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If you're "on the wagon" is it good???

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Old 09-13-2009, 07:51 AM   #1
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Cool If you're "on the wagon" is it good???

So many of us on 3FC talk about "falling off the wagon" and "getting back on the wagon". (And, yes, being the semi-nerd that I am, I wondered about the origin of the phrase and found it at this link.)

But the concept was originally related to alcohol consumption -- where you were either drinking or not drinking. Cut and dried. On or off (the wagon).

Is this mentality good for weight loss? After all, we do have to eat. And one person might consider themself firmly "on the wagon" perhaps even driving it, while another -- under the exact same circumstances -- might consider themselves in the ditch by the side of the road looking longingly at the "wagon" in the distance. In other words, in the eating and exercise world, what "the wagon" is is very subjective (as opposed to the alcohol world.)

I think the metaphor of falling off or getting on the wagon is not helpful. It lends weight (haha) to the fear of each and every one of us on this weight loss journey that we are either failures or successes and that there is nothing in between. When we don't follow our plan exactly or gain a little weight (i.e., fall off the wagon) we sometimes hide and don't even post on 3FC because we are ashamed.

But maybe I am wrong. What do you think about "the wagon"?
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Old 09-13-2009, 08:30 AM   #2
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I don't use that term. I'm not either on the wagon or off the wagon. I eat very, very healthy. MOST of the times. When I eat something off plan or over indulge, I haven't fallen off of anything, because I'm not ON anything, so how could I fall off of something I'm not on. It's kinda like saying, I'm on my diet/I'm off my diet.

This IS a lifestyle change. Make no doubt about it. In order to be successful, IMO this has to be a lifetime commitment and it IS about changing ones eating habits and behaviors - permanently. I DO think ditching that term could be useful. If you've strayed and you have to get back ON, well that's hard. But if you've strayed and you've never fallen off, well then it's much easier to get back on - because you're STILL on. Nothing to get back onto. I also think losing that term would help people keep an "off" moment to a singular occurrence as opposed to a "aw shucks, I've blown the whole day" mentality.

I'm not getting my opinion out here very well. Where's Glory??? She'd do a bang up job....
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Old 09-13-2009, 09:02 AM   #3
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I agree with Robin. I'm not on a diet, so there's no way to fall "off" on the diet. I can't fall off of life, and eating well is part of my life.
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Old 09-13-2009, 09:24 AM   #4
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I agree 100% with Robin!

Although you maybe overthinking the term a bit....if it bothers you then don't use it
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Old 09-13-2009, 09:53 AM   #5
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Although you maybe overthinking the term a bit....if it bothers you then don't use it
You're right of course. And I don't use the term at all. I just have been thinking and reading a lot about weight loss and what makes people successful ... because I REALLY want to be successful.

So that's why I think about this stuff -- like the words we use in describing weight loss. It seems we view ourselves as either "good or bad", but it's really just life, isn't it? It's choices on a continuum, not falling off and getting on all the time.


This is the first time in my many times at trying weight loss where I'm really thinking about this as a journey, really studying everything and trying to figure out what works, what doesn't FOR ME. It's the first time where I am really understanding that it's a life-change and not a "diet". I don't think other people have the answer, I think I need to pull it out of MYSELF.

For years, I didn't try to lose weight at all. It was just so hurtful to me to try and fail and try and fail that I decided it wasn't healthy and I just was not going to try anymore. Even when I started my exercise program at the gym starting March 10, 2009 -- in my mind it was NOT a weight loss program but a "getting healthier and more fit" program. Confronting the weight loss was such a bitter thing for me -- still is, I guess.

I sometimes feel like I am "this close" to stopping. I don't even know why, because I've been doing well and my clothes are fitting better and I feel better. I just get sad, I guess. This whole "on the wagon, off the wagon" mentality does not help me because very small plan deviations make me feel like I am failing over and over again. So I am trying to re-frame the words and thoughts on this journey so I will continue to lose weight and keep it off.
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Old 09-13-2009, 10:02 AM   #6
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Jami Bernard, in the book The Incredible Shrinking Critic, talks about percentages. You're never on or off, you are some percentage on your program. A lot of days, I'm 98%-100% on my program. But if I go out to a family picnic or take a trip, maybe I have a 70%-80% day. That's still a lot of "on!" -- enough that I still have some motivation to keep the percentage as high as possible.

Thanks for the link to the origin of the phrase "on the wagon". That's a great story!
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Old 09-13-2009, 10:11 AM   #7
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Jami Bernard, in the book The Incredible Shrinking Critic, talks about percentages. You're never on or off, you are some percentage on your program. A lot of days, I'm 98%-100% on my program. But if I go out to a family picnic or take a trip, maybe I have a 70%-80% day. That's still a lot of "on!" -- enough that I still have some motivation to keep the percentage as high as possible.
That's a super way to think about it -- percentages! Thanks for that!
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Old 09-13-2009, 10:41 AM   #8
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It's really hard for me to describe the way I view this time as oppossed to the other weight loss attempts. I've never used the band wagon term. Like I said earlier don't overthink, just do what you are doing. You have to think outside of the box and get away from the way majority of society thinks is the norm with weight loss.
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:03 AM   #9
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I know this is not going to come out right. But I'm gonna give it a shot.

That not on a diet mentality is a wonderful thing for me. It made me own up to the fact that I was in this "forever" and that I had to create a NEW NORMAL. There would be no going back to my old ways. That a side step was just a side step. NOT THE END OF THE JOURNEY.

