Getting Back on the Wagon: 7 Steps to Fix it When You Screw Up On Your Diet Plan

I’m going to tell you a harsh truth about losing weight; at some point, you’re going to fall off the wagon.
You’ll be chugging along on your plan, losing weight steadily, and then life will happen. Maybe it’s a birthday or anniversary celebration, or an illness in the family, or extra stress at work while working on a big project. One day you’re faithfully tracking your calories, staying on your plan, and losing weight, and the next thing you know, you’re not.

You’re eating all the cookies, chips, soda, and high-calorie foods that you know you shouldn’t. They taste good but you kinda hate yourself for it.

One day off-plan is an anomaly. If it lasts more than a week, you’ve officially fallen off the weight loss wagon. I hate to be the one to have to break it to you, but it’s a harsh truth of weight loss. If you’re off plan for too long, you lose the good habits that were working for you and slip into complacency that caused you to gain weight in the first place.

The good news is that you can get back on the wagon. The fact that you’re here, reading this blog, means that you still care about achieving your weight loss goals. You fundamentally know that you still want to continue losing weight and you don’t want to go back to the “before.” You know where you want to end up, and what that “after” will look like.

So what are you going to do?

You’re going to Start Over. Starting NOW. That’s what you’re going to do!

The big question is: How?

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22 Ways To Lose Weight Today: Strategies To Support Your Weight Loss Goals

“What should I do to lose weight? I want to lose weight but I don’t know how! What is clean eating? How can I figure this weight loss stuff out?”

If this sounds like you, and “clean eating” sounds more like eating in the shower than a way to lose weight, you’re in luck! Fortunately losing weight isn’t just one huge task that you do to get it over with. It’s an amalgam of all the little things you do, or don’t do, on a daily basis.

To help you start your journey to smaller clothes and slimmer waistlines, I’ve compiled 22 things you can start doing today to lose weight.

Sometimes it seems that one little thing you do isn’t going to make a difference, so why bother? Well, the old adage is true: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Each little thing on this list requires only a small amount of effort, and if you can make one or two of these happen a day at a time, eventually they will become habits. These habits are what will bring you lasting permanent weight loss:

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The Science of Weight Loss: Part I

As a science teacher, I was tasked with teaching concepts of biological, chemical, and physical science to high school students. They were usually unabashedly disinterested unless I could make the abstract and foreign seem more accessible and understandable. But, I’m sure YOU were always paying close attention in science class and never passing notes (haha) but nevertheless, we need a refresher on the science of weight loss.  We need to know how our bodies work so our weight loss can be permanent and sustainable. Don’t worry, It’ll be fun!

Energy is fantastic stuff.
We need energy to live, so that makes it pretty grand in my book. We need it in order to run, jump, climb trees, think, create, dream, have sex, play with our kids, and just get up in the morning. So in order to do all those cool things, we get our energy from the food we eat. Since we can’t convert light into sugars (like plants do through photosynthesis), we have to consume energy in the form of food (plants and animals). We must eat to live.

There is another way to talk about the energy in food that you have probably heard of; calories.

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For The Love Of Fruit: Hoarding Fruit And Losing Weight

I love fruit. I really do. Strawberries, bananas, pineapple, clementines, pears, kiwis, raspberries, apples, grapes, oranges, and blueberries! Hooray for fruit! I’ve always liked fruit, but have only grown into really loving it as an adult.

OMG I’m an adult! …………….. Ok, Freak out over.

When I joined Weight Watchers (WW) with my Mom and Dad back in 2012, we learned that the WW program had some interesting ideas about fruit (among other things); It was FREE! Fruit didn’t cost ANY “points” so, in theory, you could eat as much as you wanted and still lose weight. Theoretically. The problem with this approach is that they clearly underestimated people like my Dad. He took the “free fruit” rule literally, and consumed about as much fruit as he could stuff in. All. The. Time. It was so bad that after grocery shopping and coming home with copious amounts and varieties of fruits, the next day all the berries would be gone. ALL of them. Even though we had purchased several pounds of them. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little… but only a tiny bit.

After we inevitably quit WW, I moved out and started teaching science to high school students. When I first went grocery shopping for my new place, I found myself waaaaay over purchasing fruit because I was so used to it being this scarce, finite resource because of Dad always eating it all. I had “fruit insecurity;” I still had flashbacks of not having enough fruit around! The fruit hoarding lessened a bit over time, but there is something still so satisfying about having a plethora of fruit available at any given time!

I’ll admit it; I’m a fruit hoarder!

Unfortunately, the concept of “point-free” or “calorie-free” fruit is not helpful to anyone in the long term. 

