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Mastering Relapse Prevention

Although you may feel that your healthy eating habits and physical activity routine have become a permanent habit for you, it’s important to recognize that minor slips or lapses can (and do) happen. They can creep up anywhere during your weight loss journey—even at maintenance. The best approach for preventing lapses from becoming relapses is to plan ahead. Think about situations that may present a “risk” for you to stray from your healthy routine. It may simply be vacations, holidays, business travel, getting sick, or time with friends.

When a lapse does happen it’s important to view it as a learning opportunity and prevent it from turning into a relapse. You can do this with four easy steps:

1. Forgive yourself. It’s okay to lapse. This slip-up from your routine will not affect your weight as long as you get back on track. Believe you have choices. Instead of saying that you have to eat healthy or exercise, it’s more empowering to say that you choose to.

2. Analyze the situation and your typical response. Why did the lapse happen? Who were you with? Where were you? Here’s an example: Maybe you were traveling for work. You planned on eating healthy and exercising at your hotel; but by the time you arrived you were tired, there were free treats in the lobby, and the gym was closed. You told yourself, “It wasn’t meant to be”, and ate the unplanned sweets, felt guilty and went to bed.

3. Plan your strategy. When faced with the situation again, what will you say to yourself? What will you do? Next time, tell yourself that just because the gym is closed doesn’t mean you can’t be active. Even though the lobby offers free food doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Think about and make a plan for the next time like bringing your own portion-controlled treats such as Jenny’s Cuisine® snack bars and looking for other ways to fit in activity (e.g., hotel pool, free on-demand exercise videos, Jenny Craig Move More Challenges).

4. Rehearse your plan. Summarize your plan and then rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Create your meal plan before your next trip, and commit to tracking the whole time you’re away. Deviate from your typical activity routine occasionally and do what you plan to do while traveling. This will reinforce the plan is doable.

If you do have a slip-up regardless of all of the planning you did, remember to forgive yourself, take a look at what happened, plan your strategy for next time and rehearse. Don’t let it get you down. That can lead to overeating to feel better, which can lead to an out-of-control cycle and ultimately a relapse. Accepting your mistakes and resolving to do better can put you in control again.