This story was originally posted on May 19, 2014.
You have started a weight loss plan and you are optimistic and confident. You have a goal to lose 10 pounds by the beginning of summer. You know losing that 10 pounds will help you control your blood glucose. You also know it will also help your cardiovascular health, enable you to move easier and allow you to fit into your favorite bathing suit. You are definitely looking forward to being able to wear that swim suit again. But you are a bit worried about following your meal plan and keeping to your exercise schedule for the long-term. Planning is the secret weapon for keeping your eye on the prize.
When you can bring you lunch to work, stop by the gym after work and then cook a healthy dinner when you arrive home, keeping on track is a breeze.
Or when there are no major parties, no fancy social engagements, no birthdays.
When you’re healthy and you don’t have a cold or the flu it is smooth sailing. It is easy when you always have a great day at work and when your partner or spouse is always wonderful to you, when no one close to you is sick or has died.
However, there is rarely a time when life is smiles and sunshine and surprise-free. There may be that office dinner or the church social that a friend unexpectedly asks you to accompany her to. Then there is the time when you or a close family member gets sick. The stress of illness, yours or others’, can easily deride all your good weight loss intentions.
You need to plan both for how you are going to handle different types of situations where food (sometimes food that isn’t the most healthful) is available and plan for the times that you take a few missteps. Although letting the chips fall where they may can be an exciting way to take a vacation, it usually is a poor choice for those trying to lose weight.
Planning for social occasions requires that you have a strategy. Perhaps you will eat beforehand and enjoy chatting and dancing at the function, or have a snack before you go out so you are not as hungry when you arrive. Perhaps you are going to taste everything offered, but in very small bites. Or maybe you intend to eat along with everyone else, but take a walk before and/or after the meal. Any or all of these propositions will work; you simply need to know beforehand what your game plan is. It doesn’t have to be the same strategy all the time, but you need to have one in place.
“We all need to be realistic. On our birthdays, we will want to have cake for example. We can’t expect to live in a fantasy of perfection. By giving ourselves some wiggle room, we create a lifestyle that’s more likely to be maintainable, “ says research psychologist Ann Goebel-Fabbri, PhD, at Joslin Diabetes Center. Dr. Goebel-Fabbri works with the Why WAIT team helping patients overcome psychological barriers to weight loss.
You also have to accept that you are going to have setbacks. Sometimes in the world of mice and men, you are going to fall off the wagon. That is to be expected. It is how you react to your misstep that counts. Weight loss is two steps forward and one step back. Realizing that you are going to eat more and exercise less than you want to on occasion, shouldn’t be a reason to give up your goals. Put another way: having three cookies at lunch shouldn’t be a reason to have two pieces of pie at dinner. Instead it should be looked at as just the expected one step back. After a setback you want to brush yourself off and get right back on track and then take two steps ahead.