The Mayo Clinic Diet blog

Take control of challenges to weight loss plan

By Donald Hensrud, M.D. May 6, 2010

In one of the previous blogs, I mentioned we all experience challenges in trying to manage weight. I just returned from a trip away for a couple weeks. Traveling is one of these challenges and can often make it difficult to keep up efforts to eat well and be physically active. And there are many other challenges. Combining this with a tendency to resort to old habits that may promote weight gain, it's no wonder that it's difficult to lose weight and keep it off.

So, how can we deal effectively with these challenges to our weight loss efforts? In "The Mayo Clinic Diet," we discuss being ready to lose weight. This includes not only being ready initially, but also ready to continue efforts long-term. Dealing with these challenges is part of this long-term readiness. One of the most important aspects of effectively managing challenges is to expect them. While individual challenges may vary, virtually everyone will experience them sooner or later.

If you expect them, once they occur you can use problem solving strategies to deal with them in a constructive manner, rather than taking the path of least resistance and reverting back to old habits that promote weight gain.

In "The Mayo Clinic Diet" there is an Action Guide in which we have listed a number of challenges that people face (e.g., not eating breakfast) and strategies on how to deal with them.  When I was traveling, I was exposed to increased calorie foods and on occasion a lot of it (buffets!). I knew this would happen, so some of the strategies I used were to:

  • Decide ahead of time what I was going to eat at a buffet instead of mindlessly eating.
  • Try and make sure I ate plenty of vegetables and fruits to help fill me up, even when there were plenty of high-energy dense tasty foods around.
  • Make an extra effort to get physical activity in. Many of the people I was with bemoaned the fact that they had fallen out of their exercise routine. I got up a little earlier some days and on others made exercise a top priority. The payoff was well worth it in terms of feeling better as well as burning more calories.

Don't let circumstances turn your program upside down. Expect challenges, take control when they happen, and stay on your weight loss journey. Please share your tips.

May 06, 2010