Picture this: you are doing really well, lost some weight, you feel in control and then something takes you off-plan. No biggie, right? But, now that you’ve gone off plan you find that this one slip-up has turned into a cycle of off plan eating. Maybe you went to a party and were really tempted by the desserts so you have one. No problem except that the next day you find that you feel like a bagel or pancakes for breakfast and no all of a sudden this need to go off plan is snowballing and so you are having trouble sticking to your plan and now the scale is going the other way!
Why do we struggle with this? How can we turn this one cheat into a one and done?
Here are some reasons we may have trouble getting back to plan:
Adding too much variety back into your meal plan: after reaching a milestone or as a result of just feeling great (and getting a little cocky with your bad self) you decide to eat one cookie every night. Why not? You feel in control and what’s one cookie in the evening? So you buy the box of cookies and then decide that dessert on the weekends might be nice. Studies show that when we are presented with a larger variety of foods we tend to eat more. As a coach for over 10 years, I can attest to something else: when that variety includes heavily processed foods (or just too many carbs from whatever source) our cravings will come back and you may find yourself back on the diet merry go round. If you are feeling deprived or simply want to add in some treats, here are two suggestions that might help you conquer feelings of deprivation while keeping you on plan for the long term: be sure you have reached some sort of personal milestone so that you’ve given yourself a chance to feel the benefits of low carb living. Once cravings are under control then adding back small amounts of carbs is ok as long as you do so methodically. Generally, unplanned treats are providing way too big a blast of carbs will throw off your metabolism so that the cravings return. Nothing wrong with going off plan here and there but adding too much at one time will get you right back to the vicious cycle of on/off dieting and will prevent you from gaining momentum and reaching your goal.
Lack of consistency when low carb dieting: when you begin to lower your carb intake to adequately match your energy needs the cravings do dissipate, however, when you are inconsistent with this you may find yourself in no man’s land. The cravings will not dissipate and you will not experience the benefit of low carb living. In addition, if you are striving for ketosis, you will not get past the keto flu because you are not allowing your body to adjust to the plan. You may be experiencing symptoms of keto flu and then eating carbs to lessen the symptoms. This is very common when people try ketosis without adequate knowledge or support. Don’t add back treats until you have reached a personal milestone (10 pounds etc) so that you can enjoy a treat with intention and have a plan (and the willpower) to get right back to your eating plan.
Negative self-talk: Much of weight loss success is due to your mindset. Staying aware of the chatter between your ears is essential to staying on plan and exhibiting resilience when things go wrong. Let’s face it, habits are hard to break and thought patterns will rear their ugly heads from time to time.
Here are some examples of negative self-talk or mindsets that are unproductive: feeling afraid of hunger. Perhaps you are a busy woman who has a hard time making good choices on the run and so you choose whatever is in front of you in order to avoid the inevitable hunger from not eating. Or, perhaps you have a fear of hunger (this might not be at top of consciousness…just way back in the background of your mind) and this causes you to eat more than you need at each meal. Planning out and preparing your meals will be huge in avoiding high-risk situations (grabbing donuts at work instead of planning a healthy lunch) as will simply asking yourself, whats the worst that would happen if I experienced hunger? As long as you do not struggle with blood sugar imbalance, a little hunger will not hurt us and we need to be more logical in our thinking. Becoming more aware of your signals of hunger/fullness and using your common sense to help get through these irrational thoughts will do the trick here.
Another example of negative self-talk is a lack of confidence that you can achieve your goal. “I’m never gonna do this…I’ve been heavy all this time, I just can’t do it.” So it turns into what-the-hell thinking…I’ll just eat the pie because I’m tired of working this hard. Why me? Another example of negative self-talk is frustration. Perhaps you are going through menopause and you’re having difficulty losing weight so you just give up. Now you are problem focused and have lost touch with the thinking that produces solutions. Instead of focusing on problems or unproductive thoughts, create the habit of catching this pattern of thinking and turning it around by asking yourself a simple question: is this helpful?
We all have stories and thought patterns on continuous loop; perhaps we’ve let go of this for a while because we’re getting the support and inspiration we need to feel hopeful, but once you’ve lost some weight you may have stopped utilizing this resource. Staying cognizant of the chatter between your ears and learning about techniques to intercept this thought pattern will help you avoid the diet merry go round and help get you back to plan as quickly as possible.
I hope this information has given you some insight into why you may be experiencing the dreaded diet merry-go-round. Feel free to reach out with questions or click here for a free consultation.