What do you do when you’ve had a setback in your goal to eat well and lose weight?
That’s exactly where I am.
For the second weekend in a row, I chose to indulge. Very intentionally, I chose to buy and eat foods that, to me, are a treat (red wine, cheese, potato chips).
After enjoying myself several times on each weekend, I now have to think about what I’m doing before things get out of hand!
Beware of Once in a While
I might tell myself it’s ok to have a treat every once in a while, but every weekend is not once in a while. If I continue to indulge every weekend, I’ll constantly be taking two steps forward and then three steps back on my mission to get healthy and lose weight.
It will be difficult, if not impossible, to reach my long-term goal of losing 40 lbs by July 1, 2022. I might not achieve my dream of reaching and maintaining a weight that is ideal for my body (whatever that weight is; I estimate it will be 140 lbs or less).
When I eat healthy foods that are low in calorie density, high in nutrients and low in fat, I feel energetic, vibrant, and I lose weight. I can go long periods of time eating this way, but it’s when I make the choice to indulge, that I have issues.
Some negative results are physical, and some are more of a battle in my mind:
- Increased hot flashes
- Bloating, being gassy or having digestive discomfort
- Thinking about what I ate, why I ate it and not being pleased with how I feel.
- Feeling one or more of the following: regret, guilt, frustration, anger, sadness. I feel these a lot LESS these days, now that I’ve learned to work through them.
- Not being able to fall asleep
- Not sleeping restfully
- The risk of continuing with indulgent foods
Part of my unhealthy eating pattern is that I eat well for a while (days, weeks or months), and then I get off track.
The big question is… How long will I go off track?
In the past, there have been times I veered off course for weeks, which sometimes led to several months before I got back to eating healthy food on a regular basis. For me, falling off track always leads to weight gain and me feeling more lethargic and tired.
I know my patterns and have been here before. Story. Of. My. Life.
I will not let that happen this time. Even if I don’t make my goal by the deadline, I will not give up on me.
In January, I committed to the 6-month process of losing 40 lbs by July 1, 2022. I deeply want to be healthy as I age and do not want be overweight for the rest of my life.
Right now, I have just over 30 lbs left to lose to meet my goal. I lost 12 lbs in January, but have since gained back about 2-3 lbs.
Yes, I am down about 8 or 9 lbs (which is great; yay me!), but if I continue to eat indulgent foods most weekends, my weight will really climb, and I’ll lose the progress I’ve made.
Then, I’ll fall right back into the painful cycle of trying to lose weight again, and then falling off track again. Aaaagghhh!
After last weekend, I’m proud to say I quickly got back on track and ate healthy throughout the week. 🙂
Now that I just ate a bunch of unhealthy food this past weekend, I need to return to my normal routine of eating healthy food again, as well as extend it through the week, and into next weekend and beyond.
This is important because I need to gain more experience eating healthy food consistently.
The consistency is really important; I need to be able to eat and enjoy healthy foods for a long time, so I can see the benefits and learn how to rely less on the crappy foods for pleasure and comfort.
The longer I eat healthy food as part of a healthy lifestyle, the longer I’ll keep up with it. The longer I keep up with it, the more familiar it will become, and the more likely eating healthy will become a new eating pattern for me (a new eating pattern is really the ultimate goal).
Now, let me be clear about something. I’m not saying you should never eat an indulgent food again in order to be healthy or lose weight. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to indulgent food once in a while, but…
If you’re like me and trying to lose weight, indulging can lead you off track. Dipping your toes into the world of fatty, fried, processed food and regular consumption of alcohol will just make you want more of those foods.
If you are at your ideal weight for your body, and you want to indulge once in a while, ok, that makes sense. Assuming you can keep it to once in a while. Assuming it doesn’t lead you down the never-ending cycle of losing weight and gaining it back.
So many women today are caught up in this cycle, including me. Based on my history, I never stick to healthy eating long enough to gain the long-term benefits or to gain enough practice for me to incorporate it into my life, permanently.
I know I’m not the only one.
If eating crap in moderation (or whatever is your once in a while) actually worked, we wouldn’t have a society filled with people constantly struggling to lose weight or achieve better health.
So, WHAT is the answer?
How do we succeed? How can I succeed?
Aside from the food I choose to put in my mouth, I can find the answers within me.
How I will Overcome this Setback
There are 8 specific aspects of my LifeLens that will help me work through this setback. See my post for details on what your LifeLens is (similar to mindset, but so much more).
1. Temporary Feeling
This pain I feel after indulging several times (physical and emotional discomfort) is temporary. I started this post in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. When I wake up in the morning, I usually feel fine. Knowing that my pain is temporary is a helpful way to remind me that this feeling won’t last forever, and that I will be ok. I’ll get past this.
2. The Pleasure Trap
My struggle with eating unhealthy food is not my fault. I know, intellectually, that the food I’m drawn to has high levels of fat (sometimes salt and sugar too), and that my brain has evolved to desire foods with the most calories (fat has more than double the calories of carbohydrates and protein).
