You have decided to start a weight loss program and you are following your food plan and exercise program. You are doing great. You are losing between half a kilo and a kilo a week consistently. You have never felt better and people are starting to compliment you. 8 weeks into your program, you visit your doctor and he is amazed. He rarely has seen cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar drop so dramatically without medication. He asks you about your program and is impressed with the combination of diet, exercise and changing habits. And you continue on your way, losing weight every week, and following your plan to the letter—
You have had a bad day, you are overwhelmed and there is just no time to exercise. And then the stresses just pile up and you think that the solution for all of your problems is in the pint of ice cream in your freezer, so you eat it—the WHOLE thing. Now Shabbos comes and since you didn’t exercise, went off your food program and feel like you have just thrown all of your hard work away, you overeat and help yourself to more dessert than you are allowed on your daily caloric intake. Your brain is thinking, “may as well, I blew it big time!” But now you face your single biggest choice since your turned your life around—am I going to put this behind me and get back on track, or am I going to throw it all away?
We are all human. We all have to make choices daily and sometimes we all make mistakes—ALL OF US! So how do we handle mistakes? Perfectionists bring unattainable demands on themselves and end up as unhappy people because they can rarely reach the levels they have laid out for themselves. Are mistakes something which will cause us to lose perspective and go off the deep end or is a mistake something to learn from, put behind us, and get back on track?
Unsuccessful dieters (this group is very, very large-an overwhelming majority of about 95%) don’t get back on track, they do exactly the opposite. They lose perspective and then they make poor decisions. According to Cognitive Behavioral Psychologist Dr. Judith Beck, they often tell themselves, This is terrible! I’m so weak! I lost control1 I can’t believe I did that! I might as well give up and eat whatever I want for the rest of the day, because starting tomorrow, I’ll have to cut my calories way back and deprive myself! What is interesting is that people trying to lose weight can be very rational and reasonable in other areas of their lives, but when they go off of their food program, they may end up compounding the first mistake with another and another.
Dr. Beck writes that in order to lose weight successfully, one must learn how to stop yourself at the first mistake, put it in perspective, and recommit yourself right away. It is, after all, a mistake, and that is all it is, so keep it in proportion. So when the inevitable happens and you’ve eaten an entire box of cookies and you have missed consecutive days of even minimal exercise, just write yourself a note that says “Get Back on Track”—read it a few times and hang it up in a place where you will see it when you wake up the next morning and you just simply get back on your program.
There is always a temptation to do something radical after you’ve gone off. Not eating the next half day, going on a juice fast, taking off of work or Kollel and running for 5 hours—DON’T! Just get back on the program—the scale may take a day, or two or three to reverse, but it will and you will be back to good eating and exercise and that is always what works the best for slow, sustained and permanent weight loss. Remember that we have mentioned many times that only 5% of the population really keep off their weight and they have 5 things in common and pay close attention to number 5:
- Successful dieters solicit help. They look for “diet” and exercise buddies and they are verbal about what they are doing. They share their progress with their family and friends.
- They pay attention to what they are doing. The one thing all weight loss experts agree on is that planning and tracking your food and exercise is an invaluable tool. It creates mindfulness and awareness. These 5% don’t rely on chance. They understand what a portion is, either though measuring or eyeballing, but they know. And those portions are kept under control and done so without feeling deprived.
- They make weight loss a positive experience. They are optimistic and having positive affirmations about your new way of life will only bring greater and better success. They enjoy what they are doing and reap the fantastic benefits of living a healthier and longer life.
- They make gradual changes. These 5% know that this is no instant fix. They know that permanent change is gradual and it is a process. Too much, too soon is doomed to failure. So they take one step at a time.
- They are realistic and know we are human beings and we all make mistakes. They do their best and when things go wrong, they go back to their program. Each mistake should be another step to success. All or nothing won’t work. They get back on track every time.
So no matter how many programs you’ve been on and how many times you’ve failed in the past GET BACK ON TRACK! Getting back on track will “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.”
Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a BEHAVIORAL CHANGE and WELLNESS COACH with over 19 years of professional experience. Alan is the creator and director of the “10 Weeks to Health” program for weight loss. He is available for private coaching sessions, consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs both in his office and by telephone and skype. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Check out the his web site –www.alanfitness.com US Line: 516-568-5027.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.