Off the Wagon

When you find yourself suddenly sitting in the dust, a bit dazed, a bit dirty, your confidence shaken and your pride a tad bruised, it can be disheartening. Is it your first trip off the wagon? Your umpteenth? As we enter the second half of our August Primal Challenge, this scenario might sound a little familiar to some of you out there. Anyone happen to be dusting off their britches right now?

Whether you took your tumble this weekend or the second day of the Challenge, the experience of falling off the wagon can be frustrating, humbling, and downright dispiriting. You had high hopes. You put time and sweat and maybe money into the endeavor. Perhaps you told people and felt embarrassed about admitting the setback. Particularly if you’ve found yourself in this position before (with the Primal approach or another diet or fitness program), the stumble can incite feelings of personal failure or precipitate a wave of excuses (“I gave it my best shot. It’s just not doable.”). But hold on there for a moment. We say the story hasn’t been written yet. The proverbial fat lady hasn’t sung. Before you abandon the whole endeavor, take a look at the big picture.

Like an athlete, review your performance during this first half of the month. First and most important question: what’s gone well? Don’t put it in the self-deprecating terms of what was easy. See it for what it was – your exertion, your will, your creative and meaningful action. What changes did you make – in your daily practices and overall outlook? Count them as successes. How are you and your life different today because you took up the Challenge? How did you feel in the course of a day? What did you notice in the spread of two weeks? Discouragement be damned because of this point, my friends: You are not where you started two weeks ago.

Believe it or not, you’ve moved yourself to a new place. The efforts you took – mental and physical have left their imprints. Each life experience, as we all know, changes us. Each choice we make opens up new possibilities, yes, but we’re not just talking about hypothetical potential. The change is already manifest. Along the way, you see, you’ve laid down the tracks. They’re still there. And let me tell you what else is there: the physical benefits of even a brief endeavor. Your blood vessel walls are that much less strained. Your adrenal system that much less stressed. Your pancreas, liver and other organs that much less taxed. You’ve given your body a breather, the chance to function more naturally, more efficiently, more optimally.

If you truly put yourself out there and made a sincere commitment, you should feel pride in that. The risk is itself an accomplishment. That said, genuine commitment doesn’t falter at the sign of struggle. Be honest about what went awry – and why you think it happened. What could you have done differently? But then remember why you took up the Challenge, the cause at the heart of your efforts (for yourself, your health, your well-being, your kids). Put your faith back in your own commitment, bolster your sense of mission and decide what your next step will be. Yes, there’s a next step. The path is still there. Make the choice to direct yourself toward it. No, hopping back on in the middle maybe doesn’t seem as dramatic and exciting as the starting line, but it’s generally easier and more openly promising. You’ve felt the benefits of your Primal endeavors. You know you’ll be going back to those same gains – and more as additional efforts allow for deeper physiological homeostasis, more physical strength and vitality, more emotional balance and energy.

What will your next step be? We’ll be waiting to hear from you…. Comment, throw a question out there, post an update, give a suggestion for a post if you’re so inclined. You’re as much a part of the Challenge crowd as anyone else, and don’t forget it! (We won’t.) And as you get back in the saddle again, be sure to check out these (hopefully!) helpful posts:

Baby Steps

Common Stumbling Blocks

How to Break Bad Habits

How to Develop Good Habits

How to Make the Primal Transition in 6 Easy Steps

Sensible Vices Round 1, Round 2

The 80/20 Principle, Revisited

Finally, by all means use the support of the MDA community. Onward and upward, folks!  Have a great week!

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