How to keep a good thing going
You worked hard on making better eating choices and exercising. And for a few weeks or maybe a few months, you did well. You lost weight, felt better, and were sure that this time, your new and improved health habits were here to stay.
But then there was a big project at work that had you ordering in pizza at your desk rather than going out for a low-calorie lunch. Your children needed extra help with their homework, so your evening walks got put on the back burner. And before you know it, those hard-won healthy changes went by the wayside.
What happened? While you weren't looking, you slid right back into your old habits.
Habits, whether good or bad, are repeated patterns of behavior that we do without conscious thought, says Jo Anne White, PhD, a life coach and professor at Temple University in Philadelphia.
They key to changing habits and keeping them changed is to take conscious control, says White. To begin with, make a decision to change the defeating habit and set a specific date for when you'll begin. Then, write down and consider why you want to make the change.
"Once you've physically done something -- in this case, writing it down -- your action gives power to your mental commitment," says White. "It tells you: Now you're serious."
Making Better Choices
For many people, maintaining weight loss and fitness gains are harder than achieving them in the first place.
One of the most common reasons for relapsing is stress, says Malena Perdomo, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Family and work issues, or any major life change, can trigger a slide, says Perdomo. So can feeling bored, sad, or guilty.
"Become aware of the times you slip up," advises Rebecca "Kiki" Weingarten, MSEd, MFA, coach and co-founder of Daily Life Consulting in New York. "Stop for a second to see why you want to eat."
Ask yourself if you're really hungry, or need some comfort food, Weingarten says. If you really need an "emotional" snack, you don't have to deny yourself -- just make a better choice. Sucking on a piece a hard candy instead of downing an entire candy bar, for example, may do the trick. So may drinking a diet soda instead of a sugar-laden one.