"After more than a year of dieting, they're typically a little heavier than their minimum weight and slowly creeping back up," says Hall. "But if you ask them what they're eating, most will say they're still on a diet."
The saying goes that success is 90 percent mental and only 10 percent physical, and dieting is no exception. We're not just fighting the scale, we're also fighting our old habits and, it seems, they're often winning. So how do you suppress your body's physical and mental propensity to resume your old ways?
Revisit your goals each week, says Susan Albers, Psy.D., psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic Family Health Center and author of "But I Deserve This Chocolate."
"Make sure they're measurable and process-oriented.," says Albers. Instead of telling yourself (and sometimes even willing yourself) to lose five pounds in a week, make a to-do list of activities that work to help you achieve that goal.
"It just feels so rewarding to be able to cross something off a list," says Albers. "It's something tangible that you can see and helps you work toward your goal."
Albers also suggests being more mindful of behavior to keep from slipping back into an old routine.
"So much of what we do is on autopilot," she says. "It's like when you change your password on your computer. It takes awhile to relearn that habit and, every now and again, you'll type in your old password. It's just ingrained in you, like any other habit."
At the end of the day, it's a little discouraging to know that we all seem to be kidding ourselves into believing we're better dieters than we really are.
"It's more disheartening to have false expectations set up," says Hall. More often than not, we're going to backpedal, sometimes unconsciously, and undo some of our dieting success. And that's okay because, as Hall says, "it's better to have realistic expectations and set out to achieve them."
So accept that you're going to have a few slip-ups, but be honest about where those pitfalls lie instead of pointing a finger at the scale. It's the first step in recovering from a dreaded plateau and working toward your ultimate fitness and weight loss goal, whatever that may be.
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