In this episode of the Feel Good Effect Podcast, we talk about how to avoid the number one mistake that I see people making when it comes to this idea of “falling off the wagon”.

Stop Feeling Like You’ve Fallen Off the Wagon: How to Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes

Falling off the wagon

Falling off the wagon: when one has gotten away from the habits, routines, and mindset that help them feel really good.

Have you ever found yourself thinking that you’ve fallen off the wagon?

I hear it and see it all the time, especially right now as we are in quarantine or coming out of quarantine.

It’s often specific to habits around one or more of the 3 M’s: moving your body (movement), nourishing your body with food and hydration (meals), and taking care of your mental well being (mind).

Note: falling off of the wagon in relation to sobriety and alcohol is a very separate issue. In this case, we are talking about something that is specific to wellness.

A cognitive + neurological perspective

When you say that you have fallen off the wagon, what’s really happening in your brain is all or nothing thinking, which is actually a very normal part of cognition.

The way our brains are wired, we often want to see black and white.

While it made sense for our ancestors to see things this way, nowadays it causes significant challenges and issues.

This is what psychologists call dichotomous thinking or false dilemma. 

It’s not your fault and you’re not a failure if your brain goes to all or nothing thinking.

It’s a natural, normal process that is made more extreme in western society through marketing and wellness messages.

When you feel like you’ve fallen off the wagon, what’s happening is black and white thinking, “this or that”, “all in or all out”.

Solutions to the top three mistakes when it comes to all or nothing thinking

We’ll talk about the three biggest mistakes people make when it comes to all or nothing thinking and tactical, science-backed ways to get yourself onto a path of feel-good, sustainable wellness.

But first, this show is brought to you by my new book, The Feel Good Effect, which is all about how to reclaim your wellness by making small shifts that lead to huge change.

1 | Thinking that there are only two choices.

Whether you actually say the words, “falling off the wagon”, or you just have a hard time starting and stopping things, think about if you’ve felt as if you can either do it or you can’t.

Most of the time, there are more than two options.

When we only focus on two extreme options, it causes us to miss out on all of the beautiful options in-between.

Find what helps you maintain and sustain.

Tactical solution: Focus on the options in-between.

You may need to write it down until it becomes the way that you think.

Practice flexible thinking, which allows you to see more than one option, and has been shown in the research to have so many positive effects.

Using weight as an example: people who have a flexible thinking style are generally less likely to gain weight and more likely to maintain a “healthy body weight”, by avoiding the extreme dieting and maintaining a middle ground.

Are there more than two options? Is something in the middle more doable for you right now?

If you’re interested in finding this middle ground with food, check out Taesha at the Natural Nurturer (who has been on the FGE). 

Her approach is to just add veggies– even if you’re having a piece of pizza, just add some veggies to your plate.

Quote on finding what sustains you by Robyn Conley Downs on the Feel Good Effect Podcast #realfoodwholelife #feelgoodeffectpodcast #motivationalquote #inspirationalquote #positivityquote #wordstoliveby #productivityquote #selflovequote #selfcarequote #selfcompassionquote #nourishmentquote

Quote on not limiting ourselves by Robyn Conley Downs on the Feel Good Effect Podcast #realfoodwholelife #feelgoodeffectpodcast #motivationalquote #inspirationalquote #positivityquote #limitlessquote #growthquote #selfcompassionquote
2 | Getting stuck on how much time needs to be committed.

This often comes up around how many minutes it must take for a workout “to count”.

Many people live under this false idea that you have to work out for 60-minutes every day of the week for it to count, or that you have to be in work out clothes or even sweating.

It also comes up around productivity, that if you don’t sit down at your desk and write for a solid four hours, 10-minutes doesn’t count. 

Maybe it comes up around meal prepping, feeling like if meal prepping doesn’t take hours that it doesn’t count.

But maybe you can boil some eggs while you’re making tea or coffee, prep some overnight oats for breakfast, or make some extra soup or stew to freeze in mason jars for lunch.

You don’t have to spend an hour of time to make beautiful meals, but you can still prep food ahead of time to make meals easier.

Tactical tip: Lessen the amount of time.

A 10-minute Pilates class or a 5-minute walk can be what you need to continue to be consistent and sustained.

If you’re feeling resistance to working out, just make it less time.

Five minutes is more than zero minutes.

3 | How you are defining or framing success.

If you’re framing success in a certain area as something that you’re doing all the time, you’re setting yourself up to feel like you’re failing.

“You get to decide what success looks like for you, isn’t that beautiful, amazing, and empowering?”

Tactical solution: Two out of three is actual success.

When you do something two out of three times, you’re building momentum, sustainability, and consistency, even though it’s not as attractive initially.

The two out of three rule is so simple: if you’re having trouble getting back into the groove, try doing it two out of three times.

Let’s say you have a weekend and you weren’t eating in a way that made you feel good, the next day try to make two out of three meals nourishing. 

The two out of three rule allows for the inherent ups and downs of life and can be applied to meals, movement, and mind.

As life happens, we have to constantly redefine, what does wellness look like for me right now?

Every day is a new day, and every choice is a new choice.

Quote on each day as a new day by Robyn Conley Downs on the Feel Good Effect Podcast #realfoodwholelife #feelgoodeffectpodcast #motivationalquote #inspirationalquote #positivityquote #wordstoliveby #passionquote #purposequote #opportunityquote #growthquote

Make it happen:

Choose one of these three tactical solutions and put it into practice in your real life.

“Mindset matters when it comes to wellness. You can focus on habits and routines, but without mindset, it won’t work long term”.


The Essential Wellness Routines You Need Right Now

  • More on the 3 M’s
  • More on two out of three

The Natural Nurturer

Taesha Butler on The Key to Feeding Your Family Healthy Food (Even if They’re Picky and You’re Exhausted)

How to Write and Publish a Book: Three Surprising Lessons Learned During the Book Writing Process

How to Radically Simplify Meal Prep

How to Freeze Anything in a Mason Jar

Use discount code “robyn20” for $20 off Balanced Life Sisterhood Membership.

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