle at a time – I am fighting a war, but, it is won on a hill each and every day. Tomorrow will be different from today – and I know I can get back to full strength ‘one battle at a time’.

    • Lani Muelrath

      Awesome Laura-Grayce. What an inspiration and by sharing YOUR action I know you will inspire others today. Thank you!

  2. I love tip #1: “beans in the crockpot for tonight’s ratatouille and black bean chili that I didn’t get to earlier in the week”–what a way to get back on track by focusing on the positive rather than dwelling on the past!

    • Lani Muelrath

      Janae, I know, don’t you love it? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Is that recipe somewhere? Always on a hunt for ‘new’ vegan recipes!!

      • Lani Muelrath

        You mean vegpedlr’s recipe? Good question! I’ll ask him!

  3. Great article Lani. It’s nice to know that I don’t have to give up being healthy just because I messed.

    • Lani Muelrath

      Jennie, I love the way you put that. Quote worthy. Thank you!

    • Jennie, that is it? Isn’t it? Human nature says, beat yourself up because you didn’t run sixteen miles today, do 700 sit ups, or whatever – we continually beat ourselves up for what we didn’t do, instead of what we CAN and did do!!

      • I agree Laura-Grayce. I used to beat myself up every time I fell, but now I look back and realize every time I fell I was able to get back up again and I’ve realized I’ve become stronger every time. I have had to push myself to learn more and the knowledge over the years came by bits and pieces. If I didn’t have to struggle and make mistakes, I wouldn’t have learned anything. Of course I have much more to learn, I’m sure, which is why I love to read Lani’s articles.

  4. Yes! I’ve been falling off track more than I ever anted to. Have picked myself up time and again. The past few days I had the pleasure of being fed by the ASW in Santa rosa. It felt more than a cleansing diet having to sit down and enjoy the wondrous food couple by the xtraordinary speakers. Yesterday to celebrate I walked almost 8 miles around Santa rosa. Could t have done that a year and a half ago!

    • Lani Muelrath

      Gin, how perfect that you were at ASW! I was so sorry to miss it this time – travels and book publisher demands created a different scenario for my weekend yet knowing you were there is lovely. It is an excellent way to retrench. And I am so excited about your walk! Are you staying on in Santa Rosa for awhile? Thanks for bringing me up to speed!

  5. This concept is very similar to one I use with my clients. I do not let them use the word “failure”. The only true failure is giving up. We celebrate every small step in the right direction instead.

  6. Cheryl, I love it – exactly – the only TRUE failure is giving up – When we give up – we die. Period. Re-evaluation is not giving up – it is re-aligning our goals, and looking at certain situations with a different lens.

  7. thanks Lani great read, and just at the right time, i have had the flu and couldnt walk as much as i usually do and my brain kept telling me how bad i was for not pushing myself more, i still walk everyday but just not as much as before as i dont have the energy and i was feeling terribly guilty, but after reading that i dont feel so bad as at least i am still doing some exercise and that is better than none, cheers Anna

    • Lani Muelrath

      Boo Anna! So sorry you aren’t feeling well. Take care and get back to health soon!

  8. It’s all about keeping up the momentum. Remember physics? An object in motion tends to stay in motion… Keep heading forward as soon as you can. For my chili, I based it on the recipe at the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart, but because I can hardly ever leave a recipe alone and I make a lot of chili, I modified it by adding more chiles, zucchini, and corn. I also made it spicier. Some of the recipes I start from are on my website, like the crockpot beans that the chili came from. As for exercise, if I don’t feel it, I just remind myself that after ten minutes I usually feel great. If ten minutes into a run I still feel terrible, then I can quit. That almost never happens!

    • Lani Muelrath

      Thanks vegpedlr!

      And here is the Black Bean Chili recipe from the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart:

      Quick Black Bean Chili

      Serves 2

      Yes, you can make a big bowl of delicious chili in 15 minutes without compromising on taste! Black beans have a dark flavor that combines exquisitely with the caramelized onions, fire-roasted tomatoes, and the zing of the chili powder. It is ready in minutes and just keeps getting better as it sits. If anyone ever asks how it can be chili without meat, remind them that it’s called chili, not carne! Then give them a spoonful and watch them beg for more.

      1 yellow onion, diced
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      16 ounces cooked rinsed black beans
      8 ounces crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
      1/4 cup chili powder
      2 teaspoons ground cumin
      1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (Greek oregano can be substituted, or you can use 2 teaspoons fresh of either type)
      Options: 2–3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves; squeeze of lime

      Over medium-high heat, sauté the onion until most of the pieces are significantly browned. Add a thin layer of water and quickly stir the onion. Let the onion sit and the water evaporate. Repeat this process two to four more times (the more you do it, the deeper the flavor of the onions grows). Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the black beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and oregano, mixing everything together. Simmer for at least 5 minutes. This recipe works best in a wok.

      Options: Add the lime juice and/or cilantro immediately after the chili comes off the heat and stir.
      The Gourmet Touch: Add the chili powder after the garlic has cooked for 1 minute. Allow the chili powder to cook for about 30 seconds, slowly stirring it. Quickly add the black beans with their liquid and then the rest of the spices. The flavor of chili powder is best developed if it can be exposed to direct heat for a short amount of time. However, it can become bitter quickly, which is why you have to make sure to get the black beans and liquid in the pot at the right time.

      Per serving:
      Calories: 401
      Fat: 4.4 g
      Saturated Fat: 0.8 g
      Calories from Fat: 9.2%
      Cholesterol: 0 mg
      Protein: 24 g
      Carbohydrates: 73.9 g
      Sugar: 10.8 g
      Fiber: 27.3 g
      Sodium: 171 mg
      Calcium: 183 mg
      Iron: 9.7 mg
      Vitamin C: 25.3 mg
      Beta Carotene: 2350 mcg
      Vitamin E: 5.5 mg

      Source:21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart by Neal Barnard, M.D.; recipe by Jason Wyrick of the Vegan Culinary Experience.

  9. Black beans are one of the best foods for your health, your budget, and your waistline. This article will give you a comprehensive introduction to the nutritional value of black beans, along with easy to follow preparation directions that will make you a black bean whiz in no time. Read on to learn the facts about dried and canned black beans, and cooking tips so that you can be sure your black beans will be mouthwateringly plump and tender every time. With so many health advantages to eating black beans on a regular basis, you’ve got plenty to gain from making black beans a part of your regular kitchen repertoire.:

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