Falling off the wagon, in most cases means derailing from a plan, program or specific way of doing a thing.
In the fitness industry, this is seen as quite the faux pas, an indication that one isn’t serious or committed enough about achieving goals.
Since in the court of popular (read public) opinion, everybody’s journey is one upward sloping straight line, any deviations from same are subject to quick and varied judgements, passed down with zero consideration for circumstances or individuality.
It can be hard to handle, if it [public opinion] matters – which it shouldn’t, and even harder to recover from should you judge yourself by said court’s standards.
Can I be real with you here? The truth – which said public will never reveal since they only show the ‘perfect and great’ things – is that there may [and often does] come a time or few, when falling of the wagon is the best and ONLY thing one can do.
If you’re lucky, you’ll fall off with cat like gracefulness, without a scratch. If this is you, you go girl!
But if you’re not, and many of us aren’t, you’ll fall off hard, pick up a few bruises and possibly a broken bone or two.
If you find yourself facing such an experience, rather than fight it, look to embrace it. Not because its likely easier – believe me it isn’t – but rather because there are so many lessons to be had from enduring such a fall.
You can actually come out, on the other side, better for it, Like A Boss.
But first, I suggest you learn how to tuck and roll with it.
Why It Happens
Let me be clear that I’m not referring to those who have neither the will nor the slightest interest in better health and fitness. I am referring specifically to those of us who’ve either spent a great deal of time striving for better health or those just starting out on their own path.
With that said, the lessons however can be applied to just about anyone going through a hard time.
From time to time, situations arise that will throw us completely off our game. I’m talking about the kinds of situations that overwhelm you, sadden you, stress you the hell out, and if you aren’t careful nearly kill you.
Situations can range from death of a loved one, ill health, to losing one’s job/livelihood or even your pet hamster.
It doesn’t matter. The point is, it hits you hard.
Logically, this is the time we ought to turn to our motivating mantras and use whatever inner ‘Deepak Chopra’ we possess to shakra our way out of it.
Some of us will be super successful at it and recover quite quickly – I see you Ms Rockstar! While some of us will fail at it, miserably, at least once, and possibly a few more times for good measure.
Hello! [I’m raising my hand and waving at you]
We are the ones who will see so much [shit] coming at once and either close our eyes and brace for a hard hit, or get so overwhelmed by the possibility that we forget to breathe.
Either way, we end up falling ass over head, flat on our backs with the air knocked out of us.
And rather than try to ninja our way back up – old bones here – we decide to stay there. Catch our breath. Regroup. Come up with a way to find back our footing.
Are our goals no longer important? No. Far from it.
But right now, at this moment or during this period, we choose to focus on finding that footing.
How To Let It Happen
Now in doing this, don’t think it means completely letting go of one’s beliefs or reversing habits we’ve developed over time.
Rather I’m suggesting we learn to understand and be OK with the decisions, some of which may be counterintuitive, we make throughout this falling process, the duration of which is entirely subjective.
The following are three ways to do so.
Re-Prioritize & Let Go Temporarily
If you are already juggling many things when crisis hits, one or a few of these things will fall. It is inevitable, particularly if said life event will require most [read all] of your time.
And with only 24 hours in a day, adding crisis to the mix only makes your ‘get-shit-done’ list that much longer.
It can be overwhelming. We get it.
BREATHE deeply and ASSESS.
Understand that you may need to temporarily let some things go or place on a temporary hold.
Write them down and be OK with it.
Doing so will free up so much energy for pursuing what you need to.
Your world will not end, trust me.
Adjust Your Fitness/Health Routines/Habits
Unfortunately, your fitness and health routines, or aspects of it, may be one of the few things that immediately gets put on the back burner.
That may mean you get 15 minutes of exercise a day instead of an hour, 2 days of yoga instead of 5, you work out at home instead of at the gym, you drink 2L instead of 4L or water, you only eat 2 instead of 3 balanced meals or you get 5 hours of sleep instead of 8 or 9.
Stepping back may mean simply changing your pace. You’ll still be going AND taking control where you can.
It may also mean you miss a week, or a few.
Is it the ideal thing to do? No.
Should it be the norm? Definitely not.
But understand that it’s OK.
Learning to be as fluid as you need to be with your fitness is one way of getting through whatever crisis or situation in one piece.
Know When You Are Feeding Your Feelings And Be OK With It
Throughout any trauma or crisis, there are days when you’ll cry yourself silly. And believe me that can be so therapeutic.
Then there are days where you’ll want nothing more than to feed your feelings…ALL of them…AT ONCE.
It’s in these moments when finding comfort in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s will be the greatest thing on earth. And for the time you are hand deep in it, it sure is.
But as soon as it’s done, there may come the feelings of guilt, despair, shame etc. You can thank years of main stream media and societal standards for that – but that’s a different post.
So before you dive headfirst into that pint, acknowledge what you will be doing.Understand why and be aware and OK with it and any possible consequences, physical or otherwise, of doing so.
A great exercise is to write it down. Taking a minute to do so, may help redirect you from heading down a slope you may not be able to come back from [quickly]. In doing so you remove the ‘self-loathing’ and ‘punishment’ type behaviors typical of post emotional eating.
This is not about making you feel bad, rather it’s to give yourself a reality check.
It’s being an adult, knowing our why’s and owning your decisions with confidence.
Set An End Date To Staying Off The Wagon
If you’re lucky, your crisis will pass in short order and you can get back to your usual way of life.
If it doesn’t, you may have to force the hand and simply take it back.
While the effects of going through a crisis may be lasting, putting things on hold doesn’t have to be.
So, if you are faced with this situation, set an end date for staying off the wagon.
Ask a friend for help, to give you a push if needed. But at some point, getting back up is necessary.
Whether you go back to waking 20 minutes a day, choose to drink a glass of water with each meal, or go to bed an hour earlier just to get extra sleep, taking the smallest of action will get you back on the road to recovery.
It may be a slow process, you may not feel as strong as you used to, or you may need to relearn a thing or two.
That is all OK.
The bottom line is, no matter the situation or difficulty, you can and will rise back to the top, like the boss you are!