Why setbacks are important in long-term weight lossPosted: September 25, 2011
Two posts ago, I started a conversation about relapses and setbacks in long-term weight loss. I am in this weird place where I am doing really well for short stretches; making the right choices and eating well. Mainly this means I am eating protein, carbs, and fat in balance five to six times a day. Doing well also means taking my supplements and getting enough sleep.
Then, after days of great eating, I find myself eating handfuls of M&M’s during a Friday afternoon meeting. Not just a few. But HANDFULS. This precipitated a severe headache that lasted for two days. I felt really gross after doing this.
When this type of setback happens, it drudges up a lot of old feelings and habits. I think, “Who cares? I screwed up, so I am just going to forget it. I will eat pizza for dinner because of the mistake I made this afternoon. It really doesn’t matter anyway.” We all know where this all or nothing thinking leads to. It was a big part of why I gained an extra 100 pounds in the first place.
How I was successful this last of many times to lose weight was by getting excellent nutrition advice coupled with allowing myself the occasional food setback, so that a full blown relapse (of the sort I am contending with now) wouldn’t come. This worked really well. The few times I “fell off the wagon” were minimized by all of the good eating and living I was doing. And low and behold, 90 pounds is gone.
So, it is weird to me that when I have only a bit more to go, I have a full blown relapse. Of the kind I haven’t experienced for two years (i.e., eating until I am literally sick).
I think what this relapse is trying to teach me is that it is necessary and serving an important function. It is reminding me of what worked in the first place. Rather than trying to control it, I am trying to make peace with the relapse. It is giving me a change to revisit my issues with weight and eating and to deal with it all over again, just at the point when I was feeling I had this problem licked. I think the relapse will help me reinforce the skills I have gained to manage my weight problem over the long term. I think without this period of time, I may be stalled in my progress for a long time.
To support my ongoing inner dialogue with myself and my body, I need to eat foods and take supplements that will support my brain and help me manage my cravings.
What are your struggles with setbacks and relapses? Leave a comment.