Eating today’s modern foods that include fat, sugar and salt, which are artificially concentrated (didn’t exist in those high amounts in the natural world), tricks my brain into thinking that eating those foods is a good thing, because they make me feel good (albeit, only temporarily).
The processed foods available in our modern society are addictive and not the foods my brain and body were designed to eat. By constantly being exposed to unhealthy and processed foods, giving in to their lure and eating them, and struggling to stay away from them, I find myself caught in what is known as the pleasure trap.
If you’re not familiar with the book, The Pleasure Trap, I highly recommend you read it. Written by Dr. Doug Lisle and Dr. Alan Goldhamer, it will help you understand why you keep going back to the foods that hurt you, and why it IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
3. Memory Circuitry
I’ve been conditioned for many years by my poor eating habits and routines. The addictive foods I turn to have always been there for comfort and good times. I trained my brain to expect these foods when I wanted to relax and have a good time.
Now those foods have been wired into my memory circuitry (I learned this in The Pleasure Trap). I expect pleasure when I eat them. Each time I give in to the captivating taste of unhealthy foods, I’m further cementing this memory circuitry. Understanding memory circuitry helps me know how strong a pull it has, but it also reassures me that it will take time to reset it.
Unhealthy foods have been part of my happy memories for a long time; I’ll need to retrain my memory circuitry, so my brain knows once and for all, that those foods ultimately cause not-so-good times now.
4. My Inner Power
Although the pleasure trap and my memory circuitry are powerful, so am I.
I am in control of what I eat. I cannot rely on people around me; I need to make food decisions that are right for me. It’s up to me to give myself the health I want. I am strong, and I deeply want to be healthy as I age. I do not blame the outside world for my choices. I accept responsibility for my actions while also being kind to myself.
Lecturing myself or calling myself a loser will not help me have success. Dwelling on negative emotions and behavior will not lift me up. Doing so will only make me feel worse. I’m not perfect, and I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to repeat mistakes too. And that’s ok. I accept my imperfections and love myself while I work through frustration, regret, etc. I can remind myself that I will get through this.
6. Expect Challenges
When working towards any worthwhile, meaningful goal, we will come across challenges. That’s part of how we learn. In the past, I would let myself feel really down, which would lead to weeks/months of eating crappy food.
I now have learned to get back on track much sooner. Although it can be difficult to do so, that is the challenge to overcome. Indulging in rich foods does not mean I’ve failed; indulging too much means I have an opportunity to accept my actions, and then move on.
7. Keep Trying
If a goal is important to me, I can persevere and not give up. It took me many attempts to quit smoking before I was successful. So many times!
I didn’t give up, and now I can say that quitting smoking was the second best thing I ever accomplished in my life (the first was giving birth to my daughter).
Sometimes people will suggest that what I’m doing to eat healthy and lose weight isn’t working, and that I should try something else.
There’s something they just don’t understand. Just like quitting smoking, it can take many attempts to give up addictive-like, fatty, processed food. People that don’t have food struggles like I do, don’t understand what it’s like. I will keep trying, regardless of how long it takes because I am worth it. I deserve good health.
8. The Good Stuff
Even though I’ve gone off track a few times since I began my mission to lose 40 lbs by July 1, 2022, I have stuck with other healthy habits most of the time: drinking lots of water, moving my body, and not eating late in the evening. I know I’m doing these things because I track them on my habit tracker. I can see my progress, and I’m proud of those habits.
There are other things I can do to help me get back on track, but the above 8 aspects of my LifeLens will be key in preventing me from going way off the map towards months of unhealthy eating and weight gain.
I know that it can be depressing when we feel defeated and like we’re never going to reach our goals. I know this pain. I get it. There is a way out, though.
Right now, there are two paths before me.
The First Path: Feel badly and like a loser, and continue to eat crappy food. Feel aches and pains and experience poor health and continued weight gain. Give up on myself and realize I’ll never be successful because it’s too hard, and I’ve failed so many times.
The Second Path: Recognize that I went off track, and move on. Get back to eating healthy food immediately. Feel good and experience improving health and weight loss. Commit to me and my goal and expect future challenges, knowing I can overcome them.
It’s pretty obvious which path is the right one to take.
Not take. The right path to choose.
The choice is mine.
I know I can achieve my goal, and I believe in myself. I am committed to my health, and although there are going to be bumps along the way, I will not give up on me. I will not let any set-back take me permanently off track.
Please know that if you struggle with your weight or spend too much time battling with food, you are not alone. Even though you are responsible for your choices, you live in a world designed to tempt you.
What this means is:
You must find a way to believe in yourself and harness your inner power, so you can traverse your way through the challenges of living a healthy lifestyle and come out as the person you want to become: healthy, at peace and free of the struggle.
You can do this. Bumps and all.
Live your true life,
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