The Pause Button & Falling Off The Wagon

August 20, 20200

Those familiar with John Berardi and/or Precision Nutrition may be aware of the “pause button” mentality to health and fitness. To summarize, it is the misconception that wellness can be put on hold when life or a plan become difficult. This is not to say that your approach may not need to be modified from time to time, but rather to not step into the pitfall of believing you can continuously make health secondary to the ever-changing circumstances of life without negative consequences.

Failure, difficulty and discomfort are inevitable in life. Our response to these things ultimately determines whether we succeed or fail.

Personally, I have always welcomed new challenges and frequently push my boundaries and comfort level on my ability to execute feats of physical ability. With that approach, failure is common and my plan often need modified to continue progressing. I refuse to hit the “pause button” or quit, even when things like this happen:


OK, so that was a great example of falling off the ladder, but what about when we fall off the wagon? How should you respond?


The danger in that phrase is that it can encourage an all or nothing mentality: “I fell off so what’s the point? Might as well not bother.”

Instead of “falling off”, re-frame it as “I encountered some difficulty and will adjust my approach moving forward”. Falling off feels conclusive; like that’s it, you messed up and all is lost. Acknowledging failure, and needing to take action, implies you’re still working on your goals and there is still hope.

The required action is something you need to identify or discuss with your coach (if you have one). What caused you to lose focus, or what led to not meeting the mark? Often there is a primary cause and once identified a plan can be put in place to address it and reduce future occurrence.

The simple 3 step approach is:

1. Acknowledge failure
2. Ask yourself what the cause was and how you can avoid it happening again
3. ASAP… Get back on track as soon as possible with your plan or revised plan

Note that this take more than lip service… Saying you will get back on track and doing so are two different things. One is a desire, the other is an action. Moreover, if you are constantly trying to “get back on track” …you never actually did so in the first place. Your end result is a direct reflection of what you consistently do. So, if you’re stuck in the loop of “getting back on track”, then it’s time to put some action (effort) forth to get there.

Keep in mind that change will require diverting from your normal day to day practice. Therefore, you will need to expect some discomfort and failures to occur along the way. Luckily for you, most of these are less painful than my failed execution on the ladder jump.

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