Coming Back From Long Weekend “Setbacks”

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend!  I shot a video, Mindset Tips For Thanksgiving, last week on things to prepare for it so you could fully enjoy your holiday dinner while still sticking to your food plan.  It was all about how to keep on track with your weight management goals.  Hopefully you got through the weekend sticking to whatever your food plan was and felt great about it afterwards.  But that might not be the case. If so, what do you do in the future when there’s a setback from your goal?  Having worked with hundreds of clients over the years, I can assure you that you are not alone. I hear this all the time, check out my new video here: Learning from Thanksgiving Setbacks.

First of all, I always tell my clients, “it happens”. It’s all about HOW you look at it, and what you take away from the experience that makes all the difference.  You can either learn from it, setting yourself up to avoid a setup back again.  Or you can just add the event to the list of failed attempts where you did not stick to a plan and felt disappointed afterwards. If the later approach is more like you this is VERY common, again you’re not alone, people struggle with this all the time. We can often feel guilty, angry, frustrated, and even shame, experiencing all these toxic emotions after a setback like this.  

Breaking The Cycle
If you want to break this cycle here are some tips:

  • Change your “internal” message 
    If you are stuck in your head with the negative self talk it’s not going to serve any positive purpose at all. You are just beating yourself up and there’s nothing to be gained
  • Revisit the whole event to learn from it
    Say to yourself, “I’m going to learn something from this experience”.  I work with many clients who have experienced a setback using this approach. I start by asking them a series of questions which allows them to become less emotional and more analytical about what happened.  Then together we move towards problem solving strategies to prepare them for next time.

When it comes to developing strategies for successfully losing or maintaining weight you have to involve both the Body and the Mind.  

From a body standpoint ask yourself these few questions which may help you realize what was going on with your body and why it was difficult for you to stick with your food plan: 

  1. Were you very hungry before going to the event?
  2. Had you been eating a lot of food that was high in sugar or high in simple carbs that day or previous couple of days?
    If so, your blood sugar and insulin levels had been going up and down dramatically resulting in an increase in hunger and an increase in cravings for more of those types of food. Your body needs fuel and your body is going to respond accordingly which is going to affect your behaviour around food.
  1. Did you have a plan going into the event and were you prepared?
    Had you thought through what you could eat that was being served, what alternatives could you prepare and enjoy to replace high carb parts of the meal life stuffing, the potatoes, dessert?  If you didn’t make a plan, then you were taking your chances that somehow this time you would eat in a way that would support your goal.
  1. Where did the plan fall apart? 
    You made a plan but still went off track, take some time to analyze it.  First acknowledge what worked well and give yourself a pat on the back for that. Then look at the parts of the meal that didn’t go well. See what the challenges were and think about what you could do differently next time. 

Now let’s look at some mindset issues that may have resulted in you not being able to stick to your plan. Mindset is a huge factor in determining if you stay on plan or go off track. 

  1. Getting into the right mindset before the event
    To get into the right mindset make sure you are connected with the BIG picture of why you want to lose weight in the first first place?  If you are disconnected from that longer term goal, then the immediate excitement and pleasure from food will take over and run your behaviour as it relates to food.

    A great analogy for this is when a highly competitive athlete has an event coming up.  The athlete has done all their physical training to get ready but do they show up to the event thinking “hopefully this works out?”  No –  they don’t leave it to chance.  They visualize themselves in the competition, mentally run through their strategies so when it comes to “game time” they are very focused and connected with their desired goal.  This is often referred to as being In The Zone.  So ask yourself, were you in the zone last weekend, or did you lose sight of your goal and it’s importance?
  2. Identify the triggers around poor food choices.
    Take some time now to look back at challenging times when you went off track, having a second portion of desert, eating lots of appetizers or eating a double portion of stuffing. What was going on mentally or emotionally with you in that moment or leading up to it? Were you caught up in the celebration and feeling like you deserved a reward.  Maybe you had a rough few days or weeks and you wanted to treat yourself?

    It is completely fine to recognize when you feel you need a reward, a treat and some TLC but if you have a pattern of using food for that reward, it’s much more difficult to say no.  Recognizing the triggers and finding other ways of dealing with them prior to the event will make it much easier for you to stick with your food plan.  

This is a powerful step in becoming mindful about the choices you are making with food.  Even if you cannot do it in that moment taking the time to do it afterwards will help you manage your behaviour differently next time.

A setback doesn’t need to be the end of the world and just another “mistake”  to add to the list of setbacks you’ve had in the past.  A setback with your food plan can be a gift, believe it or not.  Once you learn to reflect on it afterwards and learn from it.  Then you can develop strategies to set yourself up going forward preventing the repetition of the behavioural patterns that have been obstacles in the past.

Take some time now that the Thanksgiving weekend is still fresh in your mind, reflect back on what happened, if it did not go as planned.  Make a list of what went well and give yourself a pat on the back.  Look at where you could have done better.  Then really dig a little deeper to tease apart what led up to you going off track from a BodySet and a Mindset point of view.  Finally make a plan for what you can do differently next time. 

If you are interested to learn more about me and my approaches to weight management join my Facebook community: FastLane Mind Body Reset Mastery Group