A Speed Bump or a Cliff?

Slip in a habit is a speed bump

I had a glass of wine at a work dinner last night.

Generally, that’s no big deal.

But I am trying to stay hardline to my Whole30 eating plan.

The essence of that plan:

  • no dairy
  • no grains
  • no processed sugar
  • no alcohol
  • no exceptions
  • for 30 days
  • (some might add ‘no fun’)

By drinking the wine, I did not keep that plan.  And technically, I destroyed my Whole30. According to the site, I’d have to start over.

I get it and appreciate the heart behind being strict with the plan. I’ve done the Whole30 before (ok, I had wine and dessert on Valentine’s Day during that one, but I was perfect otherwise).

I lost 15 and gained it back since (mostly over the holidays).

I want a sustainable approach to my health and fitness. I don’t want to bounce back and forth between 30 day challenges and gluttony. That’s no way to live.

So.  I have a choice.

My glass of wine (two actually) could be a speed bump or a cliff.

It’s up to me to decide which it is.

What is a Speed Bump? What is a Cliff?

I thought long and hard about the terms. There’s falling off the wagon or having a blip on the screen or any number of metaphors to talk about slipping when trying to keep a commitment.

I like speed bumps and cliffs.

The problem with making a major commitment to a new change is that if you fail, you can decide to go over the cliff vs. treating the failure as a speed bump.

Some of us (never me) get so torn up by a single slip that we decide to give up completely.

Giving up completely is seldom the correct option unless your commitment was stupid in the first place.

Treating that slip or failure as a speed bump though? Think about it.

A speed bump doesn’t end in a fiery crash.

A speed bump slows you down.

A speed bump makes you take stock.

A speed bump makes you reevaluate your methods and mindset.

A speed bump can be a blessing to help you think through your approach, reset your navigation, and hit the gas and keep going.

When I decided to drink a glass of wine – a decision I take full responsibility for – I can look at it as a cliff where I let my attempts to keep my current eating plan go up in flames or I can treat it as a mere speed bump.

So far today, I’ve had eggs, spinach, almonds, Whole30 compliant hot dogs (a sketchy decision, but safe), and a plate full of romaine, cucumbers, and spinach).

I want to keep a Whole30-ish diet long-term. That means I’ll allow a glass of wine, a beer, a muffin, or some pancakes every once in a while. I need to get used to being gracious and keeping to it vs. feeling the stress of having to ‘start over’ every time.

My personal main takeaway from this idea: If we are too hard on ourselves when we mess up a bit, we all too often give up and drive our goals over a cliff instead of giving ourselves some grace, taking stock, and trucking on down pass that little speed bump.


One of the main reasons this eating plan is so important to me is that I know I have more energy, more focus, and better sleep when I keep the plan. It’s not completely a vanity thing. In other words, I know this eating plan is a leverage point that can affect nearly every other area of my life. It is essential. I recommend checking out Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less for more on the idea of leveraging effort. (affiliate link)

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