How to get back on track after you’ve fallen off the wagon

I stepped on the scale this morning at 165.

You think, after you have a night or a day with a few bad health decision, that it’s going to show up on the scale right away. That all that hard work you spent over months or years of your life will vanish with one night of binge eating and you’ll step on the scale again back at where you were.

And then, when one day doesn’t do it, you do one vacation. And even then, you see a pound, two at the most.

So you ease up a little. It’s OK to start buying bagels with cream cheese for breakfast again. It’s OK to start eating out for lunch more often … as long as it’s got vegetables, right? That second after-dinner beer isn’t going to kill you.

And then a few months go by and you realized that you’ve really started to erode the healthy habits you built when you lost the weight. Oh, and that 1 or 2 pounds turned into 15.

That story sound familiar? It’s mine. I really stopped being very conscientious about my eating habits last summer, but training for two marathons kept my weight gain to about 5 pounds. I’ve probably gained another 5 pounds on top of that since I moved to Bangor.

This is not a new story for you, dear readers. This is why I haven’t been blogging much (at least, not about health).

Running was masking my poor eating habits for me, and now that I only run about a half-hour a day, 5 days a week, it’s forcing me to realize that I’m not the person who ran two marathons last fall in more ways than one.

So here’s how I start, again:

It’s more appetizing than it looks.

When people asked me how I did it, my answer is always “Weight Watchers.” I didn’t follow the program religiously, but rather the principle that you can eat as much as you want of foods that are good for you (in WW parlance, those are zero-point foods).

Calorie counting doesn’t work for me. Period. There’s psychology behind that: your brain will more easily follow a “towards” goal — one where you can see the benefits building up — than an “away” goal — one where you are forcing yourself to stop doing something.

(I got this from an audiobook I just finished, Your Brain at Work, which was awesome and I highly recommend for more reasons than just health!)

So I made this simple goal this week: Make food at home for every meal.

It’s Wednesday, and it’s been going OK. It takes more time then just whipping out a sleeve of French bread and a block of cheese for dinner, but I know that, no matter how busy I am, keeping myself healthy will pay its dividends in energy and productivity later.

I know that my story isn’t unique. Most people have trouble keeping the weight off after they lose it, and I’m guilty of thinking that just because I had for two years, I thought I could forever.

Pattie Reaves

About Pattie Reaves

I'm the User Experience and Audience Manager for the Bangor Daily News. I live in Bangor with my husband, Tony, and our two pugs, Georgia and Scoop.