Tips for Getting “Back on Track”
Weight management is the result of hundreds of small decisions throughout the day. Some days you may feel as though you are “right on track”, eating 3 balanced meals, getting a solid workout in, and making it to bed before 10pm. But there may be other days when you get busy and skip meals, sit at your desk most of the day, and indulge in those cupcakes your coworker brough into the lunchroom. It is impossible to ALWAYS make the healthiest decisions. However, when the balance between healthy and unhealthy choices tilts unfavorably, the outcome can be weight gain.
After weight loss surgery, it is common for patients to “test the waters” at some point. They might try a few bites of their favorite indulgence “just to see what happens.” These one-offs may result in little to no effect on weight and overall habits. However, when the balance tips too far and the slip becomes a slide, the result can be a sense of loss of control that is accompanied by weight gain. That is relapse and collapse.
How to recognize a “slip” before a “slide”
- Begin tracking your food and beverage intake. Compare it to previous record and assess differences. Are you eating more calories, carbohydrates and sugar? Are you eating less protein and fiber?
- Assess your current and previous activity level. Are you staying as consistent, working out at the same intensity, or working out for as long as you had been?
- Have there been any major changes in your life that have impacted your sleep or stress? Did emotions, cravings, or social situations contribute to behavioral backsliding?
How to get back on track:
- Set small goals that are realistic and doable. For example, packing a lunch rather than eating out, taking a walk at work when feeling stressed rather than grabbing a sugary treat.
- Keep your self-talk positive and action focused: “This is not the end of the world. No one is perfect. I know how to make healthy choices. I can get back on track.”
- Resume tracking your diet, exercise and other habits.
- Explore new ways to deal with emotions or cravings. Observe how you traditionally react to certain triggers and come up with a few ideas how to change this behavior in the future. For example, instead of wandering into the kitchen during the commercial, practice your push-ups or drink some water. Rather than opting for the chocolate cookie in the break room, go for a 5-10 minute walk and get some fresh air or eat a protein rich snack instead.
- Make sure to eliminate any trigger foods in places that you can control, such as your home. Have some ice cream in your freezer. Give it to a friend or throw it away. Finishing it will not help you make positive progress towards your goals.
- Increase the ease of being able to exercise. Leave your exercise clothes out before bed, leave comfortable shoes so you can take a walk on your lunch break, keep small dumb bells or resistance bands near your couch for when you’re watching TV.
- Get support from family, friends, personal trainers, support groups, and/or a counselor.
- Find ways to reward yourself for your positive efforts and behaviors.
- Commit to change. Write a contract to yourself that states your goal and reward. Brainstorms ways to deal with difficult situations when they arise in the future. If you eat when you are stressed, write down 3-5 options for you to choose from (that don’t include food) when that feeling presents itself. Commit to practicing new behaviors.
- Reevaluate your new coping strategies that you committed to practicing. Did they work? If not, why not? What might you try next time instead?