Stop Falling off the Weight Loss Wagon for Good

A term I hear a lot in the weight loss/diet/fitness/healthy lifestyle world is “I fell off the wagon and can’t seem to get back on.” If you are like millions of other people (that number is not based on statistical data), you struggle with falling off the proverbial wagon too.

Here’s the thing…for whatever reason, we thinking the wagon is what we should strive for, but the truth is that the wagon is the problem, not the solution.  Seriously.

The proverbial weight loss wagon is one that haunts many of us who struggle with our weight, whether we’re working to lose weight, or working to keep it off. And falling off that wagon is what makes of feel like we’ve failed, like we’re hopeless, helpless and not in control. It affects our confidence in ourselves, inhibits feelings of self-love, and ultimately affects our ability to succeed.

Many people can follow a diet plan, even the strictest of plans for a period of time– especially if they are seeing results. But one “slip up” (erase this term from your vocabulary after this sentence) and they “fall off the wagon” (erase this term as well) by to returning to old habits, gaining weight they lost, or even just experiencing a few days of not staying “strict”. (let’s go ahead and erase that word too)

The Wagon

Historically speaking the “wagon” was a vehicle used to water down dusty roads during the summer months back before we had paved roads…you know, so people could breathe and stuff. Men who were abstaining from alcohol would say they were “on the water wagon” and if they returned to drinking alcohol they would say they had…well, you know.

Now when I think of a wagon, I instantly get an image of a covered wagon, not the same thing as a water wagon by any means, but it provides a good visual for me that encourages ditching the wagon for good.

During the prairie movement, wagons were notorious for being death traps– dirty, stinky, rickety, dangerous, death traps.

They didn’t provide much shelter from the elements– hot, sweltering, germ infested bubbles in the summer, and freezing cold, still germ-infested, wind-tunnels in the winter. They were confined; extremely uncomfortable, mini-prisons that provided wagon goers with two choices– endure the misery of sitting in/on the wagon, or walking next to it for miles and miles and miles each day, trying to reach an unknown destination in hopes of a better life.

Trying to lose weight and maintain weight-loss can feel just like that covered wagon, making it impossible to stay on, willingly. Which is why I’m a proponent of ditching the wagon completely and losing it for good. Literally and figuratively.

Once you get rid of that wretched wagon you are free! Free from guilt and shame, and onto living your best, happy, healthy, I’mperfect Life.

Freedom means you are in control, you feel peace and joy, and failure is no longer an option.

So let’s ditch the wagon for good, starting with a breath of fresh, clean air!

Here’s How

Know your short and long-term motivation

Having a strong “WHY” is absolutely necessary for creating true lifelong change. If your “why” is just, “to lose weight” or “to fit in that dress” or “to be healthy” you’re setting yourself up for failure. I mean, I know those all sound like fine reasons to lose weight, and they are, but their just “fine.” If you’re like me, and hundreds of thousand of others (maybe even millions) you’ve used those as your “why” many times in the past and still find yourself stuck in the cycle of diet/fail/repeat, right? So let’s do something different. Instead of making a blanket statement that has no real value let’s be more specific.

I want to lose weight because I feel uncomfortable in my body right now. I know that if I am able to lose 10% of my current body weight that my body will feel better! I’ll have more energy, feel stronger, be able to go longer, and live a full and active life.

Make choices that allow you to feel good now and later

Instead of trying to convince yourself to follow a diet and exercise routine solely to lose weight, tell yourself the following:

I will make choices each day that support the healthy lifestyle I want to live so I don’t have to wait to feel good. I will feel my best right now by eating to nourish my body. I will move more to strengthen my body. And I will love myself just the way I am at this very moment, because what I do and why I do it NOW is what ultimately affects my future.

Create realistic guidelines and boundaries for yourself

The truth is, you can’t lose weight without making some sacrifices but that doesn’t mean you need to find a diet plan that makes promises of weight loss and then stick to it to a T. Consistency is absolutely necessary but you are the boss of you which means you get to set the guidelines and boundaries. Make sure you set yourself up for success.

If you travel for work, it’s unrealistic to follow a plan that requires you to carry around color coded plastic containers of pre-made food. If you have four kids and have 20 minutes to prepare dinner every night, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to spend an hour preparing some fancy paleo recipe. But you can determine your caloric and macro nutrient needs and plan your meals around those no matter where you are or how hectic your schedule.

If you work a full-time job with an hour commute, have napping babies, or any other scheduling conflicts that are out of your control, going to a 6pm workout class may not work for you no matter how good your intentions. This is why you must create a plan that you can do consistently and then do it.

Change your vocabulary about food and exercise

We have learned to demonize food rather than eating foods to nourish our bodies most of the time and eat foods for pleasure something the time, enjoying all of our food, all of the time. (Read Rule #2 for Living an I’mperfect Life)

We have decided that we need to exercise out of obligation rather than doing it because it feels good! (Read Rule #3 for Living an I’mperfect Life)

It’s time to stop earning food or punishing ourselves with exercise. We need to eat and move to feel our best, physically, mentally and emotionally without perceived failure, consequence, or reward.

Never “start over,” just keep moving forward

Starting over is what perpetuates the cycle of diet/fail/repeat– even if you’re just talking about tomorrow.

If I had a dime for the number of times I used to say, and continue to hear from others, “I’m starting over tomorrow!” Or even words of encouragement to others like, “Just start over tomorrow!” Or, “Tomorrow is a fresh start!”  I’d be rich! (yes, super cliche, I know, but it’s true.)

When we believe that we’ve “messed up” to the point of needing to “start over” we’re telling ourselves we’ve failed. We’re not crocheting a scarf for crying out loud! We can’t go back and undo the last row of stitches and redo them, and there’s no need to; we’re all just living our lives, doing the best we can.

That’s why there’s no such thing as messing up when it comes to living a happy, healthy, I’mperfect Life. There’s no starting over. We just keep moving forward. We take responsibility for the choices we make, whether they are ideal or not and use them to propel us forward.

Sometimes there are lessons to be learned that can help us create new habits but there’s no need to start over…or get back on the dreaded wagon.

Just ditch it for good!