Spring Forward, Fall Back: Pushing Through the Setbacks

Spring Forward

Spring Forward, Fall Back

Spring Forward…Fall Back… Here in California that is an easy way to remember which direction to set the clocks when the time changes.

But for me, this phrase pertains to a lot more in my life than just time.

Whether we want to lose weight, build muscles, learn a musical instrument, take art lessons, start writing a blog, or begin a new business venture, we find that we will “Spring Forward” enthusiastically for a time, only to see ourselves “Fall Back” with some failure or hardship.

Why do we do this?  And how can we stop it?

In my convoluted mind that loves puns, it reminds me of something else:  Set Points!

Indeed, what are Set Points?

Tennis scores or Electric Motors aside, set points often refer to the stalemates one experiences when attempting to lose weight. Our bodies try to maintain a consistent weight and temperature.  If we eat less, our metabolism will slow down to attempt to keep our weight the same.  If we eat more, our metabolism increases to help us burn the extra calories.

True to one of my previous blogs on The Final Season, I decided to try to be healthier.  This decision was cemented when a personal trainer addressed our Rotary meeting. His opener: “How would you like to be younger by this time next year?” That captured my full attention.  He went on to discuss the various systems of the body, from the brain, to balance, to muscle groups, to fatty acids to food values.

His suggestion:  “Each of you hit the floor. Do pushups until you can’t do any more. Rest a day. Then do it again. Your wonderful body will recall the need and you will be able to do slightly more each time”. It is a fact that our marvelous muscles will remember and give us more, as long as we consistently require more from that particular muscle group.  This is referred to as “exercising to the point of momentary failure” which will create new strength set points or personal bests.

I was fascinated!  Although personally my upper body strength would have me on my face on the first push-up, I could see the possibilities.  And then my mind went on to think of set points in other areas.

What about weight loss?  Why is it that I could lose my excess vacation weight from poor road trip eating in a couple of weeks, but as soon as I got 2 pounds below my old set weight, all these barriers and “hungers” came at me from every direction????  Am I doomed to always weigh what I have weighed for the last several years?

(Here is another interesting read on Set Points with regard to weight loss.)

The argument is that it is as much a psychological set point as it is a physical one. We become subconsciously comfortable with the familiar, even though we don’t really like being there.  If we are willing to see it as possible to break through, we are more likely to be successful.

We also have an emotional set point.

We all have moments of elevated joy or excitement, and other times of sadness, feeling low or angry. Then we come back to our own norm. My emotional set point falls naturally at a positive, trusting level. Some have a set point that is more negative, less trusting. Each is normal and not a judgment call. Yet, if we truly want to change our emotional set points, we can work on this as well.

Everything we desire or attempt in our lives, every new thing we wish we could do has to start with a thought, progress to a plan of action, and finally become a part of our routine.

I would suggest that we admit that we do have natural set points. We have them, but we do not have to be limited by them.

Via Pinterest


Two places where limitations spring from are:

1.  Personal Fears

We have old recordings in our heads from childhood, unkind remarks from someone we admired, and from junk we told ourselves when we previously had a “Fall-Back”.  We believe we can’t change or that the new change will somehow make us uncomfortable.

2.  Lack of Understanding

Our muscles are miraculous. They seem to know we need them to be stronger when we exercise consistently to the point of momentary failure. Even so, we need to come to the understanding that in every area, our body and minds are capable of breaking past our natural set points.  All it takes is desire, a plan of action and consistently bringing ourselves to the point of “TEMPORARY Failure” in that area.

How exciting is THAT???

Meet Matt Pepe: a young man in his 40’s who decided to quit his job and backpack abroad for 6 months. Six months became six years. He followed his dream. He stretched his mind, his muscles, his set points, not once but many times.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.

Matt Pepe will never be the same man who left home 6 years ago. If you and I will stretch ourselves to the point of temporary failure in a given area over and over, we too, will never be the same.

There is of course, an opposite.  The result of doing nothing:  atrophy.  Atrophy of our minds, atrophy of our muscles, atrophy of our health, atrophy of our abilities, atrophy of …our dreams.

Stretch yourself!  Spring Forward!  And every time you Fall Back, which is inevitable, will yourself to get up and Spring Forward one more time.

Would you share your thoughts, perhaps your struggle with difficult achievements that pushed you past your own set points?  Others can be inspired by what you write.

