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Food For Thought: Lose It and Leave It

Learning and Development Specialist Natalie Papini shares a proactive approach to identifying and responding to triggers that can help members achieve sustainable lifestyle change.

Travis is speaking to his Profile by Sanford coach.

Two friends join Profile at the same time. Both see the same coach, have the same number of appointments, and lose the exact same amount of weight over the same amount of time. Two years later: one has successfully kept the weight off while the other gained much of it back. What makes lifestyle change stick and how can you stay on track and not let a single indulgence, or lapse, turn into a series of indulgences, or relapse? Below are three behavior change techniques to help you lose it and leave it for good.

1. Stop Problems Before They Start
Be proactive and keenly aware of your triggers. Identifying specific foods, drinks, and/or environments that pose challenges for you can help you develop a plan to deal with them when the situation arises. Your ability to acknowledge food that you find difficult to control and environments you find particularly challenging will allow you to identify healthier alternatives.

2. “If, Then”
Two words bridge the gap between what you want to do and what you actually do: if, then. “If, then” is the emergency response plan. Understand your triggers to come up with several scenarios using “if,then” for when you encounter problematic foods, drinks, and/or environments. For example, if Friday happy hour is a challenging environment for you, your “if, then” response plan could be: “If my friends invite me to happy hour, then I will go for an hour and drink a diet coke.” Another example could be: “If my spouse decides to order pizza on Friday night, then I will grab a veggie tray and hummus from the refrigerator.”

With practice, “if-then” statements can become an automatic response when you are presented with temptations that clash with your goal. Over time, you eventually start doing whatever your pre-planned “then” response is without second thought, rather than instinctively ordering a margarita or grabbing a slice of stuffed crust pizza.

3. Problem Solve It
Generate strategies that will help you succeed when you encounter your trigger foods, drinks, and/or environments. Reflect on times you have been successful when presented with a challenge and think about what you did differently and why that worked for you in that particular situation. It is crucial to have an open mind and clear definition of the problem you are attempting to solve. From there, you can brainstorm options and make decisions that you believe will be most effective.

Once you have carried out the solution, evaluate the results of your decision and think of ways you can do better next time if the solution you chose wasn’t as effective as you hoped it would be. Finally, be kind to yourself. It takes time to find solutions that work for you, and even then, solutions often need to be refined to best fit the situation.

Learning how to navigate scenarios that undermine your goals is a big part of your Profile journey. It takes intentional thought and planning to prevent one lapse from turning into a relapse. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to real and sustainable behavior change. Take these strategies and personalize them to best fit your needs. Finally, keep an open dialogue with your Profile coach to help you navigate your journey so you can handle the bumps in the road and arrive at your goal.