Falling off……The only advice you’ll ever need

 Im sure you’ve heard the phrase “I fell off the wagon”.  I’m willing to bet you’ve even said it a few times yourself. 


I can’t think of how many times I’ve written about ways to get back on the “wagon” or how to pick up the pieces and keep on trucking. 


From tips and tactics to avoid it, to what to do after it happens. 


But alas, it still happens. People “fall off” and end up quitting their fitness journey prematurely. Destined to revisit it 10 years later with a shittier hand that was dealt for them. 


I felt like I didn’t need to touch this subject again since I spewed out all my advice on it. And then it hit me. Duh Jonathan! Thats just it, YOUR advice. Ive given my advice but failed to mention the advice I got.  After strolling through my memory archive (everyone has that, right?) I remembered what advice I received that completely changed this whole falling off the wagon thing. It completely changed the way I saw things from then on. It actually took me two times to really learn this. After that my mom never had to remind me again.


The first time….


I had been in karate for what felt like forever. It was probably like 3-5 years (I can’t remember, ill ask my mom). Slowly but surely I started getting better at it. 


After a while we started going to tournaments and I kept getting first place in tournaments in the kata portion (its like a choreographed routine for karate, except less dancing and more kicking).


A few more tournaments went by and I was able to participate in the sparring portion of the tournaments. It was cool. You get to pad up your feet, hands, and head and jump around and try and hit the other dude. At that age (Shit! I can’t remember how old I was either) , the moment the ref said their version of “let’s get it on” , structure went out the window and it would turn into those youtube videos you see of kids sparring by kicking and punching the air without ever getting close to one another. 


You’d get a hit here and there and eventually there would be a winner. My specialty………was the flying bonk. I really couldn’t think of anything else to name it.  I accidentally discovered that a hit to the top of the head gave you points and no one usually expected that. So that was my thing. Id wait a bit after my opponents fury of aimless punches and kicks and then jump and lay the hammer down. Id throw a few dummy punches and then boom, repeat hammer down move. With that I won my first few matches and tournaments. I thought I was good…….


One tournament in particular I was pretty excited about. I had just come off of a win on my last one and this one was gonna be in another city where I had some family. They were all gonna go and watch. Cool right? Get to show my family my skills and make them proud. 


Showtime came around and my first match was against some dude who was apparently undefeated. I was used to smaller tournaments where undefeated usually meant sparred twice and won. Not like legitly undefeated. I saw the dude warm up……He was legitly undefeated.


Five seconds into the match I went for the jugular and tried my trusty hammer move. Only to get caught with an uppercut to the gut  mid air. That punch forced out every molecule of oxygen I had in me. Expelled is a better word. I suddenly developed a small fear of drowning while I laid there gasping for air. 



The judge said to walk it off and get ready for the next round. I was able to pause my gasps long enough to yell a good NO! The match was called and the guy won. I walked up to the stands and regained a bit of oxygen like 30 min later. I was heartbroken. I lost. And my family saw it all. It wasn’t so much the embarrassment but also the higher level of competition I was exposed to that freaked me out. 


After that on the drive home my mom did the typical mom thing and said I did great and shake it off. I told her I didn’t wanna be in karate anymore. I was done and retiring early. She asked if it was because of the hit and I nodded yes. Thats when she told me something Id never forget. 


That was the first time you’ve gotten hit that hard huh? Well I have to tell you, it sucks. The first hit sucks…….but it definitely won’t be your last. You’re gonna get hit time and time again. And if you quit now because of it you’re gonna miss out on all the benefits this journey can offer you.  


I heard what she said. But I don’t think I fully understood until she said it one more time years later. 


It was my first year in baseball and I had been put on second base. I had been in the outfield because I was new and this was a chance for me to be put on second base permanently. Because of my age, size, and rookie status I had to show the coaches Id be a good fit for it. I guess it was kind of like tryouts.


Everything was going great until a line drive rolled up on me so fast that I didn’t even have a chance to cup my glove. The ball barreled into my chest. It felt like a cannonball shot me point blank. The coach told me to take a break and maybe I should just be outfield a little bit longer.



I walked to the side gate where my mom was waiting for me and I guess she recognized that same look on my face from the post karate car ride years ago. I was ready to call it a day and head home. 


Then she said it again.  You love playing second base. That was your first hit………..but remember, it won’t be your last. 


Im not sure if it was because I was older, or because I had heard it a second time, or because it happened on two separate life experiences. But it clicked. Its like I finally knew what she meant. It wasnt just with karate or baseball. It was with everything. 


I wiped myself off and ran back to the coach and asked him to let me finish practice. I played second base from then on. 


Falling off the wagon is no different. Its just another life experience. 


You start off on a good streak by getting all your workouts in and eating clean. Then boom a holiday comes or old habits start sneaking in and you “fall off the wagon”.


You’re not a failure if you learn from it, but you’re definitely not a winner if you quit. You only lose if you stay down. 


This whole fitness journey is and should be longer than you think. It should be lifelong. You’ll fall of the wagon and thats ok. You’re in this for the long haul. 


If this is one of those times, just remember this.  It might or might not be your first…..but one thing is for sure is it definitely isn’t your last. Unless you let it….        




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