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Taming Scale Dragons: Weigh Daily For Best Long-Term Results

This morning began, like all my mornings do, with a trip to the toilet, disrobing down to my undies, and standing on the scale. It gave me a number, I recorded it in MyFitnessPal and HappyScale, and I went about the process of getting ready for my day. Sometimes the number on the scale is higher than the day before, sometimes it’s lower, and either way, that’s ok. This is my body. I know my body.

It wasn’t always this way. Despite living in intimately close proximity for 20-something years, my body and I had never been properly introduced. Since I didn’t understand her idiosyncrasies, I certainly didn’t listen to her. This changed through the most unexpected of sources; the humble, oft demonized bathroom scale.

In my many early attempts to lose weight, the advice I heard from weight-watchers leaders or celebrity tv-personal trainers was always the same: “DON’T WEIGH YOURSELF MORE THAN ONCE A WEEK!” “Stay off the scale!” Since I wanted to do things right, I stayed the hell away from the scale until the weekly weigh in, when that number could make-or-break my whole week. If I gained any weight or even maintained when I had done everything right, it was heartbreaking. I felt like a complete failure, and this eventually led to the conclusion that I was just meant to be obese. Obviously this led to quitting the diet program altogether.

The best way to overcome the fear of the scale is to face it. Head on. LIKE A BOSS!

When I started losing weight for the last time,

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Everything In Moderation: Surviving A Cookie Swap

A couple weeks ago I was invited to attend a “cookie swap.” I accepted without fully understanding what that meant… For those of you who have never heard of these before, a “cookie swap” is a social get-together where everyone brings a batch of cookies, and you leave with a mix-and-match batch of all the other types of cookies that were brought. Like a pot luck, but with cookies! So essentially, you bring cookies, and you leave with cookies. In between, you eat the cookies!

I can almost hear the shock and horror now. You’re screaming at your screen:

“Oh my God! What the fuck is she doing??? She’s lost over 70 pounds, doesn’t she know that cookies are sooooooo unhealthy!!! Why is she doing this to herself???”
Yea, I hear ya! Attending a cookie swap might seem like an insane thing to do while trying to lose weight, and I don’t blame anyone for having that initial thought. A table FILLED with cookies, basically an all-you-can-eat-cookie-buffet, sounds like a recipe for disaster. But it isn’t, let me explain why. This just might change your life!

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Set Goals, Achieve The Impossible, Lose 100 Pounds!

Me: How much weight do you want to lose?
Hopeful-Weight-Loser: Well… I need to lose 100 pounds…
Me: Ok, that is going to take at least a year.
Hopeful-Weight-Loser: What???? No!!! I want it gone tomorrow! WTF?
Me: …
Guess what, dudes? Losing weight, especially a large amount, is going to take time and hard work. Not necessarily hard sweaty work at the gym or mental fortitude while in front of the open fridge, but the long term kind of discipline geared towards achieving a serious goal. A magnanimous goal; the kind of goal that, once achieved, makes people’s jaws drop open and stay there because of just how awe-inspiring it is. It’s awe inspiring because so few people are able to see it through to the end. That’s what losing a lot of weight is like; truly awesome.

If you’re thinking that you need to lose 100, 70, 50 pounds, you’re probably feeling like this:

Trust me, I understand. It feels like you’re in the desert, alone, without water, with weights on each arm and you’ve convinced yourself that you’re going to die a shriveled raisin of a person! (You won’t, by the way) But, like a marathon, losing any amount of weight begins with a single step. You just need to make sure you’re moving in the right direction. One step closer. One at a time. Baby steps. (Don’t worry though, graham crackers and juice boxes will be provided along the way)

My highest weight was 255 pounds, and at that time, losing anything close to 100 pounds seemed utterly impossible. Like traveling faster than the speed of light, or creating energy out of nothing, or jumping off a building and flying over the city like a bird (Weeeeeeeeeeeee!). But 5 pounds? “I could probably do 5 pounds…”

So I did.
And then I thought, “well, that wasn’t impossible, per se, so maybe I’ll just try another 5 lbs.” And so I did. Rinse. Repeat. Before I knew it, 50 pounds were gone.

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What The Hell Should I Eat For Breakfast?

Before I figured this whole weight loss shit out and lost over 70 pounds, every time I started a “diet” or a lifestyle change, I’d go into a mini panic thinking, “damn, what exactly can I eat now?” So if you’re just starting out and are feeling this way, you are not alone! Before getting too complicated with yourself, start with just eating the things you ate before (in weighed and measured amounts, of course), and add some new things in for variety. If you celebrate Taco Tuesdays, like I do, continue to do it! If you like eating chocolate croissants with chocolate chips melted over the top (*cough, mom, cough*), continue to do so! If you love Dr. Pepper (like the entire state of Texas), continue to drink it! However, eventually you will have to convert some of these things you used to eat daily, into to things you eat weekly, in order to keep within a calorie deficit.

