The word defeat sounds final.

That’s it; you lost, someone else won, or you let something get the better of you. Or you wanted to achieve something, and it didn’t work out. Either way, you tasted the bitter pill of defeat. Sorry, I’ve always wanted to use this cliché, and I will not promise it’ll happen again.

Because who doesn’t like clichés, right?

Anyway, where was I? Yes, defeat. According to Collins Dictionary, defeat is” the state of being beaten in a battle, game, or contest, or failing to achieve what you wanted.”

Nowhere is this definition that says defeat is final. Right in the definition, it tells the state of being. Then why do you (and me) think defeat or being defeated is the last word? Let’s explore this and how you can come back from a state of defeat.

Let’s State The Obvious About Defeat

Defeat doesn’t feel good; in fact, it feels crap. Because it means your team lost, you failed at something, or something you were working towards didn’t work out. You’re probably mad, angry, disappointed, and blaming yourself or others.

You can’t find a way past those feelings inside your gut and head at that very moment.

It is all-consuming because it hurts, and it should hurt. But after the initial shock of defeat, some feel, well, at least I do, this feeling will last forever. Some bury their heads in the sand; some believe it never happened because it was rigged, and some take a while to overcome the shock of defeat and move on.

Back in 1998, when I saw my team live to lose the championship game, I didn’t pick up a newspaper or watch the sport on TV for two to three weeks. Whenever someone wanted to talk to me about the game, I told them where to go. And it wasn’t somewhere lovely either. I stuck my head in the sand and failed to acknowledge what happened.  

Could I have handled it more maturely? Sure, if I faced the fact that my team just flat-out got beat, I would’ve moved on sooner. If I had sucked up the feelings of defeat and realized it was a state of being instead of the final word, I would’ve been much less angry.

But in the health and fitness realm, which I have been a part of for a while, I see people take defeat as the final word. They undo all their good work because of a minor or significant setback and go back to the bad habits that got them in a mess to begin with.

Health & Fitness Defeat

Here’s a scenario that many a fitness professional has seen, and it may apply to you or a friend, but it’s pretty standard.

Bob started an exercise and diet program, which has been going great. He is losing weight, feeling great, and enjoying his workouts because he sees results. Then the results stop, and life and all it entails get in the way of going to the gym.

Bob starts going backward, doesn’t handle this defeat well, and gives up.

Or Sue is at a party when she has changed her way of eating but is not seeing the results she’d like. She spies one of her trigger foods on the table and cannot stop thinking about it. Sue tells herself just one bite, and I’ll be happy, and before she knows it, she has eaten the whole thing and feels like a failure.

Because of this minor setback, Sue says screw it and returns to her old ways. She didn’t see results anyway, and this health and fitness thing is not for her.

Does any of this seem familiar?

Bob and Sue took a minor defeat, didn’t see a way around it, and made a state of being into a more permanent situation. Both turned a minor defeat into being defeated. So, how do you avoid this when it comes to your health and other problems you find yourself in?

The solution is simple but not easy.

Two Tips To Handle Defeat Better

You might already know, but it may help to be reminded.

The definition of defeat is a state of being temporary, but a lot treat it as final. So how do you snap out of it? By a simple mindset switch and two words. Next time you suffer a setback, say to yourself, this is how it is “for now.”

Yes, you suffered a defeat, but it’s not forever, and only for now does it sting. Soak in that feeling, don’t deny it, and bury it. After your self-pity party, which I have been to plenty, tell yourself this is how it is FOR NOW. Not forever but temporary, and then jump right back on the horse that bucked you off.

Yes, another cliché, but I did warn you.

The second tip is simple but tough to do. Forgive yourself. If Bob and Sue forgave themselves and realized they couldn’t change what had already been done. If they had treated their failure as a temporary defeat, maybe they wouldn’t have given up.

This is easier said than done because, in some respects, it’s easier to forgive others than it is yourself. But you owe yourself to forgive yourself. This probably will not happen overnight, but it pays to work on it because you deserve it.

Wrapping Up

Defeat is not final and shouldn’t be treated as such. Failure sucks, and it is a part of being human to face it, but don’t run from it. Soak in those feelings, face defeat by forgiving yourself, and keep telling yourself this is not forever.

Your physical and mental health will be better for it.


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