Did you have a good bank holiday Easter weekend? If it was anything like mine it will have revolved around family, food and alcohol.
Although I indulged whilst cocktail and sushi making, eating Chinese takeaway and plenty of chocolate I did not at any point fall off the wagon, but how?
First lets discuss the wagon. This imaginary wagon everyone jumps on when they’re on a health kick was initially a term used for recovering alcoholics who were on the straight and narrow, staying sober…”falling off the wagon” was when they would have a drink. Nowadays it is used for any addictive behaviour such as smoking and or eating badly.
The wagon is to many the straight and narrow path towards their goal, in most cases it represents perfection and doing anything that is not deemed perfect is “falling off”
The reason I haven’t “fallen off the wagon” is because there is no wagon for me to jump on in the first place.…it doesn’t exist.
People who “get on the wagon” are building themselves up to fail. Why? Because to many people the wagon = perfection and no one is perfect all the time.
When someone “falls off the wagon” they feel disappointed in themselves because they haven’t lived up to the high expectations they have set themselves.
This then gives that person a sense of failure, defeat or weakness and discourages them in their pursuit of goals.
What then usually happens is they spiral out of control and think “f*ck it” and go on a binge.
This would be like scrapping your car simply because a lightbulb blew out.
Instead of beating yourself up every time you fall off the wagon, how about you choose not to have a wagon in the first place. Now I don’t mean go wild and forget your health and fitness goals, I mean don’t strive for perfection and judge your success based on an all or nothing approach. After all, there are times in life when you should enjoy it and relax, think of the bigger picture.
Your health and lifestyle is not black and white, it isn’t as objective as success vs failure, win vs loss, yes vs no. There are grey areas you can move between. Your lifestyle especially when striving for a goal or to improve it in some way should be enjoyable and doable. Your life is like a marathon, you do not need to run the perfect race to achieve your goals, you only have to be making progress towards the finish line.
Instead of a wagon I set myself certain behaviour goals, as long as I carry these out to the best of my ability every day I know I have been successful.
When certain days or times in life pop up I do not tell myself I can’t do something as that makes me either miserable or want to do it more.
I simply ask myself what is important, what are my priorities and how can I best manage the situation. This week it is my birthday, am I going to not have a drink or a slice of cake to celebrate just because it doesn’t match up with my summer body goals? HELL NO!
What I am going to do is stick to my daily behavioural goals
Protein at every meal
Plenty of veg and focus on natural foods
Learn something new
Go to bed by 11pm
And then work hard once my birthday celebrations are over to gain my race pace once again. At no point will I feel bad or guilty, at no point will I over eat, binge or quit working towards my goals because after all what is 1-2 days out of a lifetime?
So ask yourself this, are you setting your expectations unrealistically high? Are you constantly telling yourself you will “get back on it”?
If so, perhaps it is time for a mindset change and to start looking at your life and the race towards your goals in the bigger picture.
Accept that you aren't perfect and there will be times when you aren't as driven towards your goals....that's ok. Accept that there will be times when you will want to relax and enjoy what life has to offer, do not be miserable and prevent yourself from doing anything all for minimal gains. When you do enjoy yourself remove the guilt, see it as normal, this way you won't be discouraged from driving forward.
Set yourself behavioural goals/habits and if at any point you find yourself carrying out behaviours or actions that are moving you further away from your goals, acknowledge it, amend the situation and move on.
Never will you have to fall off the wagon and jump back on again.