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Nov 12, 2016 BY Kate McDonald Walker

Falling off the Wellness Wagon

—  found in  Well-being  —

Yikes, It’s the middle of November! When did that happen? Soon it’ll be time to start thinking about … New Year’s Resolutions.

For many of us, this is the time of year when we take stock of the past year and think about what we want to accomplish next year, and for many of us, wellness goals are right up there near the top of things we want to focus on in 2017.

But then, most of us wanted to focus on wellness in 2016. How’d we do there? I bet many of you rocked it, but I’ll also bet that many of you, like me, might have started off strong and determined and then, over the course of the months, those wellness goals kind of slid by the wayside. It happens to everyone! The trouble is that, as with any other habit, once you get out of a particular wellness-promoting routine, it can be hard to find your way back.

I work in the wellness industry, and I fall off this particular wagon all the time. Sometimes it’s in little ways, like, I say I’m ditching refined sugar, because I know how bad it is for you, but then I just can’t resist the siren song call of whatever fall-flavoured liquid candy concoction Starbucks has whipped up this month. (Speaking of “whipped,” I rarely say no to whipped cream. The baristas always phrase the question like I've already made the decision anyways.)

And sometimes it’s in bigger ways. I’ve spoken on the blog before about my struggles with anxiety and depression, and I can say with some authority, that depressed and anxious people are often pretty terrible at taking proper care of themselves. So even though I’m usually an avid runner and yogi, there have been times where I’ve gone six months without a single workout.

Whether it’s big things a bunch of little things, it can be the beginning of a slippery slope. Sometimes the slide down that slope is intentional (e.g., “well, I’ve already eaten that thing that makes my gut super upset, so I guess I might as well eat all the junk!) and sometimes it’s accidental (e.g., you got so busy that you actually have to look in your calendar to figure out the last time you exercised).

And slope really is the best word here, because – as I’m sure many of you have experienced for yourselves – it’s waaaaay easier to slide down out of wellness habits than it is to climb back up to them.

But don’t give up! I’ve fallen off the wellness wagon – and gotten back on – that I feel like I’m a bit of an expert at it, and I’ve got some tips to help you climb back on, too! ;)

Indulgence is NOT failure

Sure, I used the example of my mocha-frappa-licious beverage break as a way to show the little ways I fall off the wellness wagon, but that’s only when I’m doing it mindlessly! If you make a choice to tell yourself “hey, I [insert whatever the heck reason you want] today, I deserve to treat myself to [whatever indulgence floats your boat]” that is not being bad at your wellness goals, that is a conscious choice to reward yourself with something you enjoy, and that’s part of cultivating wellness too!

Don’t beat yourself up

So your not-so-healthy choice wasn’t all that mindful? That happens too, and that’s okay. Let’s all accept that working toward our wellness goals isn’t always pure progress. Setbacks, both small and large, will happen. When it happens to you, acknowledge it, let it go and focus on the healthy choices you're going to make going forward. It’ll make it easier to get back to your goals if you’re not consumed by the setbacks.

Every little step back in the right direction counts

The road back up the wellness slope doesn’t start with grand, sweeping statements like “I will never eat another piece of conventionally farmed produce again” or “I will only use beauty products I make myself out of food-grade materials from now own!” For most of us, all-or-nothing statements like that just aren't sustaianable long-term. Instead, the road usually starts with small choices like reading the labels on your favourite comfort foods and making an informed decision on whether it’s the right thing to put in your body today (see “Indulgence is NOT failure,” above), or deciding to take the stairs rather than the elevator. Maybe we should stop calling them wellness goals, and start calling it a wellness journey, since every little step on the road to wellness is just as important as the destination at the end!

Celebrate successes

Share the milestones you reach with friends and family who will cheer you on. Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back even for the small healthy choices you make, and don’t be afraid to treat yourself when you reach milestones. Consider those treats a little extra incentive to keep up with all your hard work!

I hope this helps you feel a little less alone when those little bumps on the road to wellness happen!

Share your stories of wellness journey successes and setbacks with us in the comments below!

Nov 12, 2016 BY Kate McDonald Walker
6 Comments
Hope   •   November 13, 2016

Thank you for this post! I've recently fallen off the wagon and am hopping back on. Thank you for the encouragement!

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Kate McDonald Walker   •   November 14, 2016

Tara   •   November 15, 2016

Great article Kate! I've been feeling a bit all or nothing these days in terms of my "wellness" goals (man, I love that term :) ). But your tips have put it in perspective and I am feeling much more encouraged! Thanks so much.

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Terrie   •   November 16, 2016

I have been beati g myself up. I shouldn't, I wont! Thanks for the pep talk.

Reply
Heather Allen   •   November 17, 2016

Mindful Trav   •   November 18, 2016

Really like this article. It's true that it's very hard to stay consistent ALL the time with our wellness "goals" - and the word "journey" is definitely more appropriate. I have found that through my wellness journey, whenever I fall off the wagon and get back on, my progress is more noticeable each time each time I'm falling off (my "falling off" becomes much more Mindful than my last one). For instance, me falling off the wagon could have been eating McDonald's for a period of time before I decided to go gluten & dairy free. Then when I fell off that wagon for a bit, I went Primal (Mark Sisson - similar to Paleo) and my falling off that wagon has been indulging in Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Not as bad as a whole meal at McDonald's. I can't even fathom how my body would feel after a McDonald's meal, because after I cheat with something like yogurt, it hits my cognitive clarity very significantly and I become very foggy. Anyways, cool article and thanks for writing & sharing! I will be sharing this on my work's Facebook page (Mindful Snacks)! :)

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