I have to tell you a harsh truth about losing weight; at some point, you’re going to fall off the wagon.
You’ll be chugging along on your plan, losing weight steadily, and then life will happen. Maybe it’s a birthday or anniversary celebration, an illness in the family, or extra stress at work while working on a big project. One day you’re faithfully tracking your calories, staying on your plan, and losing weight, and the next thing you know, you’re not.
You’re eating all the cookies, chips, soda, and high-calorie foods that you know you shouldn’t. They taste good, but you kinda hate yourself for it.
One day off-plan is an anomaly. If it lasts more than a week, you’ve officially fallen off the weight-loss wagon. I hate to be the one to have to break it to you, but it’s a harsh truth of weight loss. If you’re off plan for too long, you lose the good habits that we’re working for you and slip into complacency that caused you to gain weight in the first place.
The good news is that you can get back on the wagon. The fact that you’re here, reading this article, means that you still care about achieving your weight loss goals. You fundamentally know that you still want to continue losing weight, and you don’t want to go back to the “before.” You know where you want to end up and what that “after” will look like.
So What Are You Going to Do?
You’re going to Start Over, starting NOW. That’s what you’re going to do!
The big question is: How? How are you going to start over when you feel hopelessly off-track and guilty about going off-plan in the first place? How are you going to start over when it suddenly feels so hard to get on a plane?
You need a boost — a push. You need support. Fortunately, you’re here!
You need to re-establish the habits that support your weight loss and the achievement of your goals. You need to reassess your motivation, and you need to prepare yourself for long-term success.
Now, you’re probably expecting me to tell you just to buck up and get off your ass. But I’m not going to do that. Most conventional weight loss wisdom boils down to willpower; either you have it or don’t.
It is WRONG.
Will-power can only last you so long. This kind of faux-wisdom is why you ended up falling off the wagon in the first place. So instead of relying on a failing source of energy (willpower), we’re going to build systems and strategies around us that will hold up for the long haul. This structure of support will sustain your weight loss and weight maintenance indefinitely. That is how you lose weight and KEEP IT OFF.
“But how can I do that?”
Excellent question. Here’s how:
Seven Steps to Getting Back on Track When You Fall Off the Wagon
✅ Clean Out Your Fridge and Pantry
Make your fridge and pantry a safe zone. Get rid of anything that keeps you from achieving your goals. If you bought 22 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to support your cousin’s daughter’s troop’s goals (Yes, I did that), for example, it’s time to divide and conquer. Give away anything that is too tempting to resist. Take it to work. Throw it away. Get it out of your space.
✅ Stock Up on Lifesaver Snacks That Help You Stay on Track
Go grocery shopping and buy an assortment of fruits and vegetables that you enjoy eating, along with other low-calorie snacks to keep you on the plan between meals. I call them “lifesaver” snacks for a good reason!
✅ Review Your Weight Loss Plan
Revisit the parameters of your plan. If you’re using a calorie tracker like MyFitnessPal as I do, make sure your calories are set at a realistic level. If you’re unsure where to start, put your weight loss goal to 0.5-1 lb/week. Attempting to go too fast, too hard, will get you right back here again in a couple of weeks. Seriously, 0.5-1 lb/week.
✅ Goals. Where Do You Want to Be?
It’s time to set some new goals from where you are right now. If you gained a few pounds back while being off the wagon, put that behind you. I know it sucks to have to “lose those pounds again,” but you have to let that go. Your weight right now is your new starting weight. Set your goals from HERE. If you’re not sure where to start, your first goal is to lose 5 pounds. Just five. That’s totally doable! Set some short, medium, and long-term goals and visualize where you want to be. Get excited about it!
✅ Motivation. Why Do You Want to Lose Weight?
It’s time to reassess your motivation from where you are right now. If you’ve already seen improvements in your medical/health problems from losing a few pounds, maybe you want to see more. Perhaps you’re closer but not quite into the clothing size, you’d like to wear. Maybe you’re a couple of months away from a big event. Whatever it is that motivates you, write it down!
✅ Gather your tools and supplies
If your scale retreated from its prominent position in the bathroom to the back of the closet while you were off the wagon, it’s time to bring it out again. Please put it back in its place at the forefront of your space and your mind. Put your food scale back on the kitchen counter, so it’s easily accessible when you’re preparing your meals and snacks. Gather your measuring cups and spoons. Put your FitBit (or another smartwatch) back on.
✅ Get Support
It is probably one of the most challenging steps for most of us, but it doesn’t have to be. Support can come from a variety of sources. Family and friends are essential, but getting involved in the weight loss community is also helpful. If family and friends are derailing your weight loss efforts, it’s time to put your foot down and stand up for what you need. Set boundaries if you need to. Find your champion, your cheerleader, the person who builds you up and makes you feel like you can conquer the world. If you examine your social circle and find that you need extra help, consider a personal weight loss coach to help keep you on track.
You’re now prepared to restart your weight loss plan! Congratulations! It is the beginning of a new phase in your weight loss. Ready, set, go! ?