Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size
A
A
A

Don't Fall Back into Bad Habits

How to keep a good thing going
By
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Exclusive Feature

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.

"You don't have to stop enjoying your life," says Weingarten. "You just have to substitute new, positive habits for old, negative ones."

In fact, Howard Shapiro, MD, author of the Picture Perfect Weight Loss series, believes that the fastest way to fall into bad diet habits is by depriving yourself of your favorite foods. Shapiro says it's not so much about dieting as training yourself to make smarter choices.

Craving ice cream? Instead of opting for a cup of ice cream with 300 calories, have a fudgsicle for just 40 calories. Need a carb fix? Instead of a bagel with butter for 640 calories, try two slices of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and a cup of fruit, all for 370 calories.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

vegetables
Video
feet on scale
Blog
 
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Article
Hot cup of coffee
Quiz
 
pantry
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens