Overcoming weight-loss setbacks

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Overcoming weight-loss setbacks

Weight-loss setbacks can be overcome. Here's how to get back on track.

It's not unusual to occasionally lose track of your weight-loss program and slip back into old patterns of unhealthy eating and minimal exercise. In fact, you can expect it to happen and have a plan in place to recover when it does. It takes time and regular reinforcement for your new healthy behaviors to become habits.

Use these tips to help you deal with occasional weight-loss setbacks:

  • Take charge. Accept responsibility for your own behavior. Remember that ultimately only you can help yourself lose weight.
  • Avoid risky situations. If all-you-can-eat buffets are just too much temptation, avoid them, at least until you feel more in control of your new eating behavior.
  • Buy time. If you're tempted to indulge in an old favorite food, first ask yourself if you're really hungry. Chances are, it's a craving and you may talk yourself out of it. If not, wait a few minutes and see if the desire passes. Or try distracting yourself from your urge to eat — call a friend or take the dog for a walk. If the craving still doesn't pass, have a glass of water or a piece of fruit instead.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Practice self-forgiveness. Don't let negative self-talk — "I've blown it now!" — get in your way of getting back on track with your eating and exercise goals. Try not to think of your slip-up as a catastrophe. Remember that mistakes happen and that each day is a chance to start anew.
  • Ask for and accept help. Accepting help from others isn't a sign of weakness, nor does it mean that you're failing. Asking for help is a sign of good judgment, not weakness. You need support from others to keep you on track when you have difficult days.
  • Work out your guilt and frustration with exercise. Take a walk or go for a swim. But keep your exercise and activity upbeat. Never use it as punishment for a lapse.
  • Plan your strategy. Clearly identify the problem, and then create a list of possible solutions. Try a solution. If it works, you've got a strategy for preventing another lapse. If it doesn't, try the next solution and keep trying until you find one that works.
  • Recommit to your goals. Review your weight-loss goals and make certain they're still realistic. Remember, healthy weight loss comes slowly — 1 or 2 pounds a week.

What if you do experience a weight-loss setback? Although relapses are disappointing, they can help you learn to keep your goals realistic, what high-risk situations to avoid, or that certain strategies don't work for you.

Above all, realize that you're not a failure. Reverting to old behaviors doesn't mean that all hope is lost. It just means that you need to recharge your motivation, recommit to your program and return to healthy behaviors.

Last Updated: 10/13/2006
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