Join Date: May 2004
It does happen to a lot of us, more than once! Breaking old habits, old ways of living and being and coping with the world, is hard. It takes time. One of the things that causes so many people to stumble is thinking that they should just be able to *switch!* habits and feelings and attitudes, just like turning off and on a faucet. Some people can do that, but not everyone.
What you experienced is very common. You do well for a while, then you slide off your program. I've lost 144 pounds in the last 3 years, and I still have a ways to go. I'm not perfect, and I've had lots of slips, but I just keep chugging along, climbing back on the wagon, backtracking if necessary, and just trudge down the path. Of course you want to get to a point where you don't fall off the wagon as frequently. But, while you work on that, just be sure to climb back on as soon as possible while you work things out.
Outsmarting frequent slips has a couple of basic components to me. First, you gotta figure out exactly why you slipped. Then, you have to strategize and develop practical solutions to those circumstances when they happen again.
You said you were hungry, then you started thinking about things that would taste good. Were you actually, physically hungry? That's the first, most important question to ask. If so, then we'll deal with that. If not -- if you just felt the pull of old habits or had food cravings -- then that's a different problem with a different solution. And, yes, sometimes the first can lead to the second. I know that's true for me!
So, let's say you were physically hungry. Is this hunger you could have avoided? For example, are you eating frequently enough during the day to keep your blood sugar and metabolism on an even keel? Lots of people have "problem times" during the day, either from real hunger or from habit, so you can at least make sure you're feeding yourself often enough (every 2 to 4 hours) to keep that under control. If you're just starting a program, please realize that you WILL go through a period of hunger that you may just have to grit your teeth and bear. But, you can still keep lots of free foods around like non-starchy vegetables, sugar-free jello, etc. to keep the hounds at bay. I know that there are times when I am STARVING when I get home from work & the gym, even though I had a healthy snack about an hour before working out. I HAVE come home and just opened cabinets and starting shoving things in. My "willpower" (a term I really hate, but I'll use it here) is weakest when true ravenous hunger hits. So, knowing that it will take 20 or 30 minutes for me to get dinner ready, I have something ready I can have IMMEDIATELY when I get in the door, like a 100-calorie protein drink. That calms the stomach enough to let me prepare and eat a sensible dinner.
If the problem was only mild hunger that you just haven't gotten used to, or if it was head/emotion/boredom/habit/compulsive hunger, then you need other strategies. First, (and this will help with the true hunger issue too), keep your environment clean. Don't have anything in the house that you could binge on. Never ever ever allow yourself to go to a restaurant or store to buy binge food. Just having those barriers in place will help a lot. Next, if you eat from boredom or habit or tiredness or whatever, you have to find a replacement for the food. You may have to go through some trial and error to find what works for you, but anything that keeps your hands and mind busy is good. If it provides stress relief, so much the better. Exercise, of course -- even a leisurely stroll in the neighborhood -- is a silver bullet. Journaling (or coming to places like this web site), reading books & magazines about fitness & weight loss, doing housework, working on hobbies, etc. etc. are all things to try. Finally, if you are just bound and determined to eat something off plan, set up rules about it. That you have to drink a full glass of water and wait 20 minutes first, that you can only have one small serving, it must be on a real plate with real flatware, you have to sit down at the dining room table and eat it, you have to chew each bite 10 times and put down the fork between bites, etc. The idea is to delay first (the urge may pass if you let it), then make it a mindful, deliberate, controlled event second. In that way, even if you do indulge, you minimize the damage and it's done in a very AWARE fashion. You'll either truly enjoy it and feel it was worthwhile (and therefore stomp down any program-killing guilt it might have produced), OR you'll discover it's not worth the trouble.
Good luck, and just keep plugging away. You'll only fail if you give up.