There's that dreaded point in every diet when you start to slack off a little. You skip lunch, and later that night, you're so ravenous that you eat the most caloric foods you can find. Feeling defeated, you begin to slack off even more and, before you know it, you have to muster the motivation to lose that stubborn weight all over again.
It's a cycle, but it's not unbreakable. The first step: Learn how to deal with setbacks. "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) who gave us quick fixes for common diet goofs.
"I skipped breakfast"
"Breakfast is a must," says Dr. Wyatt. 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.
Fast Fix: Eat something, but resist junk food. You'll stay fuller longer if you have fruit, low-fat yogurt, or string cheese.
Next Time: 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, low-fat granola, which you can mix with plain yogurt, and single-serving cans of light fruit.
"I drank too much last night"
Most of us don't dance on the table after a few Long Island Iced Teas - we eat everything on it. Why? The body doesn't register liquid calories, so even if you drink 500 of them, you'll still crave food.
Fast Fix: Get some exercise. Taking a walk or a bike ride will shift your mind-set from I am a colossal boob to I'm back in the game!
Next Time: Pace yourself. "In calories, one Long Island Iced Tea is the equivalent of 26 fat-fried onion rings," says Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman's Diet. So make sure you drink water or seltzer - both zero calories - in between alcoholic drinks or substitute a less caloric cocktail. This will help you stave off excess calories, and save you from getting so drunk you binge eat.
"I haven't exercised in a week"
We understand - it's hard to get motivated after you've missed a few days of exercise. But those skipped days can easily turn into weeks, so it's important to start up again fast.
Fast Fix: "Go out and walk for 10 minutes," advises Dr. Wyatt. "Tell yourself you can stop at that point. Yes, you might quit in 10 minutes. But once you're out on the sidewalk, you'll probably keep walking."
Next Time: Buddy up. "If you have an exercise partner, it's easier to stay committed," says Dr. Wyatt. So enlist a friend to walk with you every day or visit walkers.meetup.com to find folks in your area.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.