For When You Fall Off the Wagon

The phrase “fell off the wagon” dates back to the Prohibition era when it was illegal for folks to drink alcohol. The “wagon” was a water cart that was used to spray down dusty roads on hot summer days. It didn’t provide drinking water, but apparently if you were abstaining from alcohol you would use the phrase “on the water cart” or “on the water Temporary Defeat Hillwagon” to let people know your drinking preferences. Those who drank alcohol were then known as “off the wagon.”

And that’s not really what this post is about, but I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to finding out the origin of words and phrases and random things. I found an article that says the phrase is now commonly used to describe someone who gave up drinking but then went back to it. It’s also used in reference to those who quit diet and exercise plans.

Now we’re onto something.

You see, in March I fell off the wagon. No, I didn’t take up alcoholism. I did, however, start to give up on my exercise plan. I could count on one hand the number of times I worked out during the first half of the month. It just wasn’t happening. I did stick with the No Sugar {ish} Challenge. Maybe it was too much work to do both? I have all sorts of excuses: spring break and routine changes, my husband’s schedule, some sinus issues. The excuses don’t really matter, we can always rationalize reasons for our choices. What matters is that I wasn’t willing to put in the work.

But, what matters even more is I was willing to get back on the wagon. I didn’t give up.

One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat. —Napoleon Hill

In the past 10 days, I have gotten in six workouts. That’s what matters now. Sure, I can hash things out in my mind and beat myself up for the progress lost last month. I can fill my head with negative thoughts like, “Why bother? I’ll never change.”

Or, I can start again.

It was a temporary set back, because I didn’t let it continue forever. I didn’t quit.

On every journey, there are bound to be detours, delays and setbacks. In fact, it’s sometimes the unexpected events of a trip that provide us with the best stories to tell others. You know how it goes, “Remember that one time when … [insert story of getting stuck somewhere on a vacation].” I’m not sure that’s the case with my lack of exercise last month, but as Jessica and I share our stories — the real life, “yep, I messed up” stories — we’re pretty sure someone will relate. We want you to know that you’re not alone.

Maybe you started the No Sugar {ish} Challenge and it only lasted one day. Maybe you printed off one of Jessica’s workouts and only finished one week. Maybe there’s some other area of your life where you’ve fallen off the wagon. We need to look at these as temporary defeats, not the end of the story. Jump back on the wagon! You can do it!

P.S. Tomorrow is Jessica’s birthday! Shhhh! Don’t tell her I told you, but wish her a happy day! 🙂


Cori Drost

Cori is a wife, mom of three and random writer who is learning how to take small steps towards big goals. She tends to be an all-or-nothing kind of person, but a journey to learn how to run (something she always hated) has taught her a lot about gradual, slow change. 


3 thoughts on “For When You Fall Off the Wagon

  1. Pingback: Getting Back on the Wagon | The Journey

  2. Pingback: Motivation: Set Realistic Goals | The Journey

  3. Pingback: Keeping Score | The Journey

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