Lapses can happen to anyone who’s making healthy changes. After identifying factors leading to a lapse, it’s time to address them. It can be exciting to find solutions! Let’s go over common barriers and brainstorm ways to address them.
A change of attitude can stop feelings of deprivation. Feeling deprived stems from noticing what you cannot have: “I cannot have dessert.” “I cannot grab a burger and fries with coworkers.” “I cannot go out to eat with friends and family and order the same foods and beverages I used to have.”
A more positive outlook can help reduce or prevent feelings of deprivation. Rather than each change being a negative thing, it can be a positive thing. For example, now, “I can try fruit with nuts or cheese for dessert,” or, “I can look for a grilled chicken salad when I am out with coworkers, and “I can look for new menu options when I’m out with friends and family.”
A planned “cheat meal” weekly or every so often can also help by providing an opportunity to have whatever it is that you are craving, without going overboard or feeling guilty. It can be a fun exercise to think of the strongest craving you have, plan when you will indulge yourself, and figure out what you will have at your next meal as you get right back on the program.
Life includes getting busy and being on the receiving end of curveballs, but there are ways to stay healthy throughout it. If time is an issue, there may be ways to save time by doubling up on tasks. For example, walking to the store or post office with a family member or friend lets you get in your social time while accomplishing an errand while getting in some activity. Or, cycling or lifting weights at home while quizzing your kids on material for their upcoming exams lets you get in a workout while supporting your children.
At this time, it may be helpful to reassess goals. It can take the pressure off to change an aggressive weight loss goal to one that is easier to hit, or to focus for a while, instead of on weight loss, on making healthy choices, such as eating more vegetables, cutting back on red meat, or drinking more water.
Being hungry gets old fast, but it may not be necessary even if you’re trying to lose weight. If you suspect that you are in a lapse because you are always hungry and are eating too much because of it, these may be some questions to ask yourself.
Are you drinking plenty of water?
Do vegetables make up most of your plate at most meals?
Are your protein sources plant-based, such as beans, nuts, soy, and lentils, or lean, such as reduced-fat dairy products, eggs, skinless chicken, and fish?
Do you get at least six servings per day of high-fiber foods, such as vegetables, whole grains, whole fruit, beans, and nuts?
Do you keep most meals free from sugary, fried, and highly processed foods?
If the answer is “no” to any of them, you may have a lead on how you might get out of your lapse. These behaviors can help reduce hunger so it is easier to eat less and to choose more nutritious, lower-calorie foods.
Motivation waxes and wanes. It may have been at a high point when you started your health journey, but decreased gradually since that time. Eventually, motivation could be low enough to allow lapses in healthy choices. A good way to boost motivation may be to think back to why you started wanting to make healthy changes in the first place. Was it to…?
Lower risk for type 2 diabetes or other chronic conditions?
Lose weight or prevent regain?
Increase your chances of being around to see your children or grandchildren grow up?
Make yourself or your friends, doctor, or family members proud?
Gain enough fitness to complete a 5k or keep up on a family vacation?
It can help to try to try to update your motivational factors. For example, a new goal might be to go scuba diving with your significant other next summer, or to eat at least 3 servings of vegetables a day at least 5 days a week. The more reasons you have to live healthy, the easier it can be to make the “right” decision when the moment comes to make a choice.
Caving into Temptation
There is a two-pronged attack that you can use to fight temptation. First, is it possible to limit exposure to temptations? That could mean sitting further away from the refreshments at parties and meetings, and placing leftovers and snack foods in the back of the fridge and pantry so you do not see them as often. Making and sticking to a shopping list makes it easier to avoid supermarket aisles with less-healthy foods. In addition, driving different routes to avoid favorite drive-throughs and take-out joints can reduce the chances of picking up unhealthy foods en route to your next destination.
The second prong of this attack is to have alternatives available. That can mean stashing healthy snacks at work to have during meetings or when others are ordering less-healthy food, and putting healthy snacks in sight in the fridge and pantry so you reach for them before other, less-healthy foods. Examples include fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, nuts, cottage cheese, canned tuna, and cooked chicken breast.
Getting more sleep is so simple, but so many people have trouble getting enough. The truth is that it can be hard to set aside enough time for sleep, develop an effective bedtime routine, and create a sleep-conducive bedroom environment. Still, benefits can include reduced hunger, fewer cravings, lower blood sugar, more energy, and increased focus. Shutting off screens 30 minutes before bed, being disciplined about getting into bed on time, and establishing a relaxing routine to wind down before bed can help. In addition, tracking sleep can be motivating.
Are you ready to get started? Now that you know what may be holding you back and some ways you may be able to get over those obstacles, it is time to make a plan to get started.
How Lark can help
Weight management and healthy living are easier when you have the resources you need. Lark offers tools and support. Your Lark coach is available 24/7 for nutrition and physical activity coaching and tracking. Lark can help you make healthy choices and establish habits that fit into your lifestyle so you can manage weight and stay active.
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Lark helps you eat better, move more, stress less, and improve your overall wellness. Lark’s digital coach is available 24/7 on your smartphone to give you personalized tips, recommendations, and motivation to lose weight and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.