Preventing and Coping With a Lapse

As I mentioned in previous articles over the years, I like to focus on key concepts that have helped my patients gain better control of their weight problem.

In the past, we have talked for example, about setting success goals, the “dimmer switch” and in this article I would like to discuss the concept of preventing and coping with a lapse.

A lapse is simply a term for a deviation from your diet plan, a mistake, a slip, etc. If we continue to slip and string together a series of lapses we relapse back to our previous condition. When a relapse is complete and there is little hope of reversing this negative trend, a collapse has occurred.

To put this concept into practical terms, let’s analyze a few common errors in thinking.  (For example, let’s use a day, a weekend, a week and a holiday).

If we slip at breakfast (e.g. eating a donut) and respond by saying to ourselves, “I’ve blown the whole day now” and proceed to eat poorly the rest of the day, one small lapse (a 100 calorie donut) can lead to a relapse and ultimately a collapse of the whole day (with perhaps a few thousand extra calories eaten because of our initial response to the first 100 calories).

The same thinking could happen on a weekend.  A cocktail and a few snacks on TGIF could lead to “there goes the weekend” and who knows how much overeating and drinking could happen then.

Think about Monday morning or the first couple of days on a holiday.  If a slip occurred then “there goes the whole week, the holiday etc.”

We can see from the above example, that if a lapse occurs and we respond in a negative way, a lapse can automatically lead to a collapse.  In the following paragraphs, let’s see how changing our response to our slips can help salvage the day, the weekend, the week and the holiday.

An Ounce of Prevention

Throughout our lives we have heard the saying that, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  Therefore, one of the keys to correcting the lapses mentioned in the above paragraphs would be to work on preventing these slips in the first place.  However, once the lapse occurs, the most important step would be to learn how to better cope with these lapses and fix the slip right away.

STOP and examine the situation and move to a safe location where you can STAY CALM.  If you get anxious and feel guilty, it will only lead to further eating.  RENEW YOUR WEIGHT CONTROL GOALS by reminding yourself how far you have progressed and what you still wish to achieve.  ANALYSE the SITUATION and learn what triggered the lapse.  TAKE CHARGE IMMEDIATELY and don’t be afraid to ask for HELP (your partner, co-worker, etc.).  I’ve smiled and told many patients to dial  911 and ask for Dr. Lefebre.

Fix Sooner Than Later

I can’t say enough about this concept of coping with a lapse and “fixing it sooner than later” when it comes to someone who has already lost weight (e.g. 50 lbs.).  If they gain back 5 or 10 lbs. and take action right away they will never gain back 50 lbs., because they fixed it at 5 or 10. All of us have heard the negative statistics that most people will gain back all of their lost weight, but if we think about it, no one gains back 50-lbs. overnight.  They gain back 1 or 2, then 5, then 10, etc. and if they “fix it sooner than later” they never again will get back to their highest weight.  (Obesity has often been described as a disease of procrastination).

So, once again, remember a lapse does not need to lead to a collapse.  Try to prevent your slip in the first place, (an ounce of prevention), but if a lapse should occur, TAKE CHARGE IMMEDIATELY and remember the saying that we have heard many times in our lives, “FIX IT SOONER THAN LATER”.  This will allow you to make great strides in having life long success in controlling your weight.

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