You were so good all week. But then you snuck a doughnut ... and then
another. To get back on track quickly, start here.
There's that dreaded point in every diet — for me, it's after the first 10
pounds — when you start to slack off a little. You skip lunch one Saturday, and
later that night at a restaurant with your husband, you're so ravenous that you
order the salad, the soup, the entrée, and two glasses of chardonnay.
Uh-oh, you think, I've blown it. And then you really blow it
— by sampling half the dessert cart. To avoid facing the bad news, you go
incommunicado with your scale. Feeling defeated, you begin to slack off even
more and, before you know it, those 10 pounds are back. Now you have to muster
the motivation to lose that stubborn weight all over again.
Can you say "yo-yo dieting"? It's a cycle, but it's not unbreakable.
The first step toward success: Learn how to deal with setbacks. "I always
tell people to 'fail fast' — the idea is to recognize your error but avoid
wallowing in it," says Holly Wyatt, M.D., who's with the National Weight
Control Registry (NWCR). "One mistake isn't going to reverse everything
you've worked for." Here, Dr. Wyatt and other weight-loss experts offer
quick fixes for seven common diet goofs, plus tips on how to avoid future
"I skipped breakfast"
Maybe you were in a hurry. Maybe you thought you could cut some calories.
But now it's 11 a.m., and you haven't eaten anything for 15 hours straight.
You're so famished, you can't decide whether to buy a bear claw at the bakery,
steal candy from your coworker's stash, or wait until lunch so you can pig out
at your favorite Chinese restaurant. "Breakfast is a must," says Dr.
Wyatt. "Otherwise, you'll end up wanting to eat everything you see." A
survey from NWCR, which tracks more than 5,000 people who have kept off at
least 30 pounds for a year or longer, found that 78 percent of participants
have a meal every single morning.
Eat something, but resist the junk food. You'll stay fuller longer if you
have fruit, low-fat yogurt, or string cheese. An energy bar will also do the
trick. But make sure you find one that has staying power — that means at least
3 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein, and less than 250 calories. Two of our
favorites: Clif's Mojo Fruit Nut Crunch Bar and PowerBar Nut Naturals.
Make breakfast simple. To guarantee you never skip this meal again, keep a
week's worth of easy eats in the house. A few good picks (which you can also
stash at the office for midday munchies): single-serve instant oatmeal
(McCann's Instant Irish Oatmeal has three sugar-free varieties — apple and
cinnamon, maple and brown sugar, and cinnamon roll); low-fat granola, which you
can mix with plain yogurt; and single-serving cans of light fruit (like Del
Monte's no-sugar-added pear chunks, only 40 calories). But beware of so-called
breakfast bars, which are often packed with sugar. Make sure you read the
labels carefully before you buy.
Eat every four hours during the day. That's about how much time it takes for
hunger to return after a meal, says Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., director of the
Weight Management Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. You'll
do far less damage if you have a small snack mid-morning and in the afternoon
than if you try to assuage your gnawing hunger at mealtimes, when the plates,
portions, and your appetite are all bigger.