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Molly grew up in and around funeral homes her entire life. In 2009 she began working for O'Connor Mortuary and found a bridge between her passion for writing and her interest in grief and bereavement. In 2016 she earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. She is honored to be able to write about these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective.


  1. Patricia Kolstad says:


    Thanks for sharing this valuable lesson with all of us. We do have moments of greatness . . . worked out 3 days in a row, finished a deadline project ahead of time . . . things that make us feel accomplished, on track. Then there are the times when after 3 days in a row, we don’t work out for a week, because we are so busy with the next deadline project . . we’re just way too tired.

    As we age, I still find myself with the desire to exercise, eat well, and stay healthy. Falling back is the norm. I’m anxious to see what the next 6 months holds for me. There’s an excitement in my heart and another wonderful desire to Spring Forward and make things happen!



    • Anne Collins says:

      I have such high hopes for stepping out of my norm and moving higher to new goals and points of improved strengths. My intentions are amazing!!
      The most amazing part of the blog is the part I did not write. When you have time, go to the link about Matt Pepe.
      I know what you mean about future months enabling you to do more. They will, and you will, and you deserve it.

  2. Carrie Bayer says:

    Anne, I love this blog! You have been a huge support & insertion to me for years- you always know just what to say & what is needed in that moment. You know me so well that you can tell how I’m doing at a glance. I have taken your advice to heart many times & you are always spot-on. Thank you for your bring spirit, I love you! Carrie

    • Carrie Bayer says:

      I meant “thank you for your CARING spirit”…. Oopsie!

    • Anne Collins says:

      Don’t you hate how the computer program tries to correct your spelling and think for you? I know you meant inspiration and the computer put “insertion”, also. Well, that inspiration goes both ways. You are an inspiration in your maintaining your great core body weight. You have a caring and generous spirit for those who need more than they have. You have the gift of encouragement, even when you need it yourself more. We all aspire to something we see in our friends. If there is nothing to aspire to, it reduces to a mere acquaintance. You will always be a friend.

  3. Lori says:


    This is a post that speaks to me on many levels.
    As far as emotional set points, I too tend to be positive and trusting. I assume everyone’s intentions are the same as mine, pure. The problem with my emotional set point is when people break my trust I am absolutely devastated. It is hard for me to find a comfortable norm in these situations. I strive to find ways to adjust that are foreign to me because I tend to want to share of myself with everyone. I am a work in progress in this area.

    Your reference to Matt Pepe also spoke to me. I have often thought how wonderful it would be to visit Europe again. Many times I have fantasized about how romantic and wonderful it would be to live there. I use the crutch of my family obligations that keep me from pursuing these dreams. With each passing year I have become more set in my ways. More than ever I must challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone.

    I love posts that make me think and make me uncomfortable. This post did just that. It made me uncomfortable in a good way. Some of my set points should be adjusted so I truly take advantage of all that life has to offer. I have become too comfortable with ruts and routines.

    Love you,

  4. Anne Collins says:

    Thanks for sharing. What you said about being open and trusting and then not receiving the same in return is something I identify with. I was worse when I was younger. I am just as open, but now my expectations are less. The most ideal quote I ever saw on this was: “He who expects nothing shall not be disappointed.” Rather tongue in cheek, but actually very freeing. I can continue to be who I am and others are free to be who they are and there is no hurt when there is no expectation. Then, anything I do get back is icing on the cake.
    I have never been to Europe except to change planes on the way to Romania and that was for missions not pleasure. Like you, I would love to go sometime just to see the beauty, art and history that can still be enjoyed.
    My posts make ME uncomfortable as I contemplate the truths of the issues I explore.
    Love you too

  5. Annie,

    Great Post, great topic and great writing. We all have our comfort levels don’t we, very hard sometimes to break them and challenge ourselves to stretch and leave our cozy zones, whether it be mental, physical, spiritual or otherwise. The coolest thing though is nobody can stop us but ourselves, we have the power. Easier said then done of course, but nothing worth while comes easy does it. I’m not immune, I also can take one spring forward and fall back but I at least still try to keep moving forward. It is OK to fail, “Fall back” it just means a new beginning and a new opportunity. Keep trucking Anne!


    • Anne Collins says:

      On every level I see the comfort zones trying to take over. The thing is, usually they don’t represent status quo, but insidiously losing ground. It takes planning to succeed in an area to keep from failing, don’t you think?
      I love the concept that every day is a new beginning, fresh and clean with no mistakes in it.

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