Update: This post was originally written in 2013. I no longer eat ice cream as a regular part of my diet, but the anti-slump strategies remain the same. Enjoy!
True confession time. I’m eating Breyer’s cookies & cream ice cream with colorful sprinkles on top. Ice cream is not a shock because it’s a regular part of my diet, but when I indulge in frosty deliciousness AFTER having had bacon and popcorn and Cinnamon Chex and a huge helping of mashed potatoes, well then it’s a bit much.
I’m in a diet slump!
In the past I might have berated myself, felt guilty or vowed to run extra mileage the next day, but not this time. One of the lessons I have learned in my diet and weight maintenance journey is that slumps will happen and slumps are normal. But how I deal with an over-indulgence is critical.
Here are 7 of my favorite tips when dealing with diet malaise, exercise apathy or a mini binge:
1. Make a list of things that make you happy.
This may sound silly, but sometimes little things can go a long way toward improving our mood. And your mood is one of the first things to tank when you’re in a diet slump.
I love music, but often I forget to surround myself with my favorite songs. I have the luxury of being able to rock my playlist at work but many times I simply forget. What makes YOU happy? Many times something simple brings a smile to our faces. Pick one of the items on your list and resolve to do it ASAP!
2. Update or begin a vision board.
A vision board is simply a collection of pictures and/or quotes to motivate and inspire you when in a pesky diet slump. This is how I started the vision board in my printable Fitness Planner. I like to have a vision or inspiration board inside my planners so I can look at it every single day. Some of my printable fitness and life planners come with pre-printed inspiration boards, but you can create your own using paper and photos.
Don’t be caught up in making your board pretty or overly decorative (unless crafting makes you happy). These days a vision board can be as simple as saving pictures and motivational memes from the internet into Pinterest or a photo album on your phone. Use your vision board to be inspired!
Here’s another method to create a vision board, using free online photo software: How to Create a Vision Board Using PicMonkey
3. Start a gratitude journal.
I have been writing in a gratitude journal off and on since 2000. Yes, that is 18 years. Practicing an attitude of gratitude is one of the easiest things we can do to make improvements in all areas of our lives, including digging out of a diet slump. I use these printable Gratitude Pages to write in almost every single day.
- makes us happier
- makes us more optimistic
- makes people like us
- strengthens relationships
- improves decision making
- helps us sleep better
- increases self-esteem
- reduces blood pressure
- helps with depression
- improves overall physical health
4. Plan tomorrow.
This is especially important if you have overeaten or binged. Go back to your roots — how did you lose your weight in the first place or what plan should you be following? I go as far as to plan all my meals and snacks and jot my proposed workout on the calendar. Successfully following your plan does wonders to boost confidence and pull you out of the slump.
Planning is simple so don’t gloss over this step. You can plan:
- in an old notebook
- in your life planner or calendar, or
- in a printable Diet & Fitness Planner
5. Set new health & fitness goals.
Do you set goals each month? I firmly believe in the importance of goal-setting. Working to achieve a goal can be exhilarating! Maybe you need to shake things up and pick a new challenge to help break out of your diet slump. Do you want to run a 5k in 12 weeks? Swim a mile? Boost your water intake? Set goals and write them down. And then keep those goals in plain sight.
6. Go shopping.
My husband would probably cringe if he read this but I believe retail therapy has its place! Shopping burns calories, especially if you park far from the door. Once inside, purchase a flattering item of clothing, a new workout outfit, or maybe some deliciously scented candles or body lotion. Just don’t go to the Russell Stovers Outlet store! Choose something non-food-related or simply window shop if you have willpower – which I do not have. 🙂
7. Indulge — for only one hour.
This is my best tip. Speaking personally, sometimes I am cranky and grouchy and just feel like eating. Tonight for example! Be aware of what you are doing — no mindless grazing or binging here — and set your timer for one hour. When the alarm sounds, stop eating. Your pity party is officially over.
A friend shared this tip with me and it is really revolutionary. You really cannot do much damage in one hour of eating – even if you go absolutely hogwild. One pound of fat is 3500 calories and yes you can eat 3500 calories in an hour, but it’s not likely. The key is to be AWARE of what you are doing and making the conscious choice to eat, and then the very wise decision to stop in 60 minutes.
My little mini binge tonight? Probably 1200 calories. OK, that’s a lot (in addition to a normal breakfast, lunch and dinner), but will it affect me negatively? Not so much. The scale may register a pound or two over my normal weight tomorrow, but that is likely due to my salty bacon and popcorn. Will I gain a pound of fat? Maybe, but probably not. More likely my stomach will be a mess from the Oreo ice cream since I am gluten intolerant and really can’t get away with sneaking cookies!
This is really, really important. Be kind to yourself.
Whether your diet slump is one meal or one day or even one week, DO NOT punish yourself by doing extra exercise or cutting your calories to unreasonable levels. Just start over right where you are. There should not even be a need to forgive yourself because slumps are normal. They will happen again – it’s just part of life.
What you CAN do is learn from the experience. I am a huge proponent of journaling my weight loss and maintenance journey. I don’t journal every day, or even every week, but I do journal when I am struggling. It is interesting to see all the ups and downs I have been through over the years. And you know what? I pulled myself out of slumps before and I will do so again. (I use these printable Journal pages as a section in my Life Planner.)
It’s OK to have a bad day. It’s OK to slip up. What is not OK is to beat yourself up over a slump or, likewise, to allow it to continue.
Overeating or binging everyday will bring trouble and it’s a lot harder to snap out of your slump when the bad patterns continue.
So, now that I’m done writing and ready to hit “publish,” the bowl of cookies & cream has been licked clean except for the clumps of Oreo cookie at the bottom of the bowl. I am stuffed and feeling bloated as hell, but that’s OK. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I will lift weights, work on my pull-ups (this month’s goal!) and will eat the meals I’ve planned. I’ll rock out to Bon Jovi at the office and just may stop by Target to pick up some new mascara and lip gloss.
I had a diet slump, but now it’s over. I am just fine. And you will be too.