Remember the board game Snakes and Ladders?

You roll the dice to make your way up the board. If you land on a ladder square you climb the ladder to get to the finish line faster, but you got to watch out for the snakes. If you land on a snakehead square, you slide back down to the end of the tail.

And that sucks because you have lost ground and your opponent is happy because they’re more likely to win. The metaphor between this game and life and fitness is becoming more obvious to me.

Sometimes we all have to roll the dice and act on blind faith. Having no idea if we’re making the right decision or not, we take imperfect action.

Are you going to climb the ladder or land on a snake? Do you remember a time you had to roll the dice and it was the best decision you ever made? Let me share a personal example.

Moving to the USA

After I met the woman of my dreams; it was decision time. Stay in Australia and pursue my dream career or move to the USA where I knew nobody but her and had to start from scratch. Granted, it was a tough decision but the right one. I’m coming up on 20 years of marriage and it hasn’t always been easy, but it is worth it.

Yes, I miss Australia, but I would miss her more. I rolled the dice and I landed on a ladder, but it could’ve easily gone the other way. The snakes and ladders game was kind to me.

What’ve Snakes And Ladders got To Do With Fitness?

When it comes to health & fitness some people have the all-or-nothing mindset.

You start a new diet that either restricts calories, fat, or carbs and in the first few weeks everything goes great. The scale numbers are down and you’re not feeling hungry, but then you hit a roadblock.

You’ve given in to a craving you’ve completely eliminated from your diet. and you stuff your face. This results in feelings of guilt, defeat, and the feeling of failure is overwhelming. So you think to screw it, I’ve ruined my diet may as well go hog-wild.

And then you do.

This is an all-or-nothing mindset. In your mind, you feel you’ve hit the snakes hit and slid down to the start when in reality you’ve backtracked a little or stayed in place. All you needed to do is to put this in the rearview mirror and get back on track. Because one slip-up is no big deal.

The same could be said for exercise. You either missed a day, plateaued, or have a minor (hopefully not major) injury. Then this all-or-nothing mindset kicks all and you feel it’s all gone to crap.  All the hard work you’ve done to this point is gone and you’ve slid down the snake. Again, in reality, it’s a pause and you have to stop, roll the dice and find another way to keep moving forward.

The all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to health and fitness needs to be avoided at all costs.

Recently, I Hit The Snake

I’ve made no secret here that I’ve been in therapy for aggressive anger issues for almost two years. This almost put my marriage on the rocks and drove a wedge between me and my children. Using the techniques and advice from my therapist I’ve been better able to deal with these feelings when they crop up.

But recently it got the best of me. My son got into trouble at school again and it was on like Donkey Kong. I was fed up and let him have it and he let me have it. And my other son was stuck in the middle of it.

It was ugly and we both let our anger get the best of us. But as an adult, I should’ve known better.

I rolled the dice and hit the snake square and slid down to square one. Talking to my therapist after this incident he let me know about what I did wrong and reminded me of what works (and what doesn’t) when anger issues bubble up.

Now, moving forward after sliding down needs to happen because my relationship with my son counts on it.

Learning the hard way does slide you backward but hopefully, it ensures you don’t make the same mistakes again.

Wrapping Up

Even when it seems all is lost and you are back at the beginning it’s imperative to roll the dice and stay in the game. Mistakes are always made because we’re human. The trick is to get up, brush yourself off and learn your hard lesson so hopefully, it doesn’t happen again. That’s what I’ll be doing for a while yet.  

But I will hang in there if you will.

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