Falling off the wagon: A term commonly used to describe when someone no longer maintains a program of self-improvement or abstinence from an undesirable habit.
Most of us, myself included, have claimed to fallen off the wagon. Here in the healthiness world, we use “the wagon” as an easily shared term so that others know where we are. Conversations go like this:
Friend #1: Hey, how’s it going today?
Friend #2: Eh, could be better. I fell off the wagon last night at dinner and ate way too much, plus I had dessert!
Friend #1: Oh man, sorry about that. So what are you going to do?
Friend #2: I don’t know. Figure out how to get back on the wagon, I guess.
I’ve been both friend #1 and friend #2 in that conversation. But here’s where I have a little problem with this whole “on and off the wagon” concept:
To fall off the wagon would imply that…
- We need a vehicle (wagon) and this is a game or a wagon ride.
- We aren’t where we think we should be.
- We need a program.
- The wagon helps us change an “undesirable habit.”
- We aren’t in control of each decision; we are following a program.
Wrong wrong wrong wrong. Let me say that again: WRONG! We control what we want to do and when we want to do it.
This is our lives, people! There is no wagon!
What’s true is that there is a tiny millisecond before each decision made where we consider our options. Every decision has a thought before it. It is in that thought, conscious or not, that we make a decision.
A diet is synonymous with saying we are on a program. This is not a diet or a program, this is our life. We cannot allow ourselves to pretend that this is an on again/off again program or diet. The truth is, sometimes it just seems easier to put the blame on “falling off the wagon” instead of owning up to the fact that each decision has a new thought, a new chance at making a different choice. We must take responsibility for our actions, each one of them.
Here’s what we need to figure out on this healthiness journey:
- We are in control of each decision, not a wagon.
- We don’t need a program, we need passion. Undesirable habits take passion to change, not a wagon!
- There is no place where we should or shouldn’t be. Growth is continuing to move & develop from where we are to where we CAN be.
- We need to make a lifestyle change, not a diet/program change.
- This isn’t a wagon ride, this is forever.
When we live life on or off the wagon, following a diet or program, we will never be able to maintain a healthy life. A healthy life is our life. A diet is temporary. To make life-lasting changes, we must fight to change each decision, one decision at a time. I am a firm believer that it is only when we make decisions for our healthiness life, that we can sustain a healthy life.