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  • Shane Kokas

How to stop falling off the "wagon"

I went on a road trip last week, after a few hours I got a flat tire. Upon realizing this I decided to pop the other 3 tires. Looking back, that doesn’t seem logical, does it?


This is the analogy I used when a client brought up how they noticed they would miss a couple workouts then completely stop and “start fresh next week”. They would eat a little extra at lunch, so decided to say, “Screw it! This day is a write off, I might as well indulge tonight.”


I completely get this way of thinking because I used to think this exact way. “I’ve had a few drinks tonight, I might as well make my way to the snack bar.” “Pizza for dinner? Might just as well add some ice cream for dessert.”


I continued this pattern until one day, I realized I was engaging in some self-sabotage.

I was perpetuating an idea that “if it wasn’t perfect, then what’s the point?” If I slip up or indulge, I might just as well pack it in.


This way of thinking is the easy way out – really though. When things don’t go as planned, we essential give up. It’s stubbing your toe when getting out of bed, so you call it a day. What’s challenging is taking a moment to realize your actions, thought patterns and seeing if they’re rational.


Slashing my other three tires after I see one tire went flat isn’t rational. I am willingly putting myself four steps back, when I only needed to take one. In comparison, why carry that mindset over into your exercise and diet?


I find that you shouldn’t expect anything– your body, your habits, your relationships, or your exercise regimes to be perfect all of the time. It’s unrealistic.


So, what should you do?


1. Change your expectation.


Expect that you will always do your best, in any given circumstance. “Your best”, is all you can ask for and follow through on. Your best today, may look different than the previous day, or the next day or even the next week.


For instance, there was a day I wasn't able to get into the gym for a workout, so I opted for a half hour walk. It might not have been what was planned, perfect or "intense", but it was the best I could do that day.


“Aim to be a little less perfect, for a little more progress.” – Jill Coleman

2. Avoid the ‘all or nothing’ tactic.


I love this strategy. Well I used anyway, until I realized I was on an endless cycle of falling on and off the wagon (anyone else familiar with this damn wagon?).  This strategy is similar to taking 3 steps back when maybe 1 step was necessary – it’s taking the easy way out. For this reason, I think it’s important that people focus on structuring their meals around including their favorite foods.


I’ll ask you this - can you think of your favorite foods, which may not be the most “diet friendly”? Mine would of course be, burgers, chocolate almonds and wine.


After thinking about this, ask yourself if you could go without them for the next few months or years. Like, none. Zero. Most people wouldn’t want to cut out their fav foods. I wouldn’t want to cut out burgers for a year. Hell no.


Brian Wansink (Author of “Mindless Eating”) states, “Denying ourselves something over and over, will ultimately leave us craving it more and more.”


I believe if we focus on denying ourselves something, it is only going to be temporary. If we can rework the plan to moderately include the indulgences we can get off the damn wagon, and set ourselves up for long-term success because we’ll never need to binge (or call it in) due to deprivation.


It’ll take some time and effort to learn this method. It’s something I have a grasp on, but I am still learning more today. However, learning how to control your favorite foods, and not letting your favorite foods control you, is a plan for life long success.

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