February 1, 2009 -- Question: It seems like I'm gaining back some of the weight. How do I get back on track without succumbing to guilt?
Answer: In any weight loss effort, one of the things you have to anticipate is a plateau. The weight loss plateau really frustrates people and often it causes people to give up their attempt at improving their diet. It causes them, if they're on a diet, to go off the diet. The reason that a plateau occurs is you reduce your calories to lose weight, but as you shrink, you need fewer calories to maintain that lower weight. There's less of you to feed. And eventually, the lower calories and your new weight meet in the middle. And your weight stops to decline.
You need to either increase your physical activity or cut calories further to keep going. If you hit a difficult period, whether it's a weight loss plateau, or something disrupts your efforts to eat well and be active -- holidays, stresses in your life -- there is no cause for guilt.
We get heavy because we can. We are the first generation living in a world where calories are so abundantly available and so tasty everywhere we go -- and where have so much technology that does what muscles used to do. What we now call exercise, in previous generations, went by different names: it was called work or survival and you couldn't avoid it. Now we have to go out of our way to find room in our crazy schedules for it. That's not your fault. There's no reason for guilt.
You can accept personal responsibility for pursuing better health, pursuing a better diet, being more physically active, without blaming yourself for any weight control difficulties you may have.
So I would advise against any guilt. It is not your fault if you struggle with diet, if you struggle to be physically active, and if you struggle with your weight. So get guilt out of the equation altogether.
And if your commitment is to being as healthy as you can be for the long-term, frankly, it's hard to knock you off that wagon, because you're investing in a better life. And if temporarily things interfere, first opportunity you have to recommit to that, not because you want to deprive yourself, but because you want to indulge yourself in better health, better vitality and a better life. You get right back on track, pick up where you left off.
This is a life-long journey. It's okay if every now and then you get knocked off course. Pick up where you left off.