Bouncing Back After Diet Slip-Ups

The Power of Resilience for Getting Back on Track

man looking in refrigerator
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Went a little overboard on beers and wings watching the game at the bar? Or maybe you just had to have another piece of cake? Whatever your food weakness, if you're trying to lose weight or just eat a more healthful diet, that change likely won't happen without a few slip-ups along the way.

5 Steps to Getting Back on Track

Resilience, the ability to recover quickly from difficulty, can be extremely useful when it comes to getting back on track.

This quality determines your response to life’s events, and how well you survive them. And there are specific steps you can take to strengthen your resilience so you’ll be able to flex it after any setback. Instead of being angry at yourself, follow these tips to cultivate resilience and get back on track.

1. Trace Your History

Recall some challenging times in life, diet-related or otherwise. How do you react to setbacks? Do you tend to throw caution to the wind and forget your goals altogether after one diet slip-up? How long does it take you to get back on your feet and convince yourself that you’re strong enough to keep going? Now, be real: How’s this coping style working for you? Recognizing how you usually act when things aren't going your way can help you shift gears and react differently next time.

2. Visualize Resilience

Think of the strongest person you know, who keeps moving no matter what, who stays positive even when nothing is going right.

This will work even better if the person has struggled with weight loss and healthy living themselves. Looking at qualities of resilience in someone else helps you see them more clearly. How do they stay so calm and cool? What’s their attitude about setbacks? After visualizing this person, try to emulate them.

3. Make a List

Compile things your resilience idols says and does during challenging times. Do they make certain assumptions about their own ability to lose weight or get in shape? Do they have a sense of humor? Do they get fired up? These are your clues to winning the health game.

4. Recall a Time When You Were Resilient

Ask yourself: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in life? How did you get through it? Write down any strategies you remember, and look for patterns. These ways of being and thinking will become the foundation of your own personal brand of resilience and strength, and can help you reach your weight loss goals.

5. Try Resilience for Yourself

If you had to pretend to be resilient today, what would that look like? Practice these thoughts and actions as you go throughout your day. Here are some hints:

  • Reach out to friends and family. When you’re having a hard time, it might be tempting to hide under a rock. Don’t. Call up a friend and be like, “I messed up and I’m pissed!” I guarantee they’ll launch into a story about a setback and how they handled it.
  • Make a plan. Setbacks can make you feel like all the work you did before is lost. It’s not. You still have a solid foundation to build on. Isolate the future from the past so you don’t feel held back. Plan your next healthy meal and move on.
  • Remember your goals. Chances are that your fitness goals weren’t going to happen overnight, anyway. How much did your bar binge really set you back, if at all? Give yourself a high-five for rising to every challenge.

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