By Hollis Taylor

Even if you swear your not dieting and simply working on changing your lifestyle, I often hear the phrase “falling off the wagon.” Many people around me are aware that I try to make good food choices and my clients feel like failures when they “fall off the wagon.”  So when they are making not so good choices they often feel the need to tell me why they have recently “fell off the wagon” Often they are surprised at my response. Often its just one simple sentence, “As long as you don’t stay fallen then its no big deal.”

That’s the trick to changing your lifestyle and losing weight permanently. So part of it is certainly education about what foods are good for you. Learning about portions, a balanced diet, and exercise are simply academic. In order to change our lifestyle and really examine our relationship with food we kind of NEED to “fall off the wagon” because it reveals a very important key. Simply it reveals all the unhealthy reasons we eat. Most of us at some point have sat down with a bowl of ice cream, candy, cake or pie and devoured it as we mourned or processed some sort of sad or depressing emotions. Believe it or not your body can handle that occasionally, the issue is when you do it every day or several days a week. The trick to the lifestyle change is to evaluate why we are eating that way and see if we can’t find other tools, other than food, to help us deal with uncomfortable feelings.

When I first started losing weight I would “fall off the wagon” at some sort of life trigger and then get mad at myself for it. Then even worse I would continue the unhealthy trend. The trends would sometimes seem to go on and on and I couldn’t tell you how many times I just kept the trend up because I simply gave up. There was something wrong with me, something so broken that I couldn’t do anything but eat and obsess over eating. It was a habit of mind. It was a comfortable place. I would break the trend and eventually try to lose weight again, but after a while I would fall off again. These days the unhealthy trends rarely last more than a day or two, most times its only a part of a day. These days I can clearly feel, sense, and understand how the unhealthy hurts my body, mind,  and soul. Sometimes I give in and other times I allow myself a treat, because its an appropriate time. But every night is too much and most of us know that. There has to be a balance rather a good/bad judgement on our eating. Instead simply reminde yourself why those things are unhealthy and return to loving yourself again. So if your having an ice cream treat because you haven’t had any in a month than that sounds healthy. The first step to healing unhealthy habits is to recognize them, find their drive, and then find a healthy replacement.

Food is not like other addictions and must be treated differently. We can’t just simply NOT HAVE ANY FOOD because it is required to survive in the world. The more we deny having certain foods the more we are driven to eating them. Any extremes in food seem to bring up certain failure, some of us find this is also true for most “addictions” Ultimately you must find what works for you but certainly “falling off the wagon” shouldn’t summon self punishment or pity. Instead forgive yourself and know your not perfect. Instead love yourself and figure out what you can replace that food with. Try new things and see what feels good. Pay attention to how you feel when you do this instead of eating.

There are so many things to try here’s a starter list:

  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Gardening
  • Writing
  • Art
  • Music
  • Spa like treatments
  • spiritual practices
  • walk in the park
  • hiking
  • massage
  • quality time with a loved one

The most important part of this entire thing though, the most important part! Simply, if you fall off – GET BACK UP! Every-time, no matter how long you been down, get back up and try again. Brushing our teeth and showering are important healthy activities, if we messed up and didn’t do it for a few days, we would certainly return to our healthy activity at some point. I noticed in the beginning when I would first try it would be great and then I would stop using my healthy alternative to eating and end up with my unhealthy trend again. This meant I had to pick myself up again and again, I had to climb back on the wagon. It’s okay to “fall off the wagon” just be sure you get back up. This took me learning self love and forgiveness. Although I KNOW I fell more then seven times this Japanese Proverb was helpful when I was feeling defeated.

Helpful quote

Fall Down Seven times, get up eight times