There’s a familiar saying that goes something like this: “It’s not how many times you fall that counts, but how many times you get back up again”. “Get back on the wagon” they say….but….

How many times have you fallen off the proverbial wagon? How many times have you climbed back on it again? You know which wagon I’m referring to, right? The “I’ll wait till Monday” exercise/diet wagon.

What about a new saying? “If you keep falling off the wagon, it’s time to ditch the wagon”.

No pain, no gain?

Our exercise and eating habits have become a wagon to many of us (and from which many of us fall off regularly).More discipline! Try harder! Use this miracle plan! No pain, no gain! Just do it! Every time we fall off, we pick ourselves up, take a deep breath (or twenty) and get back on again, only to repeat the same routine again later down the line.

Stop. Listen to your body. Think.

What is it you really want to achieve with your exercise and eating plan? Is the measure of your success a magic number? Kilos off, waist measurement down, reps up? Welcome to the wagon. Fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Letting go

The work in which I find myself deeply engaging my clients, is not about weight loss or improving fitness levels. These are secondary outcomes. It is about two very simple, but hugely challenging exercises. Letting go and loving yourself! How to nourish your body, how to move it, and what you think about your body, are all very important aspects in this process. Ultimately however, it’s simply about connecting with your body again. It’s about letting go of being “perfect” and embracing the body you’re in at that moment.

But how?

What does this look like when it comes to things like exercise and diet? It means exercising to feel good. Moving your body as often as you can because that’s what a body’s designed to do. Iit means eating foods that fuel your body (i.e. real food) MOST of the time and eating not-so-healthy, in-the-moment blissful foods SOME of the time. It means relaxing about getting it ‘right’ and focusing instead on how foods make your body feel.

As a professional ballet and hip hop dancer, I became very familiar with the wagon. I fell off and dragged myself back on again countless times. I now dance (actually, I do ballet pole) for my own enjoyment. I love the challenge of learning a new move, of completing a complicated routine, of matching what my body does to what the music does. I’m enjoying who I am. As a ‘recovering perfectionist’ it’s been a long journey and tougher than the toughest exercise routine. In the end though, it’s no longer personal; it’s just me.

The only sure way I know of not falling off the wagon is by not being on it in the first place.