Is it Beneficial to Fall Off the Fitness Wagon?

Devin Arrigo

Photo by John Arano on Unsplash

2020 has been a strange year.

A global pandemic has most of the world in a panic. It’s become commonplace to wear a mask into a bank. Most of us are working from home. Protests and riots are happening throughout the world. And the world economy is struggling to regain its strength.

Needless to say, times are tough. If any of the above situations got the best of you, please know that it’s okay.

Everyone struggles. Everyone gets sidetracked and loses their way for a bit. It’s natural, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

The key is to realize that you’ve fallen off the wagon, take advantage of the new perspective, and then start getting back on.

How I Fell Off the Wagon

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece while waiting at the airport to go see my dying grandmother before she passed away. I was in the midst of training for an IRONMAN 70.3 and wanted to make sure I could continue to train while I was home for a couple of weeks.

I was in the best shape of my life and wanted to keep it that way. I prioritized, planned, and prepared to ensure I’d be able to swim, bike, and run as normal. While not my #1 priority, my goal was to minimize the amount of training interruption while I was home.

Nonetheless, life happened, and all of my plans went to shit. I’ve missed numerous swim and bike sessions. I’ve overeaten and eaten like crap. I’ve gotten drunk, haven’t slept enough, and haven’t been making the progress need to be competitive in the race come September.

While not ideal, I’ve learned a few things from the experience of falling off the fitness wagon…

What It All Means

1. It’s Completely Understandable

Firstly, understand that it’s completely fine if you fall off the wagon. It happens to everyone. Life is tough and sometimes it just gets the best of you.

The power is in realizing that you’ve fallen off and then attempting to get back to it. Don’t waste time pouting or beating yourself up because you fell off. Instead, use all your energy to start making strides back in the right direction.

2. Take Advantage of the New Perspective

When I’m in the midst of my ‘great shape’, I’m still constantly pointing out my flaws or areas of improvement.

Your abs are trash. You ate terribly today. You aren’t fit at all.

By falling off the wagon, I gained the perspective to see just how great I was doing before. Compared to my past 3–4 weeks, I was doing incredible.

I was training 10–15 hours a week, eating like a world-class athlete, sleeping 9 hours a day, and not drinking at all. I was in really good shape.

But when I was in that ‘great shape’, I couldn’t see just how great I was doing.

3. Identify What Was Working

The beauty of falling off the wagon is that it provides an immense sense of clarity into what you were doing well.

Hindsight is 20/20.

Use the new perspective to identify what was working well before. What did you enjoy? Was it hard to run in the mornings? Was eating out difficult for you to follow your nutritional guidelines?

Take the time to analyze what was working and what wasn’t. And be sure to take the time to try to identify the reasons why you fell off the wagon in the first place. Then, equipped with new insights, start taking steps to get back on the wagon.

Don’t panic if you fall off the wagon. It happens, but beating yourself up won’t help. Use the perspective to identify what was working before and then start getting back onto the saddle.
Start with a single step, no matter how small.

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Marathon runner | Triathlete | Personal growth addict | Writing about creative ways to become a better human being.

Los Angeles, CA

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