Losing (And Even Maintaining) Is Not Always Reasonable

A few months ago, my client, Ann, went on a trip for three nights. Although she didn’t know her entire itinerary before she went, there were some things that we could plan for in advance. For example, Ann knew that her hotel had a breakfast buffet, and she decided that she would forgo all the pancakes and French toast and instead have eggs, which is what she has for breakfast at home. Ann also decided to stick to her three meals and two snacks schedule, try to order a salad for lunch every day, and make sure her dinner portions were reasonable.

When Ann came back from the trip, she reported that she wasn’t feeling great about how it went. She gave in and had carbs for breakfast, snacked too often during the day, and one night had a big dinner that left her feeling uncomfortably full. The scale reflected this; Ann gained three pounds. Ann and I discussed the trip and what she could learn from it, so that she could have a different outcome the next time.


She made some Response Cards:

If I’m tempted to have anything other than eggs at breakfast, remember: It’s critical that I start the day off on a strong note so that I can be successful the rest of the day. If I exercise my giving-in muscle first thing, I’m much more likely to keep giving in all day.

Stick to three meals and two snacks! If I come in contact with food and it’s not time to eat, either save it for when it is time to eat, or forgo it. Once it’s not in front of me anymore, I won’t be sorry I resisted.

Eating too much makes me feel awful! When I overate at dinner I felt sick and it put a negative cast on the rest of the night. It’s not worth it.

Last week, Ann went on another trip. In session this week, she told me that she was disheartened because she had gained two pounds, despite feeling like she had been on track the whole time. She told me that she made good choices, stuck to her schedule, and really watched her portions. I told Ann that I thought it was reasonable for her to gain two pounds on that trip! It’s not always reasonable in every situation to lose weight, or even to maintain weight. It was clear that on the first trip Ann didn’t need to have gained the weight she did because there were several things that could have gone better. But during this trip, Ann made really good decisions, and there was virtually nothing she felt she should have done differently–which shows that she did a great job. The fact that the scale went up doesn’t mean she didn’t do well; it just means it wasn’t reasonable not to gain a little.

3 replies
  1. Sarah Filene Ladd
    Sarah Filene Ladd says:

    I have been having minor but disruptive health problems for about 4 months. My energy is low, sleep patterns and exercise routines all out of whack. Was eating late at night, binging once or twice a week, and eating about 120 calories over my usual intake. I have lost 33 pounds and was at goal, but now have about 8 re-gained. I’ve kept my Food Journal, put myself on an eating schedule, and “closed the kitchen” at 8 p.m. It may be another week or two til I can resume my exercise (which is crucial to my mood, eliminates binges, burns a couple hundred calories, and keeps me motivated). DIscouraged but trying to be kind to myself and recognize that this has been a challenging time. Credit myself for being brave enough to step on the scale, for being disciplined enough to keep my food journal. Trying to relax, know this will pass, and that if I could lose 33 pounds, I will be able to lose 8-10 once I feel better.

    • CaroCR
      CaroCR says:

      Sorry to hear about your health difficulties.

      I love the sound of your plans for getting back on track. Working out what the problem is and thinking of strategies to try and solve them works for me too.

      I realise I’ve got out of the habit of giving myself praise though – so thank you for that reminder!

  2. Maggi
    Maggi says:

    The foods available when we travel are often the ones that tend to make us retain water. I am not wiling to stress at all over some temporary water weight gain. In fact, I am more concerned with being honest about sticking to my reasonable eating guidelines than I am in weighing a certain amount for exactly the reason given: it is not always possible even when eating reasonably to maintain or not gain temporarily. It is actually worth a temporary water gain to me sometimes to be able to eat more freely and enjoy it foods I might not normally have. It’s one of the reasons I tend to eat more simply when I prepare my own food. Then the foods away can be part of a social event. I want to be honest about knowing that I can still savor every bite, check in with my satiety, and pause more because it’s likely the foods are very concentrated. These foods take more volume to satisfy, so I need to consider purposely eating a bit less volume than usual to compensate. When I’m traveling, I can also make more of an effort to “fill up” on my new surroundings and companions.


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