Has it been a while since the scale moved in the right direction? Is motivation waning? Whether you’ve hit a plateau or started slipping back into old habits, it’s never too late to get back on course. The key? Stay positive and don't be hard on yourself. Simply be curious about your choices, and use your experiences as learning opportunities for the future. Don't give up — use these tips to get back on track.
It's normal to hit plateaus. Most people reach one after six months of weight loss. Try these solutions:
- Review your food and activity records to make sure you haven't let yourself backtrack with larger portions or less exercise.
- Reduce your daily calorie intake by 200 calories, unless this puts you in a range that's too low for good health.
- Gradually increase your daily exercise time by 15 to 30 minutes. If possible, also increase the intensity.
- Focus on three- to four-week trends in weight loss instead of daily changes.
- Reassess your program and goals. If it's too much to decrease calories or increase activity, it's better to be satisfied with the weight you have lost than to throw in the towel and regain it.
Dealing with lapses
A lapse occurs when you revert to your old behaviors temporarily. If several lapses have occurred in a short time, it's tempting to think your weight-loss plan is too challenging. Not to worry; a lapse is just a short-term bump in the road. Following these tips will help you regain ground:
- Don't let negative thoughts take over. Mistakes happen, and each day is a chance to start anew.
- Take another small step. Changing your life doesn't happen all at once. Keep in mind that changing behaviors in small ways can add up to a big difference in your life.
- Ask for and accept support. Accepting support from other people isn't a sign of weakness, nor does it mean that you're failing. Get support from others when you have difficult days.
- Plan your strategy. Clearly identify the problem, and then create a list of possible solutions. If one solution doesn't work, try another until you find one that does.
- Work out your frustration with exercise. Keep it upbeat and even fun — don't use physical activity as a punishment.
- Recommit to your goals. Review them to make sure they're still realistic.
Although lapses can be disappointing, they can also teach you a lot. Perhaps your goals are unrealistic or certain strategies don't work. Most importantly, realize that all hope isn't lost when you lapse. Just recharge your motivation, recommit to your program and return to healthy behaviors.