Why do we fall off the wagon?

I've fallen off the wagon.

I keep getting back on the healthy train only to fall off it again. All it takes is one night, one relapse in focus and good habits. During the summer I was on the go all the time for the Alpine Coast to Coast adventure, I had to eat whatever was easy, quick and accessible. I was burning between 5,000-8,000 calories per day so I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted. That was my excuse.


In September, Charley and I were in London. We celebrated the Alpine Coast to Coast with friends and family, we had lots of meeetings planning new ventures, we drove from London to Wales to the Peak District and back to London before returning to Chamonix three weeks later. I completed Ironman Wales and led a cycling tour of 75 Google entrepreneurs from Paris to London. During this time, my eating habits were pretty dire. I ate chocolate, cake, cookies and food from all my favourite cafes in Soho. My excuse? I had no routine... I was recovering... I wasn't in my own kitchen... I hadn't even brought any tupperwear boxes with me! There's always an excuse.


Since returning to Chamonix, we've been trying to get our eating and fitness habits back into good shape. We normally stick to a 90% paleo diet, which you can read more about herehere and here. We've been trying to eat healthy and nutritious food that will help us stay in shape whilst sufficiently fuel our active lifestyles. Something is not working though.

I make really great progress for 4/5 days and then completely undo any good work and results over a few days of eating rubbish. This cycle has been on repeat for the past month.

Need less of this:

eating icecream in Courmayeur
eating icecream in Courmayeur

and more of this:

Trail running in Chamonix Sophie Radcliffe and Inov-8
Trail running in Chamonix Sophie Radcliffe and Inov-8

My blog is about me questioning myself and being curious about what I can do if I put my mind to it. Our dietary habits are very emotionally dependent and complicated. I have been questioning why I keep falling off the wagon;

1. It's the off-season

With the summer behind us and all our big events finished, October-November is generally known as the off-season. A chance to rest mentally and physically after a gruelling summer of cycling, triathlons, running, climbing mountains, adventures and more. This summer was undoubtedly the most intense and demanding summer of my life and I definitely needed the rest and space from putting myself under pressure. However, I've had rest and feel ready to get stuck into new beginnings and ventures. I know what I eat has a huge impact on how I feel, and in turn what I do, so why am I not sticking to good habits?

2. Association between good habits and being boring

As I mentioned, food is a very emotional thing. What we eat has a direct effect on the hormones that are released in our bodies creating all kinds of cravings, highs and lows and affecting our mood patterns. Sport and fitness has always had a huge link in my mind to reward. There's nothing I love more than going for a huge run and afterwards enjoying the rewards by eating whatever I feel like. After years of training, living and eating this way, it takes a while to undo old habits and this is definitely one of the primary reasons I fail to stick to the habits I'd like to. I need to work on differentiating the feeling of achievement from a tough training session with the desire to 'treat myself'. Since moving to the mountains, my training is more intense and more frequent, sadly this doesn't mean I can eat more chocolate!

Falling off the wagon
Falling off the wagon

3. Time and effort

Food is a big part of mine and Charley's lives; we love talking about it, cooking it, experimenting with it and eating it! There is no doubt about it, when I stick to great food habits and I'm spiralizing all my veg, reducing dairy and grain products and training well, I feel fantastic. I sleep well, don't feel bloated, feel hungry at all the right times. I eat a huge range and volume of fresh veg and I experiment with recipes I find from blogs and Instagram. I really love it. I feel toned and see noticeable changes in my body shape every day. It feels like progress and this motivates me to stick to good habits.

Food that makes me feel good
Food that makes me feel good
I love spiralizing my veg!
I love spiralizing my veg!

Check out this video I made of making our courgette pasta dinner!

I bring you courgette pasta! One of mine and @digitalsteak's favourite meals! Top with whatever sauce you like, we made carbonara with broccoli #paleo #glutenfree #foodporn @amanda.stocker @fitness_food_addict @inspiralized what do you think?

A video posted by Sophie Radcliffe (@challengesophie) on Oct 10, 2014 at 11:15am PDT

However, it takes a significant amount of time each day to prep food and ensure you eat all the right foods. You can't rely on grabbing something whilst you're out in town, especially not whilst living in France where the options are limited to bread and cheese. You need to have everything ready in tupperwear boxes before you go anywhere to ensure you eat the food you know will fuel you properly. Sometimes I get caught out and get too hungry whilst at meetings or on longer training sessions, these are the times I break my bad habits.

Where am I now?

For the last 5 days, we've been filming in the mountains. There was no tupperwear, no carefully prepared snacks. We were filming from before sunrise to after sunset. What did we eat? Bread, cheese and chocolate. Oh and Pizza. You guessed it right? Reese's PB cups and our new favourite Milka bar with oreos inside. Divine. Oops, I'm not allowed to say that! It makes me feel good in the short term but afterwards I feel a bit gross; bloated, dehydrated and tired.

Pizza with TimeCodePro film crew in Chamonix
Pizza with TimeCodePro film crew in Chamonix

So, the moral of this story? You decide...

Do you feel the same and ever fall off the wagon? How do you deal with fluctations in motivation to stick to desired eating habits or goals?

Concluding thoughts!

As we all know, balance is important in life. I will endeavour to keep the balance right between habits that I know make me feel good and making sure I treat myself from time to time. Not every day. I want to make progress and I'm fully aware of the things that send me backwards. We have to acknowledge that sometimes life gets in the way, but also recognise when that starts to become an excuse.

The value of anything in life is the price of what we had to give up to achieve it.

This morning I went for a long run in the mountains followed by eating a breakfast of spinach, eggs and green tea. My challenge is not to do that today, but to continually make progress with how I feel day after day.