When following a weight-loss program, it’s not uncommon to fall off track. Diets are tough, and life gets in the way. And once that momentum is lost, it can be difficult to get back to following the plan. For most, it’s not as simple as just waking up the next day and starting the plan again. Here are my best practices to rebooting your diet when you’ve fallen off the wagon.
Week 1: Stop the Reverse
Consider following a plan to be a giant steam engine locomotive pulling a massive train in the direction of your goals (Goalsville Station?). When you’re in the middle of a week where you haven’t been able to say no to your favorite snacks or wine at night, that train isn’t just not moving forward, it’s going in reverse.
If our goal is to get the train moving in the right direction, the first thing we need to do is throw the brakes on and stop it from moving in the wrong direction. Rather than trying to go from a week-long french fry bender to a goal of eating meals that are perfectly on plan each night, your week one goal should be just slowing down things that have you headed in the wrong direction. Make your goal to just avoid the habits you want to avoid, while not stressing about adding in the habits you want to bring back (like tracking your food) just yet.
Week 2: Slowly Chugging In the Right Direction
Now that you’ve reduced the frequency of your undesired habits, devote your energy in week two to bringing back an easy version of your desired habits. If it’s food tracking, resolve to track all of your food, but not stress about hitting certain targets. If your ultimate goal is eating protein at every meal, aim to include it at least at dinner each night. Of course, if on any day this week you want to go for extra credit and achieve more challenging goals, go for it! But don’t feel guilty if you only achieve the week’s goal of an easy version of your target habits.
Week 3: Full Steam Ahead
By week three, you’re now two weeks removed from reducing bad habits, and you have an excellent foundation from the week prior of practicing your desired habits. Now it’s time to get that train going at full speed. Crank up your easy habits from last week into your full-fledged version this week. You’re now back on plan and on your way to Goalsville!
The overall theme here is to be patient with yourself. No one ever prefers to achieve their goals later rather than sooner, but if you rush back into a challenging set of habits, you’ll endure weeks (maybe months) of false starts. Instead, using the above method to take two weeks to ease back will save you a ton of mental anguish, and ensure that in a relatively short period of time, you’ll get momentum back on your side and back into the groove of following your plan.
To your velocity,
PS - I’m pleased to announce our gym, Activate Body, has been nominate by the Baltimore Sun for their Best of Baltimore award. If you’ve had a great experience at Activate Body and would like to vote for us to, here’s the link. Thanks so much for your support!