Things are going great. You have been eating well, moving your body regularly, lifting heavy things, getting good sleep. Then bam! You fell off the wagon with a resounding thud. Perhaps it was triggered by a crisis at work, the loss of a loved one, a vacation, a global pandemic changes life as you know it. Sometimes it’s nothing memorable, you just sort of… stop trying.
It could be as simple as one-time indiscretion where you had a little of your favorite childhood dessert, or perhaps the wagon has rolled away for days or weeks… or even months.
What do you do when you realize you’ve fallen off the wagon?
It’s simple. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and climb back on.
There are a few common reasons you may have fallen off the wagon:
It’s hard to stay on track when you’re surrounded by naysayers, or if you’re frequently in situations where your willpower is tested. Develop strategies that allow you to deal with these people or situations constructively, or avoid them if you must.
If you change your diet, but everything else about your modern, high-stress life stays the same, you’ll inevitably falter.
Not eating enough, not eating often enough (too much fasting for your body and activity level), and not sleeping enough will result in you feeling tired, lethargic and energy depleted. Your body will respond with hunger and cravings that become impossible to ignore. Motivation to exercise plummets, as does performance. Chronically depriving yourself of the fuel and rest you need is a recipe for disaster.
You’re guilty of all-or-nothing thinking if you make one “bad” choice and then decide, “Forget it, I blew it. Might as well just give up.” The actual health consequences of your choices were probably small to negligible; the resulting guilt and shame spiral are what really hurt you. With all-or-nothing thinking, you create unrealistic standards of perfection, when what you should really strive for are progress and growth.
Not Enjoying Your Lifestyle
Falling is inevitable if you don’t enjoy your food or your workout routine, your choices are causing friction with your partner, or you may be otherwise missing the joy in life. You might choose to suffer through a certain period of restriction to lose weight and making short-term sacrifices in the service of a larger goal is one thing. Trying to commit to a “lifestyle” you find unpleasureable is quite another. There are many roads to health. Find one that works for you.
Getting Back On The Wagon
With regular routines and schedules somewhat back in place, you may have decided to pick yourself up and get back to the Paleo wagon as soon as possible! That wagon is sitting there waiting for you, ready to welcome you back. All you have to do is put jump on it.
Avoid the temptation to make too big of a big deal over minor blips. Diet culture is all about “cheating” and “failing” and “starting over.” A Paleo lifestyle encourages you to make day-to-day choices that support health while understanding that life happens.
Fortunately, we have some great tips on how to deal with the inevitable setback, and how to use those moments when you feel defeated to grow and continue reaching your goals.
Start Over – Immediately
Feeling restricted or feeling like you’re under a time limit to squeeze in all that unhealthy eating gives you an excuse to continue on your wayward path. The best time to “start over” is at the next meal. You don’t have to wait until tomorrow or next week.
If you’re feeling uninspired to do so, head to the store and pick up some of the most colourful produce you can find. Get excited to get in the kitchen by looking up a new recipe. Eating a whole plate of Paleo friendly produce can do wonders to hit the reset button
It is okay to skip a meal or two too, as long as you don’t see it as a punishment for prior indiscretions. Intermittent fasting is widely recognized as a healthy practice, and it’s also a great way to hit the reset button. Sometimes, giving your body a chance to work through all the junk you ate before you eat anything else can be helpful. Wait until you truly feel hunger again before sitting down to another meal is crucial. Be sure that meal is nutrient dense and satisfying. Savour it and enjoy it, to remind yourself of why this way of eating is worth sticking to.
Once you’ve taken that first step, there is more work to be done to avoid immediately veering off course again! This means getting some systems in place to keep you moving in the right direction.
Building Better Habits
Building better habits boils down making it easier and more rewarding to do the things you want to do. At the same time, you are making it harder and less appealing to do the things you prefer you did not do.
This may sound simple but it is not always easy. Start by identifying some foundational things that, will increase your chances of success. These may include:
- Stocking your fridge with Paleo friendly foods, and removing, replacing and donating foods you don’t want to be eating. Get your bacon here>>>>>
- Picking a few basic recipes to get you through the first few days, or starting your week with some basic meal preparation
- Getting your home workout equipment out of the closet and putting it where you can see it
- Buying those new running shoes and leaving them where you see them first thing in the morning
- Moving the TV and the phone and tablet chargers out of your bedroom
Write It Down
Eating processed and refined foods takes its toll and you probably don’t feel very well physically. Abandoning your Paleo wagon may have seemed might seem fun at the time, but it is likely you are experiencing some serious discomfort: digestive issues, lethargy, disrupted sleep, headaches, inflammation, especially if you have dietary sensitivities. This in itself can serve as good motivation for getting back on track. Sadly, however, is way too easy to forget how awful certain foods make you feel once we are feeling better.
- What is your biggest obstacle, and what can you do today to remove that obstacle, or at least make it easier to avoid?
- What are two or three things that you can do today to make it easier to stick to your goal?
Writing it down can help. The simple act of putting it in writing makes it all the more real and vivid. Write down how much better you feel when you stick to the plan too. A great comparison for future reference!
There is no shortage of wonderful cookbooks and blogs creating amazing recipes to satisfy your hunger. Getting into the kitchen and cooking up some of your favourites, or a few new ones that catch your eye, is the best way to get back on plan. The food is beyond delicious and if you remind yourself of that, you may wonder why you ever fell off the wagon in the first place!
Grab your copy of Chef Pete’s Paleo By Season and get inspired today!
Not Big On Cooking? Choose Delivery
Using our Paleo food delivery service can help get you back on track no matter who you are coming from. You can free up some of your time and still eat healthy, seasonal, organic meals, all for less than eating at a restaurant or shopping at your local health food store. Allow Pete's Paleo meal delivery service to plan, shop, cook and deliver fresh paleo meals to your door! Not only does our menu change on a weekly basis with the seasons, but we change that menu based on what our farmers grow & harvest out of the ground that very week we cook it.
Order this week’s menu here >>>>>>
The benefits here are twofold: support and accountability. Promises and commitments made to yourself are often hard to keep as the only place they reside in in your head and it can be easy to pretend you never made them in the first place. When you say it out loud to a friend or a support group, you feel it’s more important to stick to and that much harder to break. Even if you don’t have any in-person friends that support your Paleo lifestyle, there are numerous groups and forums where most of the time, people are incredibly supportive and helpful, with amazing ideas to help you stay the course.
One silver lining to falling off the wagon is that it can always be a learning opportunity. Learning and adapting is what life is all about. This does not mean you will never fall off the wagon again, but hopefully you can avoid repeating the same patterns over and over.
Sometimes it may be obvious what happened. You went on vacation, or got sick and stopped working out, but never returned to your healthy habits. Other times it takes some more digging and soul searching to understand how you got derailed (perhaps again). It is never as simple as a lack of willpower or desire.
In reality, many people fall off the Paleo bandwagon once or twice and they do live to tell about it. What you need to know is that you are a winner as long as you get back on it one time more than the number of times you fell off. Fall off. Get up. Make your VERY next bite, the best, Paleo bite you can possibly make it.