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Have you ever gone after something new in your life but found it so incredibly difficult that you gave up? What was that thing for you? For me it has been maintaining the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet.

Many people would consider Paleo to be incredibly restricting — I did in the beginning. But now that I have lived AIP, Paleo is my little slice of “heaven” that I hope one day to get back to. AIP is essentially Paleo minus nightshades, eggs, nuts, seeds, and alcohol. Oh, and coffee and chocolate are off my list too! It is not an easy lifestyle, to say the least.

This past fall I went hard after AIP and began to see my symptoms disappear. My joints quit aching. My hair started growing back. Then the holidays happened, and we traveled. I let myself fall back to Paleo eating and maintained that for the rest of the winter months, letting myself believe that I would be healthy on that diet. I had given up. But my body was telling me that wasn’t good enough. My joints started aching again. My hair started falling out again too. Now what? I knew what I needed to do, but I just didn’t want to admit it.

So I had to come face-to-face with the reality that, whether I liked it or not, feeding my body AIP foods was the solution for me. I hold onto the hope that if I can maintain AIP for a season, I might actually get to go back to Paleo. But the problem for me is being able to maintain AIP 100% all the time.

The reality is that I can’t maintain it 100%. Once I came to a deep understanding of that, I was able to find a new way through. I am refocusing on the goal, which is a little further down the road than I would prefer, but I am learning to accept that reality. Now I just have to fill my life with a few more tools and give myself a little more grace when I fail.

Most of us have a personal goal in our lives that we want to meet, but when we fall short, we believe that there is a problem with the goal. We can’t make it to the finish line, so we move the line to suit ourselves and make life more comfortable. If we do that, we never actually see the growth and change in our lives that we had hoped and longed for. Lifestyle changes are not easy. They take work and determination—but it’s worth it.

What is that “thing” in your life that you have given up on? Maybe it’s losing those extra 15 pounds. Maybe it’s reading more and watching TV less. Maybe it’s getting back on that treadmill. If your last approach didn’t work, get back up and find a new way to keep moving toward your goal. Whatever your goal is, don’t give up! Remember that life is a marathon, not a sprint.