Messing up your diet isn’t as bad as you think. In fact, by following these steps, you can turn a slip up into a guilt-free spark for amazing weight loss.
The Common Scenario
So you’ve been eating right and exercising now for a while and have made some good progress. Then, one weekend night your self-control gets away from you. A couple of bites of chips and queso turns into a 2,000 calorie eating extravaganza.
You step on the scale the next day, and to your horror, your weight has jumped 5 pounds – effectively cancelling out all your weight loss and hard work for the past month. You feel devastated, hopeless, and angry all at once.
You begin to think that all your hard work was for nothing. You question what the point in all this is if you can’t at least splurge once a month and enjoy yourself. This thinking quickly extends the unhealthy eating, creating a downward spiral of negative thoughts and bingeing. Before you know it, you’ve reverted back to your old lifestyle.
Keep Perspective on Weight Gain
Now, let’s go back to the main trigger point (the morning weigh in) and see if we can change our thought process, because that 5 pound weight gain you experienced … was almost entirely water weight.
As always, we need to be mindful of the difference between weight and fat. Weight will be the cumulative total of fat, muscle, water, organs, tendons, etc. To truly gain 5lbs of fat, you would need to eat approximately 17,500 calories above your maintenance levels (3500 calories/pound * 5lbs).
I’m not going to say eating 17,500 calories in a day is impossible, but that would basically mean you were guzzling olive oil from the bottle all day long. Good luck with that. The point is, 17,500 calories is not the measly 2,000 calories you overate that one weekend night.
2,000 calories is about half a pound of fat. It is something that can be lost in a matter of 2 days if you get right back on track. The rest of the weight is water, and it will quickly fall off your body once you return to normal eating habits and start exercising.
Remember That Weight Loss Doesn’t Happen on a 24 Hour Clock
We have a tendency to think of weight loss in 24 hour cycles, but our bodies don’t operate like that. Time is a man-made phenomena. Our bodies only see energy balance over a period of time.
That means a 2,000 calorie meal can easily be made up over the next week or two simply be reducing your daily calorie intake by 100-200 calories per day. In the end, your body isn’t going to be able to tell the difference.
Get Right Back on Track
This is ultimately going to be the key to your success. You have to not beat yourself up and instead get right back on track. Enjoy your food. These things happen. No one is perfect. That one splurge is not going to harm you. Just like you don’t lose weight with a single meal, you don’t gain weight either.
Take some time to gather your thoughts and don’t dwell on the past. If you can, stay off the scale. It obviously isn’t going to give you a clear picture of what happened. Nothing good will come out of you seeing that elevated number.
Treat The Slip Up as a Much Needed Refeed
If you can get right back on track with your healthy eating patterns, you can potentially create a positive effect on your weight loss with that little slip up of yours. Think of your big meal as an unplanned refeed. This might have been just what your body was craving.
You likely have been in a calorie deficit for an extended period of time. Chances are, your body was needing the extra calories. This influx of food (energy) can send strong signals to your body that you are in the fed state.
When in this fed state all kinds of good things happen with your metabolism. Fat loss hormones are up-regulated and your metabolism gets a nice little boost. If you do everything right, you just might be surprised after a week to see your weight lower than it was before your slip up.
Don’t stress out over eating some extra food one day, or even a weekend. Stay mindful of what actually happened – you ate an excess of calories that is much less than what the scale is going to reflect.
Gather your thoughts and get right back on track. Treat your slip up as a much needed refeed and watch how that unexpected meal turns into the spark that reignites your weight loss.