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Falling Off the Wagon

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Old 12-09-2011, 05:32 AM   #1
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"I fell off the wagon"

I know this is a normal, everyday saying, but I don't really like it. I actually feel it is more defeating than productive.

It implies that one has made a big mistake or sinned and must receive atonement for their sins or forgiveness for their mistakes. I suppose I feel "falling off the wagon" sounds similar to being excommunicated from a religion or such and working to get back in.

Eating and exercise has absolutely nothing to do with sin - it is what we try to do better to enhance the quality of our life.

Sometimes other events in life do take precedence over the focus on healthy eating and exercise - yes, it will happen to everyone of us at some point in time. But, then, those events will eventually return to the background, allowing us to focus more on health.

We cannot always control what is in the foreground and backrground of our lives. Our will isn't that free. There are other things outside of us that determine our course, whether we like them or not. At the end of the day, we simply must hope we have the knowledge and habit to back us up when we must turn our attention to something else.

So, "falling off the wagon" in terms of diet and exercise implies that one is punishing herself for doing wrong. I simply wish there was a more positive way to address the issue, like "Hey guys, I'm ready to continue my journey to being healthy".

"Falling off the wagon" also carries the connotation that what you must do to get back on the wagon will be extremely difficult - I mean, when I hear this expression, I picture the Old West and a wagon moving at full speed, running along the wagon to try and jump back on... the dirt it kicks up in your face makes it hard for you to see...

I don't think this metaphor is helpful to anyone. I wish we could ex-communicate it from 3fc.
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Old 12-09-2011, 06:05 AM   #2
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I agree that proactively trying to maintain good eating and exercise, and encountering pitfalls along the way, is not sinful. But if you're looking at things from a Biblical standpoint, I suppose the only "connection" between eating and sin, would be self-indulgence or gluttony. But those are terms that don't describe anyone here, as we're all aiming to improve on ourselves.

Hrmm. But yes. There's definitely a better way of wording it.
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Old 12-09-2011, 07:10 AM   #3
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That's interesting how you perceive this phrase. I have a totally different perspective!

I see it as simply stating a slip-up. I don't really see atonement and punishment and sin enter in at all. It's not "I totally failed, and I am so sorry!" or "I deserve to be punished for this."... but rather a simple "Whoops, I let things slip!"

I actually like the metaphor because there are no barriers to getting back on the wagon. It's up to the individual to determine whether or not he/she is not where he/she wants to be. She can declare at any time that she's hopping back on and that's all it takes
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Old 12-09-2011, 07:12 AM   #4
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I prefer saying "I hit a speed bump."

We all make mistakes, so having an off day or a bad meal is going to happen to everyone eventually. I think by saying "I hit a speed bump" you're acknowledging that you slowed, and maybe halted your journey temporarily but you can just keep going.

When I've stalled at a certain weight....speed bump! But I just hit the gas and keep going!
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:43 AM   #5
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Pudgebrownie: I'm not trying to take a biblical standpoint - I'm saying that when a person falls off the wagon, they generally feel the need to confess their wrongs so that they can then hope to get back on the wagon. There is definitely a feeling of guilt that accompanies the phase in one's life where they lost focus of their diet and exercise plan. I don't think feeling guilty is helpful.

indiblue: maybe the wagon in your head is moving much slower and the driver is much nicer than the mean cowboy driving the wagon in my head? My wagon is in the Wild West, with tumbleweed and Indians are chasing it. Your wagon sounds like it is on its merry way through Amish country, driven by a gentle man with a beard and homemade cheese in the back.

sontaikle: I really agree with the speed bump metaphor - actually. Often times speed bumps come out of nowhere and surprise us.

The wagon metaphor implies that we simply stopped holding on or failed in some way. Whereas the speed bump is more neutral - things didn't go as we planned, but now things are smoother.

Last edited by Unna : 12-09-2011 at 08:45 AM.
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Old 12-09-2011, 09:04 AM   #6
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Haha-I was just thinking about the origins of this phrase when I was on here the other day and someone used it. It is actually kind of bizarre. Back in the Elizabethan era in England, when they were going to execute someone, they would put him on a wagon and take him (and usually a lot of other criminals so they would have them all stand up to make more room) to the execution site. The public would be mobbing the road on the last part of the way there, and one of the people would do is offer the condemned "one last drink." Well, a lot of people had the same idea and so sometimes the condemned ended up getting plastered- so plastered he would "Fall off the wagon."

So, there ya go. It's kind of a nasty little historical hold over.
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Old 12-09-2011, 09:18 AM   #7
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Ironically I almost didn't read this post. I am also trying to banish the negative connotation and "sin" from being "off-diet, off-exercise" or whatever else health related guilt I feel like laying on myself right now. Because I seem very low right now I am actually being careful of other posts in which people feel they are failing.

If I were to strike words from this forum it would also include anything about hating one's self or feeling ugly or like a failure, etc. The list goes on and on. Although I also know that this is part of an "anonymous forum - most of us have no where else to dump some of our miserable feelings.

I probably don't use fall off the wagon because truthfully I don't have a very structured wagon to begin with so who knows when I am off of it! But I definitely have those days in which I beat myself up WAY too much when really I should just let it go, forgive, and enjoy my next healthy choice after the fact.

Good thoughts.
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Old 12-09-2011, 09:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unna View Post
Eating and exercise has absolutely nothing to do with sin - it is what we try to do better to enhance the quality of our life.
I was responding to this. I think you misinterpreted what I posted, as I was agreeing with you. It is what we choose to "do" that makes the difference. I understand you're not coming from a Biblibal standpoint. But I think most would agree that self-indulgence/gluttony is never something positive, and too often causes guilt and shame. I believe that is why it's considered one of the seven deadly sins, with death ultimately being the worst case scenario.


I'm liking the speed bump phrase much better too. It implies that you never STOPPED. Just slowed down. Much more forgiving than the sounding of "falling off the wagon".
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Old 12-09-2011, 11:17 AM   #9
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DezziePS: awesome! Thank you so much for posting that! I have never heard that. Now I completely understand how this expression became associated with alcoholism.

HikingChloe: The reason I wrote this post in the first place is because, as I was scanning 3FC today, I was reading an incredible amount of people typing that and each time it came up it was as if they were confessing their sins, which, in our current times, thanks Dr. Phil, translates into "taking accountability" for "falling off the wagon", or something like that.

I know this is the place where people go to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly and I'm not implying we should stop, but the use of this metaphor wasn't helpful, in fact, it was almost like "getting back on the wagon" was this terribly difficult feat that they didn't think they were capable of. Again, the image of wagon being unreachable, going incredibly fast.

The language we use often has more power over our thoughts than we would like to think. It may reflect our thoughts, but it also may control them.

Pudgebrownie: I did misunderstand. However, after reading your post again, I do think exploring the connection between the historical Christian views and the modern-day feeling of guilt we have for binging would be quite interesting.

Simply because one is personally not "religious" doesn't mean he/she hasn't inherited portions of the ideology.

I mean, you could even argue that being skinny and fit in our culture is akin to being ascetic. Asceticism has been highly valued since the dawn of Christianity. Actually, earlier, since Antiquity. Overeating has also been shunned since that time as well.

I'm actually thinking to find the roots, it would be interesting to read what Evolutionary Biology/Evolutionary Psychology has written on the topic.

I won't go into detail. But super-interesting topic.
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