“Success is my only motherfucking option, failure’s not” -Eminem, Lose Yourself

Modern day poet, Eminem, put it about as succinctly as possible, failure is not an option. Success, however, is not the absence of failure. Rather, success is merely the status you achieve between failures.

Giving up is what most people mean when they use the word failure. The internet is full of stories about successful people failing, what sets the winners apart from the losers, however, is perseverance.

Failure is temporary.

How do you pick yourself back up and keep going after a failure?

The other week I was out of town for a wedding. It was a blast. But, I was staying with friends and eating meals where the menu, for a large part, was out of my control. In addition to the food, there were drinks, which I personally believe to be an important part of any celebration.*

I failed on my diet and on my challenge, but it was temporary. I didn’t give up. Rather, In the course of a 53 minute flight, I put my failure behind me and was back on a path to success. I drank a lot of water to re-hydrate. I went straight back to the gym and got right back on my strict diet.

One meal, one day or even one weekend are not going to ruin your diet any more than one weekend at the gym is going to give you a chiseled physique or a salad is going to get rid of your love handles.

Fail Fast.

Sometimes you cannot avoid failure. One valuable piece of business advice for entrepreneurs is “Fail fast and fail often.” I am not sure the “often” piece applies as well to a nutrition challenge, but failing fast is really important. Whether it is a little hunger pang, an injury or another lapse, the faster that you can move beyond that speed bump the better.

As Henry Ford said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, only more intelligently.” Fail fast, learn from your failure, and move on.

WebOne example I think everyone can relate to is hunger. How often do you get a little hungry, and then by the time you get to a meal you are starving and eat more than you should or make poor food choices because no healthy food is available? Learn from this. For me, I have learned that it is better for me to fail by eating something small and quick, rather than trying to outlast my hunger. Even if it isn’t the healthiest option, that can be okay.

Hunger is a survival instinct. Even though most of us are not anywhere close to starvation, our body does not always know that. And if I had to place a bet, I would take your evolutionary survival instinct over your will power, every time.

With injury, the response is different. If you get injured, your ability to exercise will be impaired. You may not be back to your normal workouts for some time, but modify your workout not your routine. That way failing to make it to the gym does not become your routine. Again, as humans we have certain predictable behavior patterns. If we take a week off, our bodies and schedules quickly adapt to that state and getting back under the bar becomes much more difficult. Even if all you can do is show up and ride a stationary bike, which is better, much better, than nothing. Get back to doing something, as fast as you can.

Plan Your Failures.

Most failures are predictable. Our birthdays, Thanksgiving and other events are all times that we know our compliance will slip. If you are going to travel, have meetings or be away from the gym, you typically know well in advance. Have a game plan. Don’t let your failure sneak up on you. A plan of action will get you through your failure and back on the path to success.

I knew the wedding weekend in Chicago was going to be tricky, and I was okay with that. But I wasn’t going to let it happen without some preparations. I adjusted my workout schedule so that I had gotten in my typical weekly routine by Thursday morning, as opposed to Friday. I planned to be active while out of town, and I brought food options which traveled well, nuts, etc. I also anticipated which meals would be the trickiest to manage. That way, I could make smarter eating choices around those meals.

Sometimes you cannot foresee a specific lapse, but again, you can probably predict the nature of most failures. Have a game plan that you know you can use if necessary. Stress is an example of a commonly unforeseeable event. Something happens at work, or at home, and your level of stress goes through the roof. If you have a plan to manage your diet and exercise through a stressful situation, not only will that mitigate negative effects of the stress, but it will allow you to more effectively work through the stress and return your life to the status quo.


Failure is not an option, it is a given. You will fail, but don’t give up. Plan ahead, fail fast, and remember that the state of failure is temporary, and will only last as long as you let it.


My gym’s 8-week nutrition challenge is coming to a close. I will conclude this series with a few additional pieces informing you how I perform on the assessment tests, etc. However, as you probably know, this challenge has not only changed my behavior for the past 8-weeks, but hopefully for the months and years to come as well. As Always, I hope you have found these posts as helpful as I have. I encourage you to find your own challenge and start today, you will be amazed at what you can do, I guarantee it.


*There are many great reasons not to drink: you’re driving, you’re pregnant, you are an alcoholic, for religious reasons, etc. Those do not happen to apply for me in this situation.



About The Author

Steven Schoenberger

Steven is a former estate planning and trust attorney turned life insurance and wealth management professional with Tamar Fink, in Minneapolis, MN. He is a husband and father of four. Steven is a CrossFitter and former swimmer.