I love a good metaphor.

Picture a train with a bunch of different passenger cars. Every car represents a different part of your life, and they are all connected. One car is your family, one car is your work, one car is your fitness, one car is nutrition, etc.

For me, my main train cars are family, exercise, nutrition, coaching, work, mental health and friends. All the cars work together to keep me on track. Depending on the day or the week, a different car may play the part of the engine, pulling the others along.

But what happens if one of the cars has a broken wheel? Or if it actually goes right off track? They’re connected and rely on each other so if one car goes off track it’s in danger of pulling the others off with it.

You have the option of disconnecting a car but unless you’re near a junction, all the cars behind it will be stuck.

Before I completely beat this metaphor to death, the whole point is that one of my cars was off track. Possibly a few cars, if I really analyze the last few months. My work has been really stressful as we prepared for the biggest event in our work year, so my “work car” had probably lost a wheel or two.

My exercise car, family car and coaching car were still pretty stable, and all my energy was going towards keeping them on track. My mental health car was hanging on, but there had been no maintenance to that car in a while.

My nutrition car, on the other hand, was perilously close to going over the edge. All the other cars were basically dragging it along in an effort to protect themselves.

Okay, metaphor done…for now. But my nutrition in the last three months has NOT been good. It hasn’t been “eat a whole pizza, bag of Doritos and pint of ice cream” bad, but if there was a baked good or treat at work, I indulged. My meals were relatively OKAY, but my portions weren’t as on point as they should have been.

As someone who reached 230lbs before deciding to make a change, I am no stranger to stress eating. I seek comfort in food even though I KNOW that it will make me feel worse IMMEDIATELY. It’s a vicious cycle. You are stressed, so you eat. Then you feel like crap which causes more stress, which makes you eat. You defy reason. You pretend to be EXTRA strong, and attempt to delude your co-workers into believing that you are SO in control that you are CHOOSING to eat that muffin.

My body is feeling it. Because of sticking with the workouts, my muscles are seeing an improvement, but my midsection is nowhere as lean or strong as it was. To the point of flab. And that is ALL about nutrition. The all-knowing “THEY” say that fitness is approximately 80% nutrition, 20% exercise. This stat isn’t entirely accurate, but nutrition does play a huge part. My experience is a perfect example, where I’ve been working out on track but my results aren’t totally equal to my effort.

It’s not like I don’t have the tools. I have an awesome portion-control system right at my fingertips and I lead a challenge every month that helps people follow it. But with everything else going on, it has been the thing that has fallen down. Every day was long hours, every day was stressful, every day came with unknowns and constant problem solving. And that was only at work. When I got home, mom guilt and exhaustion fought a valiant battle.

Part of the reason I started my weight loss journey in late 2009 was because that was when I was on maternity leave. Apart from the newborn and toddler, my schedule was mine to establish. I was able to reset and start a whole new set of habits, away from the temptations and traps at my office. I had the time to build new habits and enforce them so that when I eventually returned to work it was just how life was, there was no question of slipping back to the old ways.

This week, I was on vacation (cue angels singing). I got out of the work cycle I was in, and lived a new routine. I had the opportunity for a RESET. We made all our meals, and because we were staying with friends and one of them is also a coach, they were awesome healthy meals. I did all my workouts, we walked lots and made taking care of ourselves a PRIORITY. It was incredible. I ate veggies at every meal and chose veggie snacks over treats. I drank water non-stop. I slept. One day I even NAPPED. I’ve had some time to evaluate where things had gone wrong, and what I need to do to course-correct.

My train is getting back on track. All the cars are in line and working together again. All the cars are maintained and in good working order. And I now have a toolkit ready to go for when I go back to work, so that things don’t go off the rails again. Prepped veggies to take to work and meals planned for the week. Fancy new water bottle to encourage myself to drink more water. And a re-energized resolve to stick with the plan. I am ready.