According to the chief scientist at Weight Watchers, Karen Miller-Kovach, falling off the wagon isn’t a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. And although we addressed this problem previously, we can never have enough tips to prevent this problem.
So if we accept that a ‘diet relapse’ or falling off the wagon is almost a given, the first hint is NOT to despair.
Instead, you should have a project plan in place on how to prevent the next lengthy interruption to the weight loss process.
PLUS work on how to climb back onto the wagon. If you can master those two skills, then, unlike previously, hopefully a relapse won’t be the end of your healthy eating and weight loss goals.
Let’s check out what sort of diet relapses there are because there can be different types. And they might require different fixes.
I’ll start with the easy one first.
Imagine that you’re going along just fine and are in The Zone. Your portion sizes are what you need and your food choices support your goal.
But then, out of the blue, you lose the plot. 😫
Often you can’t even understand why you did this. Everything was going so well.
And what comes next determines what you’ll eat over the next few days or even weeks.
If you handle this slip up in a calm and mindful way, you can get straight back on track at the next meal. All this can happen without emotionally berating yourself or going through a long-lasting guilt trip.
DIET RELAPSE TYPE #1
Did this blowout meal or snackattack happen because you were too strict and placed yourself into diet prison? Because that’s a sure way to want to break out. Nobody likes to be deprived for too long.
If that was the reason then it’s time to look at your eating plan. If you don’t enjoy the food options, or you are often way too hungry or the plan is too restrictive, then it might not be right for you.
You should happily tuck into satisfying, yet slimming meals and enjoy the odd treat here and there. That way you won’t feel the need to break out and go overboard.
Or did this occur because you were too stressed and needed some highly palatable food that was going to help you release some ‘happy hormones‘?
The fact is that high calorie, sugary, salty and fatty foods can activate the reward centre in our brain and cause happy hormones to be released. And can even become habit-forming.
Here’s Tip 1
Draw a big line under the blowout meal. Accept that you ate some food that wasn’t helpful for your waistline but was helpful in satisfying your tastebuds.
And if this occurred because you were stressed, had problems at work and needed to just ‘let go’ for a bit, that’s ok too.
There will be 20 more meals during the week which can be made more nutritious. Your body is actually quite forgiving UNLESS you keep on eating things in the wrong portion sizes. Or you choose foods that aren’t going to get you where you wish to be.
If you can get back on track at the next meal, and realise you’re not a ‘bad person’…you just had a ‘bad day’, life can happily move on.
To prevent stress from pushing you to eat, think up some food-free activities that are going to be fun and enjoyable. Perhaps a relaxing hobby? Or meeting up with a friend online or in person. Or going for a walk, weather permitting. Anything that is going to de-stress and make you smile.
Here’s Tip 2
This was a game-changer for me when I was fixing up my diet. (Diet = way of eating)
Namely, only making an eating or exercise commitment for one day at a time.
The idea of ‘I will not eat any cake or ice cream until I lose a stone’ did not work for me anymore. It used to freak me out and make me miserable. I felt sorry for myself and viewed myself as a victim. Like a “Poor Me” syndrome.
But when I switched to this following new system, it worked for me!
When I got up in the mornings, I used a journal next to my bed.
The first thing I did was write into it ‘Today I choose to remain sugar-free’. And today I will engage in 30 minutes of weight lifting.
Infrequently I wrote the opposite: ‘Today I will have a piece of chocolate after dinner and not feel guilty’. Or ‘today I am having a rest day’. And on a Sunday, I may have written ‘today I’m going to have a single slice of mum’s delicious cake’.
Rather than stressing about several months of ‘No sugar’ etc., these daily commitment chunks worked very well for me.
Might they work for you too?
Let’s look at DIET RELAPSE TYPE #2
That’s a trickier one.
It goes like this: slowly but surely, bit by bit, you reverted back to eating in an unhelpful way. It might have started with a biscuit with your cup of tea each afternoon. Then came the portion creep [always up, never down].
Or your regular breakfast option was suddenly a crumpet with a bit of jam instead of rolled oats.
And lunch had a slice of bread with each soup instead of salad. And as time went on, you found that your eating style had reverted to where you started from.
And this meant you had to go back to square one and retrain your eating habits. That can take more effort and motivation than Relapse Type 1, where after one single incident you get straight back on track.
And here’s Tip 3
Monitor your exercise and eating habits. Best not to let them slide for too long. Because if you go down the proverbial rabbit hole …climbing back out from there requires more strength and determination than fixing the issue after the odd off-plan meal.
Find the trigger for how and why this reversion occurred and set strong steps in motion to prevent it from happening again.
Create a list of the possible scenarios that could make you stray from your healthy eating and exercise commitments.
And then find solutions to avoid those problems.
Like eating and drinking on social outings.
How will you deal with those? (I always have either a protein shake or eat something beforehand so I don’t arrive at the venue starving.)
So next time when things go a bit haywire, sit back, look at your list of solutions you created and choose a way forward straight away. Don’t let it lapse for more than a single oopsie.
In my VIP Wellness Club, we are focusing on this subject in a more in-depth way. Would you like to join us for more tips?
No more totally falling off the wagon under my watch! 😘