The third Monday of January – otherwise known as Blue Monday – is commonly referred to as the most depressing day of the year.
A researcher, working as a tutor at Cardiff University, coined the term – they worked out Blue Monday based on a calculation of a variety of factors, including bleak weather conditions, debt levels, the time since Christmas and time since failing our New Year’s Resolutions.
You may have well begun the year with the intention of losing weight or becoming fitter, but several weeks in are finding it tough.
If that’s you, or you’ve given up on your New Year pledge already, here are some tips to get your goals back on track.
Blue Monday 2019: How To Restart Your Weight Loss Plan
There are two kinds of relapses, the first is the acute relapse, where you’re going along fine then “just lose it.” This is down to the individual in most cases and can be a symptom of being too strict with your dieting goals.
The second is the chronic relapse, where you’ve gradually let discipline go. You realise you’re snacking more, you’re not going to the gym as much and you’re not following your plan – even if just temporary.
This means you may have lost your motivation and need to re-gain it.
In both cases, its important to learn from the experiences but don’t let them get to you. You’ve shown you can control what you eat, so just pick it up again and let the blips go.
Think of what was motivating you to start the programme in the first place, how you felt and try to get those feelings back.
Prepare for blips so you know when you get a craving, there’s something you can do about it. For example, if you crave chocolate, remind yourself you can get that sweet fix in a much healthier way, such as an apple, bunch of grapes or a banana.
Write a diary
A food diary is a good way to see what you’re eating and when.
Many people begin diet plans without writing down strictly what they’re eating, so when they do go off course, however big or small, the foods they ate in doing so are quickly forgotten about, making it more likely they’ll repeat the same mistakes.
You can download a number of apps which make keeping a food diary simple, or you can reach for the pen and paper method, both are just as effective.
By writing down what you eat, you can see where you’re going wrong, if you indeed are, or you can use it as a means to stick to your plan more closely and reach the goals you’ve set.
Make a meal plan
The most effective way to avoid making poor nutritional choices is to prepare food in advance, or at least make a plan of what you’re going to eat for the coming week.
Sketch out your meals and snacks for the next few days after having a binge or off-period from your diet.
This lets you choose the right kind of foods to be eating well in advance, so when you go to the supermarket you have a plan in place - with ingredients to buy - and you won’t be tempted to pick up things you don’t need.
Resume normal eating habits
As soon as possible, work back towards a regular pattern of eating. Do not skip meals as this will leave you more prone to snacking.
Eat three balanced meals a day, most importantly breakfast to get you going in the morning. Consume nutritionally dense meals that include protein (think chicken, turkey, eggs) fibre, vegetables and good fats (avocado, salmon are stand-out examples).
When we’re happy, sad or mad we use food as a big role in compensating for our emotions. We can feel guilty after ‘treating’ ourselves in such a way. However, treating yourself during a diet can help you to remain motivated.
So, how do you treat yourself without ruining your hard work?
You don’t have to reward yourself in a huge way, but make it about yourself. It can be something small such as a cinema trip, a new book or a new piece of gym clothing.
Set realistic goals
One of the big mistakes people make when attempting a weight loss plan is to set goals which are difficult to reach.
This might be setting a target weight to lose by a certain time, cutting out all junk food immediately rather than phasing it out, or treating the plan like a quick fix that will deliver fast results.
Avoiding this is important when you’re looking to kickstart a diet plan.
Dieting and weight loss is all about a journey, turning your bad eating and exercise habits into good ones. Set smaller, more realistic goals along the way and you’ll find it easier to reach your targets then keep those good habits going.