Handle setbacks


to stay on track

Setbacks happen when your weight plan gets a little off course. You might feel like you "cheated" on your diet or get discouraged when you gain a few pounds.

Setbacks happen to everyone. But they don't need to knock you off track. Learn smart ways to handle setbacks and meet your healthy weight goals.

What causes setbacks?

From boredom to traveling, there are many different reasons we have setbacks.

Are you choosing exercises and food you enjoy?
If spinning isn't your thing or you don't feel satisfied eating salads, try something new until you find healthy choices you like.

Are you stressed out?
You might fall into unhealthy habits when you're stressed. Ask yourself what stresses you out and look for healthy ways to cope. If you need to, scale down your goals until you can put more time and energy into them.

Do you have the help you need?
If you need more support to be successful, ask for help. Find an exercise buddy, and ask friends and family members to keep high-calorie foods out of sight.

Do you miss certain foods?
Allow yourself to enjoy the foods you like once in a while. Treats are okay 1 to 2 times a week, and should be a part of your plan.

Is it on your calendar?
It can be tough to stay on track if you don't have healthy meals and exercise times planned in advance.

Is your environment affecting you?
Some things may seem out of your control — but there are things you can do about your surroundings, lack of sleep, and even genetics to keep your weight healthy. Learn how to overcome these common challenges.

Was your goal realistic?
If you just can't seem to meet your goal, make your goal smaller. Once you succeed, set a more challenging goal.

What changed in your life?
When there are changes to your normal routine, such as travel or illness, it can be hard to stay on track. If you know a big change is coming, prepare for it by finding creative ways to keep your plan going.

Rate your setback

Understanding how big your setback is can help you figure out what you need to do to get motivated again. Setbacks come in 3 general levels:

  1. Lapse: You eat a little too much or skip a couple of workouts, and gain a pound or two.
  2. Relapse: You overeat often or skip workouts for long periods of time.
  3. Collapse: You completely give up.

Get back on track

If you do have a setback, no matter how big, go easy on yourself. Nobody is perfect, and you can start up your healthy habits again any time.

Follow these 2 key steps any time you have a setback:

1. Identify how and why you lapsed, relapsed or collapsed. Take some time to analyze what caused the setback. Was it a person, stress, a specific situation? Write it down so you'll remember it.

2. Plan to prevent setbacks. Once you know what causes your lapses, you can create an action plan to better handle them the next time.

Need more help getting setbacks under control? Visit our health classes directory to find classes, counseling, and support groups near you (resources and services vary by region).

 Reviewed by: Adam Tsai, MD, November 2018