The Cycle of Dieting : Steady State Blahs

October 31, 2011

Circle inversion © by fdecomite

I think there is a cycle to dieting.  We start out all revved up for the new plan (in my case, usually with several false starts before one sticks).  Then the early days of struggle, followed by a whoosh on the scale that makes us stick it out for a few weeks.  After that, gradually, comes “settling in” to diet mode.

In “Settling In” it’s no longer a big struggle, the healthy habits are back, and it feels like a normal way to live life.  Weight continues to come off, the whole dieting thing feels like it’s not such a big deal.

Then, at some point, come the “Steady State Blahs”.  Weight loss has probably slowed (or stopped completely).  You’re still doing everything – still eating healthy, still getting some exercise, but probably the edges are messier.  You’re not keeping as careful count of calories or grams or whatever.  Your exercise is more sporadic or less intense or the same but is now easier on your body and you don’t push it.  You feel a bit less motivated, less determined, and since the scale is also showing fewer results, it’s a fragile time.

You could get frustrated and quit, or go off plan.  You could keep on putting in low-level effort and getting low-level results, putting off the frustration period for a while.  You could decide to punch up the energy in one or more areas for a few days or weeks.

This is where I am right now.  I’ve been successfully back on track for two months now.  I’ve drifted into the Steady State Blahs over the past week or so.  I’m caring too much about what the scale says each day – since I don’t feel like a big success if the scale shows a blip up I find it really demoralizing and I see it in my eating.

So here are some things I’m going to do about it :

1) I am going to take a planned one-day-off my diet in the next week or so.  I’ve not cheated even once in two months, but with holidays coming up and frustration rising, I can feel cheat opportunities piling up.  I need to plan a day off instead of randomly slipping up.  It won’t be a free-for-all day, but intentionally loosening the reins, and on my own timetable so it’s not about circumstances.

2) I’m going back to tracking calories.  Not every day, but three days a week. It’s honest, and it keeps me focused.  Makes me slightly crazy too, but for me few things help as much as a slight step up the food journal ladder.

3) A weight loss goal for the New Year.  Yup, over the holidays and all, I plan to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of the year.  I’m not a big fan of time-based weight loss goals, because I tend to feel like a failure if I’m a little short (I would beat myself up for losing 9 pounds – concentrating on the ‘should have’ number instead of the big accomplishment 9 pounds off my body would be).

4) I’m going back to once a week weigh ins.  I’ve been weighing in daily for two months now, but over the past three weeks it’s been increasing my stress rather than increasing my focus.  So that means it’s time to change, and I’ll go back to weekly weigh ins on Mondays.

I’m glad I’m able to see where I am, to recognize the “Steady State Blahs” and to do something about it.

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