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The Wagon Myth

Recreation Fitness back on track


I hear it time and again – clients lamenting that they’ve “fallen off the wagon” and “need to get back on track.” What if I told you that there is in fact no wagon, no track to get back on?

The problem with The Wagon Myth is that caring for our physical and mental health really can’t be just a cyclical thing – that we’ll eat well as long as there’s a plausible chance we’ll have to wear a bathing suit in the near future, but as soon as sweater season arrives, our bodies don’t need vegetables or exercise anymore. When we view our health with an all-or-nothing approach (I’m either really GOOD, or really BAD), it’s too easy to have one indulgent meal turn into three months of ignoring our bodies’ basic needs.

Consider how you’d care for a pet, or a child. You wouldn’t starve them today because you fed them well yesterday, or give them junk food for dinner. You wouldn’t deny your dog a walk because you took him out for exercise three days ago. Why should we treat ourselves any different?

I propose a new approach, one that focuses solely on the present. Our bodies do not care what we did yesterday, nor what we have planned for tomorrow – they care about what we are giving them, or doing for them, TODAY. Am I eating foods that will fuel me well for the next few hours of activity? Did I move today, not just to burn calories, but to help my brain and body systems work at their best capacity? Have I gotten enough sleep? Am I well-hydrated?

When we ditch The Wagon Myth and focus on the present, we start each day with a clean slate, a new opportunity to make choices that will benefit our physical and mental well-being. We abandon old habits easier by welcoming new ones to replace them. And we REACH our goals, not because we’re “on the wagon”, but because we’re staying present in our daily lives.