Monday, June 8, 2015

Four Culprits of Relapse: Why we fall off the wagon with healthy habits, and how to get back on!

We've all been there - we start a great nutrition plan, exercise plan, and lifestyle plan - we're excited, happy and doing well, and then...something happens.  We look up one day and realize that somewhere along the line we fell off the wagon.  Our great new habits have slipped away.  We beat ourselves up, feel discouraged, want to give up.  We might even wonder what is wrong with us.

Well, good news.  Nothing is wrong, we're simply human.  We're not perfect, but we DON'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT.   In fact, perfection can be a trap.  I recently heard Christiane Northrup say "Perfectionism is the excuse we use to not do something."  Great point!  Let's all DROP the goal of being 'perfect', and reset our goals:  BE GOOD ENOUGH, OFTEN ENOUGH, TO BE HEALTHY AND HAPPY.

And let's stop beating ourselves up!  The successful 'big losers and maintainers' in the National Weight Control Registry teach us that successful healthy weight is achieved not by being perfect, but by planning ahead to 'screw up' - and also planning to get back on track.   An insightful patient once told me, "I finally get it - everyone falls off the wagon.  Then we have a choice - climb back on the wagon, or let it run over us!  I won't let the wagon run over me any more."

When our patients 'fall off the wagon', we pull out a worksheet called - you guessed it - "Four Culprits of Relapse".  It is an outline which helps us work together to identify obstacles to success, and then create plans to overcome the challenges, and get back on track.  Here is our worksheet:

Four Culprits of Relapse!
1.  The Creep:  Old habits which creep back!   It’s human nature for old tendencies and patterns to creep back when we’re ‘not looking’! Hidden calories can creep back, exercise can creep down, etc.   We face an ‘obesogenic’ environment, which means that if we don’t stay on top of things, with support, the Creep can get us!.  The Fix:   Go back to what works!  It worked before, it will work again.   We’ll be your support team (and help with accountability!) Put yourself back on top of your priority list!

2.  The “Catastrophe”:  Any big change which throws you off your healthy routine! (Can be a good change or bad change.)   It’s human nature to go back to ‘default mode’ when we’re off track, or face change or stress - and that often means old unhealthy patterns. If we get stressed or sick, we might let go of exercise, or pre-planning, etc.  The Fix:  If it’s a short term disruption, don’t panic, ride it out, and go back to what worked before. If it’s a long-term, ongoing change or challenge, then create a new plan to address.  We’ll help set up your new plan. Another type of “catastrophe” - eating “addictive foods” (during holidays, trips, etc) which trigger cravings for more.  Sugary-fatty foods are the worst culprits.  The Fix: “Lock down” clean and simple eating - and be aware that it can take three or more days for your brain to ‘calm down’ and be ‘free’ of intense cravings.   

3.  Eeyore:  Fatigue, which can be mental or physical, such as fatigue from lack of sleep, or stress or illness, or depression, or loss of motivation. The Fix:  Identify the cause, and ‘fix’ it!  We’ll help! Physical ailments such as prediabetes, metabolic syndrome, low vitamin D, hypothyroidism, etc, depression, anxiety, insomnia, arthritis, etc, need to be addressed.  If stress or sleep are challenges, we’ll help with strategies and stress- reduction techniques, such as meditation (check out the app: Headspace).  Get re-motivated by focusing on your goals - what you REALLY want- such as feeling strong, healthy, in control, being a role model,  and having as full a life as possible!

4.  The Inner Baby/Inner Needs:  Unmet needs in our life.   We all have multiple ‘needs’ which need to be fullfilled:  time alone  (introvert needs), time with others/socializing (extrovert needs), spiritual needs, creative needs, need to feel connected to something larger than ourselves, need to feel we are contributing, etc.  It’s easy to make the mistake of EATING to try to fill those needs - but remember “If the inner baby is crying, she/he might not need food, maybe there is a different need.”  Figuring out what we REALLY need can take a little time and reflection.

It can be a challenge to identify and analyze the Four Culprits, and more of a challenge to come up with solutions.  And even MORE of a challenge to keep the solutions going!  We can help with all those steps.

Give us a call at (603) 379-6500, and learn more about our program at

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