Dealing with Slip-Ups.

For anyone who has ever been trying to eat healthier, or follow a specific diet, the slip-ups are a part of the journey.
Very few people are perfect in any area of life, and weight loss can be especially difficult due to the emotions involved with eating. Simply accepting that slip-ups are normal and a temporary set-back, rather than viewing them as ‘the end’, can be beneficial in helping you to get back on track quickly!

Many people regard dieting as a test of willpower. This approach is unlikely to work, because every time you have a slip-up, it reinforces in your mind that you ‘have no willpower’. Rather than being reliant on willpower, why not look at skill power? Your weight loss journey is an opportunity to develop skills which will last a lifetime.

Think about learning any new skill: In the beginning you’re bound to make mistakes, but the lessons you learn from these mistakes get you closer to mastering the skill. Over time, you are able to think about it less as the skills are learnt, but still the occasional mistake is made. Ultimately the skill is learnt, and it becomes part of natural behavior, where you are able to complete the skill whilst focusing on other things.

Imagine if, in the process of learning to drive a car, you stalled the car and so gave up learning to drive. You would never have given yourself the opportunity to learn and would still be catching the bus wherever you needed to go. Most people are able to pick themselves up after a minor slip-up and simply try again. Learning how to adopt a new eating pattern and lose weight should be no different.

Remember that old habits and behaviors will take some time to change, and you may have done really well for weeks or even months, only to have something happen in your life and those old habits reappear. This is normal! Accept the slip-up, re-focus on your goals and get back onto your eating plan, and the slipup will become nothing more than a memory from which you were able to learn. Give yourself a pat on the back for recognizing it as such.

The key is to realise that the slip-up itself is unimportant. What is important is how you deal with
it; and whether you blow it out of proportion. When blown out of proportion, the slip-up becomes a major set-back which you take to reflect on you personally. The risk is negative self-talk, such as “I’m hopeless. I’ll never lose weight. I may as well not even try.” This self-doubt and lack of confidence is often enough to make you stop even trying to lose weight. A small slip-up can in this way lead to a major slide.

So, imagine telling a friend about your slip-up. What would they say? Almost certainly they would speak with positive language, and not tell you that you are hopeless; they would be able to see the slip-up in its true perspective. After a slip-up, try having the discussion in your mind that you might have with a friend. It could go something like this:
You: “I did the wrong thing. I’m hopeless.”
Friend: “It was just a small piece of cake. Forget it and get back on your plan.”
You: “But I’ve blown it. I can never stick to a plan. I always fail.”
Friend: “It was one mistake, and it’s done. Now you can focus on all the things you did well today rather than the one thing where you slipped-up. Learn from it. What will you do differently next time?”

When you recognize that you are starting to place too much importance on a slip-up, it’s time to distract yourself. Go for a walk, paint your fingernails, phone a friend – anything to help you to stop thinking about this one small event.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t take it all too seriously. Your weight loss journey is but a part of your life, not the only thing. A slip-up is a minor event in your life, your week, and even your day, so don’t over-emphasize its importance. Say to yourself: “Hey, I made a mistake. Big deal! I’m not perfect. Now I can get back on track and lose some more weight”.

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