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. Anne,
    This blog is so interesting. I’ve never heard of set points before but I’ve seen evidence of them for a long time. I’ve just started a running regimen and just within the first week or so I began to run the same distance with more and more ease. Really is remarkable what the human body can do.
    I think the emotional set points are the most interesting. I’ve begun to realize that I am repeatedly learning a lot of the same lessons. But each time I revisit and old issue or uncover another layer of it I am pushing past an emotional set point and going deeper into my mind & self than I’ve ever been before. That’s a bit scarier to me than just hopping on a treadmill & running but it is so so good to know when you are making progress.
    Thank you for the inspiration. Great post~


    • Anne Collins says:

      Congrats on the running. That is very cool. We all have to start somewhere. I have changed my running of the younger years to walking, but it is all good.
      You are a thinker and enjoy contemplating or ruminating on an issue. This is why you seem an “old soul” inside your young a vibrant self.
      You will get measurable satisfaction by setting new points of strength on the treadmill. I think we also get satisfaction by pushing past our fears and concerns in the emotional realm. It seems I only recognize those in retrospect or when sharing honestly with a younger person and realize I used to feel that way and have moved beyond it. Encouraging, isn’t it?

  2. Anne,
    A great connection between physical and emotional set points…I would add “spiritual set points” which remind us that we have to cooperate with God’s grace for the areas of our hearts that prefer to stay within our comfort zones.

    This past year, I took up the sport of triathlon and after doing a couple sprint triathlons (small races), I decided to take the plunge of doing a Half-Ironman…a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run. I wish I would have had this post about set points before I started. By far, the greatest thing I learned in the process of training was this simple truth, “You can go MUCH FARTHER than you think you can.” Our body, our mind, and our Spirit will keep pushing us along as we refuse to accept former limitations or those things we thought impossible.

    After dealing with chronic pain for 10 years, by God’s goodness, He’s enabled me to push through the setbacks with new hope and enthusiasm.

    A wonderful post…thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences…now go write that book!

    • Anne Collins says:

      I totally agree with you on the spiritual set points. Too often I have embarked on a quest for deeper knowledge, or more quiet time to contemplate and pray, only to allow any and everything to seem more important to “do first”. Not only does the concept of a daily quiet time need to become sacred, but I would go farther to say we need a quiet day in the week, where we gear down and relax and rest from our labors. Only then can we hear, see and understand the deeper things our souls require.
      For you to push against the message of pain to challenge the extreme physical goals it takes to accomplish the Half-Ironman says a lot for your character and your will. To see your own points of personal failures over and over and yet know there is more inside shows that you totally know what I was trying to impart in this small blog.
      Congratulations, Joey. You are also an inspiration.

  3. GREG FORSTER says:


    Marvelous, marvelous, marvelous!

    You’re being is simply being wasted sitting at your humble desk crunching humble numbers! Push ourselves…shove ourselves…maybe allow others to shove us (even if we don’t like it).
    Sometimes I think OCM should build you a white, wooden soap box with a ladder…10 ft. up and right at the sidewalk on Alicia Pkwy., give you a megaphone and let you have at it at lunchtime to all comers (drivers and walkers)that pass by.

    I learned lessons years ago (one from an older lady on a post college trip to Europe AND YES, HER NAME WAS ANNE ALSO). We were in Greece and the Greek female tour guide, much younger than that Anne, kept making remarks to the fact that us Americans are soft and couldn’t make it up a quite sizable hill in the middle of nowhere to see somebody’s earthen tomb. It was hot… this Anne, indignant, took off ( old enough to be my grandmother) and beat her up the hill, to the guides amazement who finally was put in her place and SHUT UP. Anne winked at me, college grad young guy that I was, and said something to the effect of “life is there…go for it…and don’t judge anything strictly by appearances…keep going/moving as long as you can. If you move, you will indeed move, and enjoy the “moving”along the way.” I stood for a moment with a quiet smile on my face…watching this not so old lady “ripping” up the hill in her own way…then to myself I quietly admitted that this was profound advice…and then in my humble way I took off after her…with a slight smile on my face to boot.

    Keep moving me and us with your thoughtful wisdom.

    It makes our days better ones.

    Best, Greg

    • Anne Collins says:

      I wait for your comments to my blogs because they will always entertain me.
      Well, since you don’t judge anything by appearance, maybe you think I am capable of a marathon or a half ironman like Joey. And since elephants are eaten one bite at a time, I am not saying I’m not. Just not this morning.
      Thank you for your wit, wisdom and word pictures. I see myself up on that soapbox and in all probability, I am saying into the megaphone: Hurry and do your advance planning with Greg while he still has a vacancy in his schedule today.
      Thanks, Greg. Get off your duff and write a blog!

  4. Fitz says:

    Hi Anne,

    This is a great blog. I think our human nature is to want to feel comfortable. We tend to take the path of least resistance because it’s known and it makes us feel comfortable, secure. Your blog is a great reminder that in order to grow physically, mentally and spiritually that we have to step outside of our comfort zones to realize true gains.

    Thanks for your words of encouragement and for sharing.


    • Anne says:

      Thanks for your comments. (It doesn’t tell me any more when I have a post, so needed to finish month end before I did more looking at this.) You would be happy to hear that, right?
      I am doing sooo much springing forward and falling back physically, but I am NOT giving up on my exercise and eating better. Sooner or later, it all has to pay off.
      And, true to my Thanksgiving blog, I have turned over a “old” leaf and am taking the time once again in the morning for spiritual inspiration to take place. It all takes a desire, planning, discipline and setting aside time.

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