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Hi Readers, I’m so sorry if you’re getting this blog post twice. I sent it on Dec 3rd and tonight while I was working on a new post, I realized that this post disappeared. Poof, gone! The strange thing is, I received the e-mail that it had been pubbed and  my friend Patricia Sands tweeted it (thx Patricia!) and I also received LIKE notices. Weird. So here it is again for those of you who didn’t get the chance to read it. Thanks for your patience.

Much of this post is from a post I wrote last year called The Set-back Strategy. I retooled it, thinking it might be helpful for all the upcoming feasting and busyness that comes with the holiday season.

When we first begin a new exercise program or a new diet everything is shiny and new.

At first, we’re focused. We do our homework, we buy all the right food, we make time for our exercise, put it on our schedule and we’re on our way. Things will go well for a few weeks, a few months maybe, and then, life calls. A child or aging parent is sick.  Our boss 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 shiny begins to fade, we forget to schedule our exercise, we pick up whatever’s 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. The holidays are a minefield of busyness and overindulgence.

Four years ago when I set out the lose weight and live healthier I was blessed to find a wise coach/nutritionist, who casually told me that I would probably screw-up my eating plan AND my exercise. I was taken aback. I’d just celebrated four months of success!

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

“Trust me, it will happen,” she said, “but you can learn strategies to deal with set-backs and you can get back on track and start moving toward your goals again.”

After I got over my initial shock, knowing I would have set-backs and be able to fix them gave me confidence to keep going when things got rough. Fear of failure is a big inhibitor to success. My coach was telling me it was ok to fail and made sure I had the tools I needed to fix it.

This is exactly what our favorite protagonists do. Screw up something badly, form a plan to fix the situation, often with a word or two from a wise mentor, and turn around and learn or grow from it. The struggle is worth watching/reading as long as the hero learns how to move on and overcome the villain and their inner demons. It’s why we cheer at the end! Reading about a flawed hero or heroine who overcomes his troubles makes for good fiction and it’s also good for real life and healthy lifestyles too.

Drop the perfectionism and the fear. Here are some tools for you next healthy lifestyle set-back.


1) Watch your words: Especially, negative automatic thoughts like, “I’ve eaten a half a Cheese Cake Factory cheesecake. I’m hopeless.”  Instead say; “I’m disappointed in myself but I’m going to stop now.”

2) 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. I do this A LOT. If it can be frozen, I freeze it. But if no one wants to take home the last two slices of Aunt Edna’s double chocolate fudge cake, it’s outta here as soon as the last guest pulls out of the driveway.  I find it very empowering to dump trigger foods down the disposal. I always tell the disposal “better you than me” Just try it.

4) Know your trigger foods. If you must have them in the house put them somewhere out of your line of sight. I often put things I can’t look at without sampling in a cupboard in the basement or I freeze it. THIS WORKS.

If you know, like me, that Aunt Edna’s left-over cake is going to wake you up in the middle of the night with a come hither glance, GET RID of it immediately. If you waffle and decide to save it, telling yourself it’s for a friend who might stop over tomorrow or your hubby, you’re headed for trouble.  You’ll wake up around 1 A.M. and walk all the way to the kitchen to get a sip of water and eat both slices before the sun rises. I know it, you know it. Get real with yourself and your trigger foods. Open your garbage can and bury troublesome left-overs under the coffee grounds. Empowering!


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.

2) Set short-term goals. Exercising for ten minutes is better than none and better than saying you’ll do twenty 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. You can send me an e-mail at katemacnicol@hughes.net

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 then create goals in your planner or calendar for increasing your intensity and time gradually.

7) Watch Your Words. I know this is on the list twice but 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.

Remember, it doesn’t matter that you’ve had a set-back it’s what you do afterward that counts.  So go ahead and make those goals to improve your health and feel the confidence that comes from knowing that you also have a battle plan to fight back when things get tough.

Did I miss something? Let me know if you have any strategies to share and how you’re faring with all the holiday festivities.

Have a happy healthy day!