When you eat things you like, you can continue your new way of eating indefinitely. This is how you learn to eventually maintain while you are losing weight.

In one of my earlier unsuccessful attempts at losing weight, while still living with my parents, the whole family joined weight watchers. During the weight-watchers-years, my Dad devoured bananas all the fucking time. He would eat all the bananas before Mom and I got a chance to have even one! It looked like he really really loved bananas for some reason. Ok Dad, if you really like bananas that much, you can have all of them. Fine. A couple years later, after all of us gaining our weight back, he admitted to not really liking bananas at all! He only ate them because they were “free” on the weight watchers points plus plan! WTF Dad? Don’t be like Dad.

Eat things you like! Never waste your calories on something you don’t like!

Let’s look at some options of “what to eat” for breakfast meals. This morning for example, I had a toasted English muffin with butter (real, delicious butter), two scrambled eggs, a sliced Fuji apple, with my earl grey tea (in a cat mug, of course). It was perfect for me. It kept me full and satisfied for several hours and was exactly what I wanted at the time. I usually try to have my breakfasts total up to between 400-500 calories, which leaves me plenty of calories for later meals and snacks. 

If you struggle with thinking of new things to try for breakfast, look below for some ideas:

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Half Price Candy Day!

They say the day after Valentine’s Day is the real holiday; discounted chocolate all over the place! Heart-shaped boxes full of the delicious brown stuff, just ripe for the taking. But if you’re trying to lose weight, this kind of candy smorgasbord can be scary as hell! We need some strategies so we don’t inadvertently undermine our long term weight loss goals!

For my Valentine’s Day, I spent the evening with my sister and my niece, who is almost three years old. I painted her toenails, pink and purple of course. (I swear that girl will sit still longer for a mani-pedi than anything else!) Her mom, my sis, got a big heart shaped box of chocolates caramels for us to share to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Of course, since my niece is so young, we had to try to explain what we were celebrating. “So, um, what are we celebrating, exactly?” I settled on, “this is a holiday to celebrate the people we love!” But, “yes, little one, this is another candy-holiday.” Damn, we seem to have a lot of these!

With a toddler who would eat only candy all day, every day, if given half a chance, it’s important to model good food behavior, so we each had one chocolate caramel and stopped. If the little one wasn’t allowed to have more candy, neither was I. This is one strategy for mitigating impending chocolate binges; think to yourself, “would I feed this much candy to a toddler???” Ima tell you right now, the answer is always going to be, “Hell No! Are you crazy??? Toddlers on a sugar rush sounds like hell!” And you’ll be right. Take care of yourself like you would a small child. You’ll treat yourself better instantly and it will help you stick to your food goals.

Unfortunately Valentine’s Day is not the only candy holiday. We just barely recovered from the Christmas candy, and there was Halloween candy before that. Next up for candy-holidays will be St Patrick’s Day and Easter. All of these holidays have subsequent discounted candy days.

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Help! My Pants Are Falling Off!

Heaven forbid this episode of Tales from the Scale! should ever happen to you! (I don’t know why I have to censor my stick figures so much… maybe they’re just exhibitionists?) 

Though lets be serious (for like 10 seconds), there are two reasons that adults might find that our clothes no longer fit. Either we’ve gained weight and our clothes are too small, or we’ve lost weight and our clothes are too big! Let’s look at our options for both:

Help! My Clothes Are Too Small!

It is really really really hard to admit that our clothes are getting too small. I get it. I really do. When we gain one pound here and there because we’re not paying attention to how much we’re eating, these pounds creep onto our bodies sloooooowly. We don’t notice that the extra calories are becoming a problem until it is already a BIG problem!

I once had a pair of jeans that I absolutely loved! When I bought them, they fit perfectly and I felt really confident while wearing them. Over the course of a few months, they started to get tighter and tighter until it was barely possibly to button and zip them! Not to mention, too-tight jeans are a recipe for major muffin-top and camel-toe. Not a good look on me. Often it takes a lightbulb-moment of realization for us to admit to ourselves that we’ve gained weight. For me, I’m thankful that I noticed that my favorite jeans were uncomfortably tight, because it helped encourage me to learn how to lose weight and actually keep it off!

If your clothes are suddenly (or not so suddenly) too small,

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