Be Optimistic and Realistic“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.  It’s a catchy tune, sure, but it’s not the best approach to success!  Overly optimistic thinking goes like this ” I went WAY over my calorie budget today, but I’ll get back on track tomorrow, somehow”.  While it’s helpful to assert good intentions (rather than beating yourself up) being vague about how you’ll recover isn’t helpful.  Thinking things will get better somehow, without having a plan to make it happen, can derail your weight loss efforts because we need to identify what needs to change and than set specific steps to change it.  So for instance the fix for going over your daily calorie budget could be to plan out your day for tomorrow. While most unhelpful thinking styles are negative (example beating yourself up) the don’t worry be happy style feels helpful and positive.  But it too can lead to feelings and actions or more often, inactions that undermine our journey.  Because it masquerades as something positive, this thinking style might demand a little practice and shift.

An example on how to manage this type of thinking was provided by the Weight Watchers Weekly on this subject.  It teaches you a way to “balance your thinking”.

  1. Identify your “don’t worry be happy” thought. (Example: I ate way more than I planned at my lunch date today. I’ll get back on track later.)
  2. Reality check it.  Ask yourself “what needs to happen to make this true?”  Use your answer to shift to a helpful thought that has one ot more back on track solutions. (example: If I make a plan, I will be able to get back on track later.  I could track what I ate.)
  3. Plan what you’ll do.  Choose one action from your ideas above that’s doable.  Make a specific plan for what you’ll do, when you’ll do it and who you’ll do it with (if anyone). (example: I’ll track what I ate at lunch during my 3pm break at my desk by myself.  That’ll help me see how many calories I’ve used and decide what to eat for dinner)

I’m a good one for this kind of thinking.  I am a big “don’t worry, be happy” thinker when it comes to my weight loss journey.  That’s why it’s ben so SLOW!  I’m always saying to myself “it’s ok tomorrow will be better” – spoiler alert- tomorrow is never better.  The action plan above is great and something I am going to give a try!

Speak up for yourself

A simple, effective way to sidestep sabotage (well meaning or not).

“Another slice won’t hurt, you don’t need to lose weight, but you’ve always looked like this-it’s who you are.”  Do any of these sound familiar?  If so, you’ve faced sabotage at some point along the way and it can undermine your weight loss journey.

Something to keep in mind, is that most often, sabotage is not intentional.  Often it’s the people that love you the most say or do things that could derail your weight loss and maintenance efforts.  These people don’t even realize they’re doing it.  They think they are helping you.  Many people associate food with love.

The bottom line is not to assume that friends and family are trying to harm your weight loss journey.  Take the time to explain to them how you feel sabotaged and let them know how they can better support you and your goals.  after all, they won’t be able to change their behaviors unless they know how their actions are making you feel.

An exercise from the Weight Watcher’s Weekly on this topic gives you a way to “sidestep sabotage”.

  • Describe:  Identify the sabotaging words or action with as much detail as possible.
  • Effect: Tell the person how that action makes you feel.
  • Specify: Give clear directions on what they can do (or can stop doing) to help you.
  • Consequences: Tell them how that alternate action would make you feel.
    • Give Feedback:  If the person has responded as you asked – thank them!  But don’t be discouraged if you need to follow up because they haven’t changed their ways.  It can take a second reminder to spur them to change.
    • Follow up:  The next time it feels like someone is sabotaging your weight loss efforts, tell them what they could do differently, using the DESC method above.

My mother is the biggest offender when it comes to this very subject.  She shows love with food, for as long as I can remember.  She shows it in other ways too, but LOVES to give treats and make desserts.   We’ve talked about it, but with her, I have to know that she comes from the right place.  She’s not trying to make me gain weight or go off plan.  She believes in me and wants me to be successful – actually.  But she also thinks that I have self restraint – which I don’t.

What are some of the ways you deal with this kind of sabotage?