When you don’t reach your goal, you might feel like you failed. Even worse, you might think of yourself as a failure. But you haven’t failed until you stop trying, and no one is truly a failure, as that implies you’ve never succeeded at anything, and everyone has had their successes. If you didn’t reach a goal, it could be because you made a mistake. As Einstein said, mistakes are inevitable. Mistakes are not the same thing as failing. I have learned more from my mistakes than anything else in my life. Mistakes are nature’s teachers. When I make a mistake, I simply mark that off my list as something that didn’t work.

Why am I talking about mistakes on a wellness blog? Because many of our health problems have been caused by our mistakes. Sometimes we knew we were making a mistake — like smoking cigarettes. But sometimes we didn’t. I had no idea I was hurting my body when I was eating my organic, whole grain, homemade bread … until I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. I learned that eating wheat, which contains gluten, may have contributed to my illness, so I stopped eating wheat. After a couple of months without wheat, I decided to have a yummy homemade pizza for dinner. Boy, did I regret it! It was quite obvious that my body did not like it!

It’s been five years now since I stopped eating wheat. But I am not beating myself up for making a mistake that caused me to get an autoimmune disease. It was probably a combination of things that triggered it, and frankly, you’d drive yourself crazy if you tried to protect yourself from every possible health hazard.

So, what did I learn?

Listen to my body. For years, I’d ignored worsening arthritis and constipation. It wasn’t until I got diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that I paid attention. I’d heard that arthritis was caused by inflammation, which is caused by diet, but I didn’t bother to look into it because I thought that it was all about how much cartilage you had left between your bones. I made a mistake, but to be fair to myself, quite a few health care professionals still believe this out-dated bit of information. Unfortunately, I didn’t bother to look beyond their recommendations to simply take the drugs they were prescribing — drugs that destroyed my stomach and set the stage for autoimmunity.

In the past five years, I’ve tried a lot of new things. I’ve read more than a dozen books. I’ve changed my eating habits drastically and started taking a few select vitamins and minerals. And I’ve done what my original endocrinologist said was impossible — I’ve put the Hashimoto’s into remission. Everyone’s path for dealing with autoimmune diseases will be different. There is no simple prescription, no magic pill. It’s a lot of trial and error. That means you can’t worry about making mistakes. Don’t get discouraged if the path to success is not a straight one. My antibody level actually went up before it started to go down. But I didn’t give up.

So, whether your goal is to lose weight or get your blood sugar under control or put an autoimmune disease into remission, you have to be prepared for setbacks and things that don’t work out as well as you’d hoped. But the key is to keep trying. Remember, you have not failed until you stop trying.

Make a real commitment to yourself for the long haul. Don’t dwell on where you’ve been. Focus on where you want to go.

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