Whether it's your first time trying to lose weight or if you're an experienced calorie-counter, there is always the temptation to cheat.
Waking up to the smell of bacon, driving past the local McDonald's, or even something as trivial as a commercial for Popeye's new chicken and a biscuit combo can set off a craving that breaks your willpower and has you reaching for the car keys or moves those once steady legs to the fridge.
Here are some thoughts on how prevent a tail-spin.
Keep things in perspective
Remember that nobody is perfect! A small slip in your diet can actually prevent a total breakdown or food binge down the road and striving for perfection in your weight loss program will only hurt your progress in the long run.
The book, The Secret is Out, puts it best when it says, "the dieter who strives for good health has drive, while perfectionist dieter is driven." The perfectionist dieter will set their goals high and struggle trying to accomplish them due to self-recrimination following any little slip along the way, whereas healthy dieters will also set the bar high but have far less frustration trying to get there due to there ability to keep things in perspective.
No matter how many cookies you pass up at the grocery store, or how many holidays or parties you make it through without overindulging, chances are at some point you're going to give in. An important thing to understand is that your craving, or need to cheat, is all in your head and not a real physiologic need. Nobody needs the high-fat, salty, greasy or sugar-ridden foods they crave. Even though cravings are sure to pop up from time to time, there are several ways to reduce the actuality of a cheat occurring, and, even more importantly, there are more ways to get back on track immediately afterwards.
How do I get back on track?
Cheating doesn't mean failure! The biggest mistake people make is thinking that cheating is equivalent to failure. It is important to keep your goals in mind and be patient with your weight loss.
The extra pounds you're trying to lose didn't accumulate overnight so understand it will take time to reach your weight and overall health goals. If you're trying to lose 20 pounds, slipping up and putting 2 pounds back on after losing 10 doesn't mean you failed - it just slowed you down. Don't focus on the 2-pound weight gain, but instead look at the big picture and focus on the weight you've lost.
Two-steps forward and one step back is still a step in the right direction. The trick is to reduce your steps backwards in the future. Forgive the indiscretion, but don't forget it! Consider the situation, feelings, or reasons surrounding the occasion and come up with some strategies to avoid the same thing from happening again.
Vacations, sporting events, weekends, and parties are easy places to lose control of your diet; however, avoiding these occasions makes you miss out on fun times and leads to additional feelings of deprivation. Sometimes actually planning for an occasion where you will not follow your program (within reason of course!) will help you eliminate cravings in anticipation of that event and keep you from abandoning your weight loss efforts afterword.
Instead of playing the hermit card and staying in your exclusive dieting shell, plan ahead and create a plan on how to bounce back afterword or reduce the unhealthiness of a situation. Bringing your own healthier food or side dish to a party or cookout is an easy way to reduce calories.
As for a sporting event, eating a healthy meal before the game with fill your stomach and help fight the temptation for the foot-long "frank" and bucket of cotton candy. Just remember to mark down the occasion ahead of time to make sure you aren't cheating too often. Take some time in advance to plan how you are going to bounce back or come up with a strategy to better control the unhealthy situation.
Doctors Roizen and Oz, authors of the You On a Diet, cleverly explain how to bounce back from a cheat. They use the analogy of a GPS on a trip to explain how you should think on a diet. They write: "[If you make a wrong turn on a trip,] the GPS doesn't berate you, doesn't scold you... Instead, all it says, very politely is this: "At the next available moment, make an authorized U-turn."
This idea of getting back on track using a "U-turn" is not only clever, but is an extremely easy, lighthearted way to keep you from beating yourself up after cheating.
Attitude is everything!
Keep a positive attitude about your diet. Weight loss is a journey so don't let one mistake derail you. Keep your goals in mind, remember that nobody's perfect, and that giving up on yourself and your weight loss efforts will get you nowhere on your path to better health.
When a cheat occurs don't get depressed - just make a "U-turn" and get back on track. Even though the cheat may slow you down, don't let it put you in reverse! Remember the ultimate goal ... Continue
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