Success has never felt so sweet, high fives fill the air; the smell of victory enhances the flavor I can taste, and my smile screams, “Eureka!” Thinking I found the Holy Grail, discovered the secret to weight loss and fitness, my elation feels boundless. With the commitment to boot-camp classes and eating clean, I crossed a 17.4-pound, 5% body fat loss finish line.

Riding high, feeling invincible in a place of extraordinary comfort, I hope this good feeling is not fleeting. My belief in its sustainability, continuation, and successful march to the next leg of the weight loss journey seems like a road well traveled. People have my back, support me, and my words echo within, “This is my time; nothing is getting in my way.” My inner cheerleader believes in my strength to outweigh my weaknesses. Yet the scale tips upward when I have let my guard down in the past, the addiction pounces when the fort lays unprotected.

Strangely, I neglect to weigh in at the finale of this twelve-week program I joined, as most brave souls did. The truth is I am full of shit. Without a bowel movement, I know the scale inches upward, causing my elation to drown in the scale’s declaration. Weighing in the prior eleven weeks and needing to feel the success without the power of the scale overshadowing my numbers seems a smart action.

Feeling fixed after twelve, powerful weeks, I deceive myself. Congratulating cronies and accepting compliments for the journey we ventured together, I feel fraudulent. A “Now what” feeling plagues me as I drive from the final weigh-in event. Instantly catapulted into another five-week gig with them to keep me losing the excess appendages from my thighs, I am an onion, layers peeling off revealing my inner recesses beneath the pounds shed. Numbness envelopes me as I drive home. “What next” troubles me.

During this body challenge program, workout acquaintances empower themselves with a lifestyle plan of clean eating and intense boot camp classes to lose unwanted weight. Soul searching and deep discovery fidgets with broken, damaged, and inner, emotional pieces as the weight releases and the heart attempts mending. Belief that anything is possible energizes, inspires, and motivates jumping back on the wagon for continued success.

For some, their resiliency springs them back aboard, while others remain dangling from the side, clawing to climb up a divot-less wall, a slippery slope simply too challenging to grab hold. Hands extend from those above, attempting to reach participants below for support and shoulder them upward. Sometimes help is not enough to catapult those struggling to safety, whereas others receive the exact inspiration and motivation needed to return to a successful journey aboard.

Admiring those able to rejoin the clan, I wonder if climbing along the slippery wall while seduced by sugar addiction, old habits, and emotional baggage characterizes me as a survivor or one of the defeated. Now faced with fear, I allow a small amount of sugary poison into my system, enough to cause the cravings to grab hold. With sugar in my body, I surrender willingly, guiltily, sliding down the wagon wheel towards the ground. I am sliding, gliding, and escaping into an abyss.

Falling off the wagon is not my low point. Twelve weeks, a minuscule half percent of my entire life risks becoming obsolete, erased, and derailed from the tracks. The excuses I spew and negotiate how I can “get clean” at any point, as if climbing back on the wagon is a simple avenue I will eventually choose, are lies. Instead, an hour off the wagon turns into a day, a day into two, and then a week. Addiction calls my name and has me running its protocol; rock bottom is nearby.

Gathering strength to fight the endless tide of sugar addiction, the good fight feels futile. Demonic cookies, evil candy, decadent, seductive chocolate, and a continuing stream of sugary carbohydrates drench my system with its luring euphoria. Wanting to “get clean,” the cravings continue relentlessly.

Searching my social, inner circle for support for “Falling off the wagon,” I discover numerous victims of devastating self-destructive behavior. Gathering inspiration from their plight, mentors also kindly respond with compassion, motivation, and empathy to bait me upward. Addiction silences them temporarily, yet I know their words, thoughts, and deep-felt caring beckons deeper within where the heart feels healing.

Lifted by their words of wisdom, resilience is knocking. When knocked over the side of the wagon, what we do matters. Dusting myself off, beginning again, using effective tools, and moving forward with supportive arms reaching for me when I falter, fear dissipates gradually. Climbing back on the wagon holds the key to freedom, peace, and elation. Although the poisonous spew of sugar remains in my system, the future appears promising. “This is my time! Nothing is getting in my way!” and the commitment to change commences.