I’m going to link to a post that both has nothing to do with the outdoors or weight loss, and has everything to do with them.

One my friends is a talented writer, Rick Theule. The Rickster is at work on a book, in addition to posts for his website. He recently announced at his website, “I’m a failure.”  As Theule wrote, comparing his absence from his website to not pulling weeds from his garden daily, “Why do we do this to ourselves? We know better. We all know the benefits of spending a few minutes every day working on the yard, doing the laundry, washing the dishes, and multiple other tasks. Yet we let the dishes sit until the counter is no longer visible and we have to clean one bowl for our cereal in the morning.

“So, I’m a failure.

“But, I have time to change. I can become a success. My yard can look outstanding! I can write a few thousand words every week.”

I respectfully disagree with my friend. I’ll go further and say his thinking is harmful to his goals, and harmful to anyone who shares it.

And there are lots of people who share this thinking, and project it on others. For instance, I was on a hike in Valley Forge National Historic Park a couple of years ago with a friend who insisted “Neil, face it, you’ve failed at weight loss.”

We stopped and leaned against one of the cannons along the trail.

“I don’t agree.”

“Look, you lost 160 pounds. And you gained some back. Because you didn’t keep that weight off, you failed.”

“I can’t agree.”

“Logic speaks the truth regardless if you agree or not.”

“OK, faux-Vulcan, think about this. I went from not being able to walk a city block to hiking this trail with you today. I lost 160 pounds and learned I could lose that weight. If you don’t think that’s success, you don’t know what success is.”

“That’s silly. That’s the same sort of thinking that gives out prizes to every kid who shows up for the chess tournament.”

“Bad analogy, and please don’t give me flashbacks to my tournament director days.”

“Its a good point. You want to call anything a success. Including your getting fat again.”

“Not at all. And the analogy is horrible. Chess, football, racing, competition of any kind has winners and losers. Self-improvement isn’t a competition.Its a process. In chess the game is over when someone resigns, a draw is agreed, or the king is mated. My weight loss game is over when I’m over. I’m not tipping my king yet.”

“So fat guy, what when I tell you that you weighed 400 pounds, then 240, and now 320, is that what you call success? What do you call success?”

“400 pounds was a living death. Now I live every day.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“Its the best answer. I’m participating. And your argument is like these cannon. LARGE BORE.”

We continued to argue, as we always did and always do, but that’s the basic point. Failure isn’t not reaching or maintaining a goal, its not participating when you want to. This applies to weight loss, where people find maintaining hard and make mistakes. It applies to my backing trip, where I didn’t complete the Loyalsock Trail as I’d planned. And, to get back to Mr. Theule, it applies to a writer who starts a website, commits to writing projects, and starts the process of learning how to handle the time commitments of the craft.

If I told myself I wasn’t a failure because I didn’t complete my hike, because I had trouble with my weight loss, or because I didn’t blog regularly, I’d likely stop participating. And THAT is failure.

As we often say around here, “The outdoors is for everyone.”

Be a success.


Don’t let anyone tell you that you are a failure for not meeting some standard.

And especially if that anyone is you.