Reframe ‘falling off the wagon’

Today’s blog post is inspired from a recent conversation with one of my clients– and that is the importance of watching our language around our wellness habits. Specifically speaking, using the language of ‘falling off the wagon’.

Of course, we’re not to blame for this. We’ve been groomed in our society (especially in the fitness industry) to believe that there is a time when we are ‘on’ with our wellness and a time when we are ‘off’.

Diets are most popular for this.

Want to lose weight? Start a diet. AKA, something temporary that you can do now and stick to for a few weeks or months, until you are at your desired weight/size, and then you can go back to your regular way of eating.

The unfortunate part of this however, is that we often end up gaining back all of the weight we lost (and sometimes even more), when we go ‘off’ said diet. Not to mention all of the other struggles we often face with these types of ‘quick fixes’.

This past week I shared a mini-series to social media on the 5 most popular myths when it comes to weight-loss or living a healthier lifestyle- and if you haven’t had a chance to check it out, I highly recommend you do!

Today however, we are going to be diving into what exactly falling off the wagon means, why it can actually derail our success, and how to instead create a ‘wagon’ that suits our life better.

Lets get started!

What does ‘falling off the wagon’ mean?

This phrase has been used time and time again, but the idea of it is this:

Imagine for a second that you are looking to get healthier, lose weight, etc., and so you decide that you are going to clean up your eating and jump on a ‘plan’.

The plan you find happens to combine a diet (aka a certain, specific and often restrictive way of eating), workouts, and perhaps a mindfulness activity like meditation or journaling.

Currently you don’t do any of these things, and the particular diet you chose happens to be a way of eating that is much different than what you currently do.

None the less- you are committed and ready to give it your all. You decide to start on Monday, and you go grocery shopping, prep your meals, lay out your workout clothes and buy a new journal.

You dive into this new routine hopeful and optimistic, but soon learn that going from nothing to this big, set ‘plan’ is a lot of work. You push past cravings, desires, wants and maybe even needs (like slowing down, resting, etc.).

But suddenly, the desire to do something ‘off’ of your said ‘plan’ gets stronger.

Maybe it starts with sneaking a piece of chocolate. Or skipping a workout. Or maybe you stop journaling for just a few days. Or maybe it’s a combination of all these things.

Things that aren’t ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’, but things that are not ‘allowed’ on your ‘plan’.

This is when the cycle of shame, guilt, and so much more starts to creep in, and we suddenly get mad at ourselves. We begin to blame ourselves for not sticking to the plan exactly. We tell ourselves that we ‘slipped up’, we ‘cheated’, we ‘did something wrong’, or famously, we ‘fell off the wagon’.

Why is this a bad thing?

Well, besides the obvious shame spiral and negative remarks we often say to ourselves- at this point, one of two things generally happens.

We either chalk it up as no big deal and continue moving forward making healthy choices (the positive step to take, but usually the least likely thing to happen).

OR, we decide that we’ve already failed, so we might as well say fuck it to the rest of the day, sometimes even the rest of the week or month– and we start to binge, become more sedentary, and throw any new habits out the window until we are ready to start the cycle all over again.

The latter (which also happens to be the more common response), is the problem.

Because it’s not simply just our language that is the problem- it’s what happens BECAUSE of the language we use that is the problem.

Thinking that there is a wagon, a right or wrong, or a success or failure, is part of this. And again, we’ve been groomed to think this way in the current wellness, health and fitness industry.

Our language is a very powerful tool, and when we use negative terminology such as this, it becomes very easy for us to beat ourselves up and focus on all the things we are doing ‘wrong’ as opposed to all of the amazing things that we are accomplishing and doing right– which actually ends up derailing our path to success.

So, what’s the solution?

Simply put, the solution is to change our language, and thus change our mindset.

Here’s an idea:

Instead of placing ourselves on a wagon with all our favourite things out of reach ‘off’ of our wagon, what if we brought these things ONTO our wagon?

Hear me out.

Part of the problem with diets is that they create unrealistic expectations and restrictions- making us totally eliminate all of the things that we enjoy.

And when we follow harsh and severe restrictions… the things that aren’t allowed become even more desirable.

We crave them more.
We want them more.
We become OBSESSED with them.

Therefore, removing things from our life and keeping them ‘off’ our wagon is one of the most dangerous things we can do for our own health and wellness.

BUT, if we make changes slowly and work on balance and eating in moderation rather than restriction, things become much easier.

For instance, lets say our favourite snack was popcorn and chocolate.

If popcorn and chocolate was visible from our wagon, but not on it, and we had to LEAVE our wagon to get it- it’s all we’d think about.

But what if we brought popcorn and chocolate onto our wagon and we could have it anytime we wanted? What then?

Well, likely, we wouldn’t crave it or want it as much, because we HAVE the option to have it at anytime. So instead, we’d use it as a treat and keep it as something special so the enjoyment stays high.

Instead of creating restrictions, create a new wagon. A fun wagon. One you actually ENJOY and WANT to be on.

The options of what this looks like are endless, and this is how you create sustainable change.

Moving forward, challenge yourself to pay attention to your language and change the way you look at your nutrition, health and wellness overall.

The more often you do this, the bigger and better your wagon will become, and the easier this will all feel- leading to success in going after your goals.

Ready to create a new wagon? Go ahead and give it a go!


There you have it babe! A new way of looking at your health, nutrition and wellness!


You can also check out my video HERE that I made to explain this subject as well.

Best of luck babe!



Brianne xx

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Hi, I’m Brianne

Here at The Holistic RN you’ll find a place where holistic healing and western medicine come together to create a brand new way of looking at your health- including real food recipes, easy to understand information and overflowing inspiration. Let’s get started!

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