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You know how everything is shiny and new when you first begin an exercise program or a eating plan?

At first, we’re focused. We do our homework, we buy all the right food, we make time for exercise, put it on our schedule so it gets done and we’re on our way. Things can go well for a few weeks and then, life calls. A child or aging parent is sick. Our boss suddenly becomes a clone for Jack Nicholson in The Shining and we’re working more overtime than we thought humanly possible.

Even happy occasions like planning a wedding or the holidays can also play havoc with our healthy plans.

The glow fades, we forget to schedule our exercise, we pick up whatever is quick and easy and maybe not so healthy at the store and suddenly we’re right back where we started, wishing we could lose weight, wishing we would exercise.

I’ve been there, more times than I can count.

Three years ago when I set out the lose weight and live healthier I was blessed to find a wise coach/nutritionist, who told me that one day I, who was losing pounds and inches just fine, thank you, would probably screw-up my eating plan and my exercise program.

I have to say I was taken aback.

Do you know of any weight loss method that tells you point-blank that YOU WILL SCREW UP?

“Trust me, it will happen,” she said, “but you can learn strategies to deal with it, get back on track and move on toward your goals.” From that point on, I was all the way in. I knew this time I was going to lose weight and keep it off. It was freeing to know that during stressful periods of my life I would know what to do.

In my opinion the entire weight loss industry is built on the principal that life WILL reach in and tarnish your new, shiny diet and exercise program. Only five percent of people who say they want to lose weight will actually do it AND keep it off.  I’m sorry but it’s true. (Be sure and check out the link below to learn how they do it.) The weight loss industry counts on our backsliding so we’ll continue to spend more money on their books, new programs and engineered food. Doesn’t that make you mad?

I’ve managed to maintain my fifty-plus pound weight loss for almost two years because I follow a program that works for me AND because I know how to manage setbacks. You don’t need more motivation or willpower, you need better strategies. The strategies for setbacks are simple.

Basically, there are three steps.

Step One: Learn How to Get Back On Track Right Away

Step Two: Learn Strategies to Prevent Screw-ups

Step Three: Identify Your High Risk Situations

Today we’ll cover Step One: Learn How To Get Back On Track Right Away and do Steps Two and Three in the coming weeks.  By the time the holidays roll around you’ll be ready to eat well, maintain your exercise program and deal with Aunt Jenny’s pecan pie.

1) The first step is to watch your words. Especially, negative automatic thoughts like, “I’ve eaten two slices of a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheese Cake Factory Cheesecake. I’m hopeless, I’ll never lose weight.”  Instead say; “I’m disappointed in myself but I’m going to stop now.”  You might think this is woo-woo stuff. Well, no. It’s acknowledging your frustration and working around it instead of eating the entire cheesecake. It’s acknowledging your disappointment and moving on instead of beating yourself up. Has beating yourself up for weight loss setbacks ever helped you get back to your goals?

2) Reach for a piece of paper and pen and make plans for your next healthy meal. Most people want to skip a meal after overeating.  Whether you realize it or not, this is a form of punishment and it leads to feeling deprived and could very well lead you to your next overeating episode. Stop, think, and pull out one of your favorite healthy recipes. Planning your next healthy meal gives you immediate control and makes you feel good.

3) Dispose of the Problem Food: You can flush it, mash it up in the disposal, throw it in the garbage or ask someone else to deal with it for you. Give it away.


1) Plan your next exercise session. Don’t make it difficult. Pick a convenient place and a convenient time, something that you know you will actually DO. Baby steps.

2) Set short-term goals. Exercising for ten minutes is better than no exercise and better than saying you’ll do twenty minutes and dreading it. The point is to associate the exercise with positive feelings NOT punishment.

3) Tell someone who wants you to succeed that you’re going to exercise today. That’s all. They don’t have to call you and make you accountable. Saying it aloud to someone who’s in your corner is enough.

4) Use visual imagery.  Imagine yourself having a positive, great workout.

5) Cut back slightly on intensity if you haven’t been exercising in a while.

6) Create goals in your planner or calendar for increasing your intensity and time gradually. SHINY NEW GOALS!  You’re back! Feel good about yourself!

7) Watch Your Words. Again, what we say to ourselves is so important. Tell yourself how much better you’re going to feel when you’re finished with your upcoming exercise session. Think of all the ways exercise is improving your heart, your lungs, your blood levels and your mood. It’s not all about your dress size:)

Remember, it doesn’t matter that you’ve had a setback it’s what you do afterward that counts.

Do you have strategies that help you? What doesn’t work?  Do you think these strategies could help you navigate the holidays and move around life’s curve-balls a little better? Tell me what you think.

Before I go, I want to leave you with some special links. Here’s the excellent post I mentioned at the beginning about the secrets of  people who have lost weight and maintained their weight loss over time. Pay special attention to Number 5. Five Secrets of the Top Five Percent

Eight Ways to Eat Healthy During The Holidays is a quick nifty slideshow with links to recipes and pics of yummy healthy holiday fare.

My favorite foodie magazine Clean Eating has a wonderful Holiday Recipe Slideshow too. You’ll feel healthier for just taking a look 🙂 Great for all healthy cooks and includes gluten-free, diabetic and vegan recipes as well.

Next week we’ll conquer Step Two: Learning To Prevent Set-backs

I hope you have a healthy, happy day!