Unless you belong to a super-elite, well-oiled raiding machine of a guild you have likely encountered a period in your World of Warcraft life when a boss fight threw a frustrating wall in front of your progression. Depending on your type of guild, you probably handled this in one of two ways. Either you experimented with a bunch of different tactics that you came up with on your own, or you went out and looked up a strategy that worked for someone else and you tried it yourselves. In either case, you took what you learned during those attempts and eventually worked something out that let you defeat the encounter and move along in the instance.
Developing a strategy to figure out what works for you in the real-life health and fitness instance works in almost the exact same manner. I have the great fortune of having the best Weight Watchers leader in the entire world. Admittedly, I may be a bit biased in my opinion, but the simple fact of the matter is that because she is so inspiring and supportive, she's been one of the main reasons I've been on the program since 2001. One of the things that make her so good at her job is that she has the ability to make you see negative results on the scale in a more positive light. If she sees that you are disappointed over your weigh-in, she'll ask you what happened during the previous week. Instead of scolding you if you admit that you didn't follow the program exactly, she'll point out that now you know what happens if you deviate in the way that you did.
When something like this happens, she says you've gone out and gathered information. If you actually pay attention to what your body has told you over the course of the last week and learn from it, you've added that knowledge to your personal arsenal. That will eventually help you get to your goal.
Say, for example, you began a low-carb diet and found out that it made you miserable. Maybe you started a calorie-counting program and discovered that you quickly grew annoyed with the tedium of tracking everything you ate and drank. Perhaps you made a commitment to walk every day, only to discover that you found walking to be an incredibly boring activity. Whatever the case may be, none of these scenarios (or any of the countless other examples I could come up with) would indicate that you have failed. What they represent is the fact that you've learned a little something about yourself that you can use to continue refining your lifestyle choices into something that can help you achieve the results you are seeking.
Maybe you haven't hit the goals you wanted to on your current journey, or maybe you've fallen off the bus altogether. It's OK. Take whatever you've learned about yourself while you were trying and use that information to rededicate yourself toward a new goal. Eventually, you're going to sift through all of the static and lock on to something that connects with you -- and when you finally do, it will be the "failures" you've encountered along the way that you'll have to thank for it.
The status quo is not a bad thing
So what if you've stuck to your exercise and diet routine but still haven't seen the results you want? What if you've stumbled upon the dreaded plateau, and no matter what you do, you can't seem to shake it off?
Regardless of how frustrating they can be (and as someone who has literally spent years hovering around the same weight while actively trying to lose, I can definitely attest to exactly how maddening they are), plateaus aren't always a bad thing. What's important to realize during times like this is that while you may not necessarily be moving toward your eventual goal, you're not moving away from it, either. As a chronic overeater, I know that I can gain weight very quickly if I'm not carefully monitoring my food intake. If I spend an entire year at the same weight, it's a victory for me, because if I hadn't been paying attention to what I was eating, I certainly would have gained. The average American adult gains one or two pounds a year, so any year in which you maintain or only lose a little, you're beating the odds.
The same thing goes for exercise. If you've worked your way up to a certain point but can't seem to muster the will or strength to advance beyond that, you're still in a better place than you would have been had you never started in the first place. Are you annoyed because you can't seem to run a mile faster than 10 minutes? Remember that at one point, you couldn't even run a mile!
Any progress you make is better than no progress at all, and if you look at it the right way, maintaining the status quo looks a lot like progress. Perspective is your friend.
It's not too late
When we started this series of columns, the idea was to give everyone the motivation to get in shape during the months that led up to BlizzCon. With BlizzCon being so close, the temptation for those of us who may not be doing as well on reaching those goals to simply give up is strong. Say, for example, you wanted to lose 30 pounds but never really got around to doing so. Now, with the convention being only four weeks away, there really isn't any healthy way you're going to achieve that goal. With that fact staring you in the face, you may simply decide not to try.
The thing is, it's never too late to make positive changes in your life. Sure, you might not hit the goal you had originally wanted to, but that doesn't mean you have to give up on doing anything good for yourself entirely. If you dedicate yourself to making healthy changes today and stick to it for the next four weeks, you'll still be four weeks further along then you will be if you wait until after the convention to get started. This is, perhaps, one of the biggest mental hurdles that many of us have to get over before we really start making progress. We are too eager to say we'll start "tomorrow" or "next week." We have one too many "last meals" before our big diet. If we screw up and eat something we shouldn't early in the morning, we throw up our hands and say, "Well, the day is shot! I might as well eat whatever I want and start fresh tomorrow."
There is no real-life Ready Check that is going to sound off and let you know it's time to get started on lifestyle changes. If you really want to make a positive impact on your health, the time to start is now. Right this minute. Not tomorrow, or the next day. Not after your last big splurge, and definitely not whenever the next challenge comes around that piques your interest. If you're just discovering this series of articles, or if you still want to use BlizzCon as your target date, simply modify your goals. Lose two pounds by BlizzCon. Commit to walking one mile every day. You don't have to go from couch potato to marathon runner in a month, but you can make changes in your life that will have a long lasting, positive impact on your health.
There are four weeks until BlizzCon. While it may seem as if that's just around the corner, there's still plenty of time for you to commit to making a change for the better in terms of your diet and exercise habits. Whether you've been with us from the beginning but have faltered along the way, or you're just paying attention to this series for the first time and it's struck a chord with you, there is still time for you to Buff(er) for BlizzCon.
Have you ever wanted to write for WoW Insider? Your chance may be right around the corner. Watch for our next call for submissions, and be sure to sign up for Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider. The next byline you see here may be yours!