But, and here's the part that's hard to get out without offending anyone. I hope that people don't take THAT mentality - and use it as "permission" to eat off plan. Yes, of course DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF up for a slip. Right back to healthy eating pronto. This will make ALL the difference in the world. Not much harm done. One misstep won't make that much of a difference, but here's the thing - 2 most likely will. It WILL stall that weight loss. And if someone is OKAY with that, well then that's fine... But on the other hand if you are looking to get to that healthy weight, be that fit trim "all that you can be" person, you will have to minimize those slip ups, even if they are indeed "part of the journey". So, I just want to caution against that type thinking as well.

Didn't come out right. Why am I hitting the send reply button???
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:28 AM   #10
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But, and here's the part that's hard to get out without offending anyone. I hope that people don't take THAT mentality - and use it as "permission" to eat off plan. Yes, of course DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF up for a slip. Right back to healthy eating pronto. This will make ALL the difference in the world. Not much harm done. One misstep won't make that much of a difference, but here's the thing - 2 most likely will. It WILL stall that weight loss. And if someone is OKAY with that, well then that's fine... But on the other hand if you are looking to get to that healthy weight, be that fit trim "all that you can be" person, you will have to minimize those slip ups, even if they are indeed "part of the journey". So, I just want to caution against that type thinking as well.

Didn't come out right. Why am I hitting the send reply button???
Robin -- You are exactly right. There is nothing offensive in your post, which is why you're hitting that "send reply" button. Honestly, I am not good with all the people who commiserate with someone who is whining about "falling off the wagon".

On the other hand, there are people who are clearly in pain and need some propping up, which I am all for. It's a conundrum, really.

You are my "tough love" person who tells the truth. You are one of the few posters who don't cut people slack for wandering off plan. I love your "just do it" mentality, mentally framing weight loss and maintenance as a "new life" and an adventure. I'm so glad you're here. CJ
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:29 AM   #11
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Like Robin, I don't really know how to describe this, but I'm going to take a stab at it. Rather than an "all or nothing" approach--much like percentages, I like to think of it as taking the very best care of myself, both physically and emotionally. I try to eat well because I feel better physically. I exercise because I feel great afterwards and it is good for my emotional health. I try to get plenty of sleep because I feel better. Regarding food, when faced with food choices, I try to determine how I will feel 2 hours after I eat. How will this choice or that choice make me feel or what sounds really good or what will "really satisfy" me. Robin, I love your term a NEW NORMAL. This transformation did not happen overnight--it has been a real journey. But I have created for myself and NEW NORMAL, a new way of life. Do I make the "right" choices all of the time? No. But I do try to make "good" choices the majority of the time. This is not a diet, there is no end to the journey. I am living my life the way I want to live it for the rest of my life.

I don't think I was able to say it any better...
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:34 AM   #12
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This sort of fits in with what I've been thinking when I see people here setting weight goals based on specific dates. To me that seems self defeating. For ME if I set a goal based on a date it will be for a behaviour that is under my control, not a number that may or may not appear on the scale when I want to see it.
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:46 AM   #13
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This sort of fits in with what I've been thinking when I see people here setting weight goals based on specific dates. To me that seems self defeating. For ME if I set a goal based on a date it will be for a behaviour that is under my control, not a number that may or may not appear on the scale when I want to see it.
The above is an interesting thought because I do both ... I have a specific plan, and if I perform the actions that are in my plan -- exercise, eating, etc. -- then I am pleased. However, I do also have weight goals because I've read a lot about goal setting with time tables and how this seeps into your subconscious and becomes reality. I read my specific goals every day for this reason.

You're right, though. If the weight goals don't come in the time frame I've set, I don't get at all upset about that. I just try to think whether my "action" goals (the important ones) need to be modified to meet my weight goals. If not, I just re-set the weight goals based on reality.

It's funny how different people get obsessed by different things. I am not at all obsessed by the TIME it takes to reach a goal (well, maybe a little). I am very obsessed with the ACTIONS that are on my plan, and it is currently how I determine whether (or not) I am being successful.

Thanks for the thoughtful discourse.
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:48 AM   #14
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Robin is absolutely SPOT on one more time. RR, your modesty and accuracy frighten me. Thank you for the post.
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:48 AM   #15
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I like my waggon, and I do comment when I fall off it. I don't like the word whine - but this whole process is so subjective (obviously); for the first few months, when I was just on fire, when I read other people struggling, my inner thoughts would often be, Jeez Louise, just get on with it, though I never said that to anyone; while I'm here, genuinely, genuinely trying to get back on track but not quite understanding why the best I can get is nearly, then I guess it sounds like whining.

In terms of falling off the waggon, I suppose it depends on what anyone defines what a fall off is. Is it eating a Chinese takeaway one night, and compensating by eating a bit lower the next day? Nope. I define it as when I just don't care any more, and eat without thinking, without planning, without caring, for several days. I'm guessing I'm not the only one that happens to. Or maybe I am. No, I doubt that.
Although I can drift off plan very easily, I cannot drift ON, I have to give myself a firm boundary, which I define as being back on the waggon.
I keep trying conscious eating and life long learning but my life-long struggle has to remain a struggle for me, because once I get too comfortable, I forget to do it.

As with all aspects of this journey we're all on, the final statement is: 'What works for you'.

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