4 Reasons for Relapse on Your Diet

Mary had just suffered relapse for the 3rd time in 3 weeks. It was happening on Saturdays. Herself and Derek ordered in a takeaway and 2 bottles of wine later, a slight hangover on Sunday and before she knew it she was waking up to Monday.


Cue the guilt and resistance to eating anything remotely healthy. She was tired, a little groggy and disappointed in herself that she had let herself ‘fall of the wagon’. That planned trip to the gym went flying out the window.

I understand this feeling.

In health and fitness, good enough is good enough. Perfection? Well it is just elusive to most folks. And can often spell trouble leading to relapse and feelings of helplessness.

I have seen folks eat like an angel all week but then a party, wedding, a trip or just good old boredom kicks in efforts are derailed. Cue the diet relapse.

You know that feeling of nailing your diet and training all week and then for 2 days things look completely different?

There maybe habits that are acting as barriers too. That feeling of ‘I know I should do something about it…but 1-2 wont hurt”

Insert “healthy calorie rich treats…a line or two of chocolate…a glass or two of wine”

Where do you draw the line?

Or what about when you fall off the wagon spectacularly. A hangover spells a takeaway, then another and another day of feeling sorry for yourself and poor eating choices.

Where do you draw the line?

After 1000s of training hours and 16 years coaching, here are some common problems folks like you face and most importantly some strategies to overcome them.

1. The Weekend Binge

You eat well all week and whether you are tracking or not you are on target. You have eaten well, prepared some meals, stuck to your calories and kept to your routine.

Then the weekend happens.

You eat poorly all weekend, you are not tracking and deviate wildly away from your plan.

Your average calorie intake for the week was suppose to be 1600 kcal. Two days of eating 2200 kcal has now spiked it to 1800 kcal putting you in a surplus for the week.

You wake up heavier, more bloated and suffering from water retention.

Joints may feel stiffer, you have mental fog and sleep is just that little bit worse.

This is not about depriving yourself. It is about allocating calories, understand portion size and finding foods you enjoy. How much will you drink? How much will you eat? How much is enough?

Sure the clean eating brigade will smack of ‘having your cake and eating it’.

But I am talking to you. You who needs to break the dieting habit and find an approach that is sustainable and works for you in the long term. And yes you can lose weight with burgers and treats…

Image Source: PC Mag

Remember this is the average intake we are looking at over the course of a week. 80% of your diet should be good clean, whole foods built to fuel a high spec machine like your good self.

This leaves 20% for foods you enjoy.


There are so many people out there who dread the weekend and social occasions. So be careful with the language you use. You may talk of things like a ‘battle’ or ‘dreading’, ‘fearful’. Why not reframe this and think of it as a ‘challenge’ with some ‘minor hurdles’ to over come.

Take some responsibility for what will happen before it happens.

Map out your weekend, particularly with what you eat. You know where you will roughly be so map it out, including what takeaways and treats are in store.

2. Alcohol…and the just one more brigade

So how can we include foods and drinks we enjoy in our diet?


Understand that a glass of wine is around 150-180 calories and a pint of beer a bit more than that. That line of chocolate is about 180 kcal of largely sugar and fat.

Can you afford to drink or keep up that habit of dropping 3-400 kcal after dinner in drinks and snacks?

If you have starved yourself all day…maybe. But where is the health in that?

In my experience, most women have the biggest problem with this. Their energy intakes are lower than men but yet they may go toe-to-toe on a bottle of wine a couple of nights a week. This makes weight loss VERY tough.


If you want it..understand how much and how many you can afford to eat or drink. Everyone has a choice. This is where a prolonged period of tracking works. Foods that you enjoy can be worked in to your diet.

3. Falling off the Wagon

You fall off the wagon but how long does it take you get back on it? A day, week, the next meal?

Those who succeed have a set back, chalk it up and move on. There is no dwelling on it. This is where accountability and support help. If you know that someone is there reviewing your intake or progress then you are more likely to succeed.

Having a regular weigh in keeps things in check. Whether that be weekly, daily or monthly (less favorable) keeping the show on the road is 10 x easier.

If this is a repeat setting take some responsibility and ask yourself ‘why’. What triggered it? How were you feeling before it? What can you do next time?


You will relapse. This is a normal part of when you change something. The key here though is to ask yourself why this happened?

And then take 100% responsibility for it in the future.

4. Trips Away

I use to travel a lot before kids as a consultant to a large multinational corporation in Ireland and Switzerland. At the time I was deeply engrossed in my training and playing a high level of rugby.

It was a pain in the backside. Different foods, planes, trains and automobiles. Crappy gyms.

But then I grew to manage it. Suddenly I was actually walking more, eating different foods, training in different places and getting a good workout in.

You see the stimulus was refreshing. A new city meant a chance to walk and explore. A new city meant a chance to train in a new gym with new toys. If I had been training hard it may have meant a forced rest.

So with travel and being on the road you can either embrace it or become a victim.

I chose to eat well. As part of the World Trainer Network, we place successful executives all over the world so that they can keep their momentum going. They stay on track because of this. They choose to go with it rather than be a victim of it.

I chose to accept that the hour long weekend was out of the window and maybe a long walk around the city was enough. Or 10 minutes. Or 20 minutes on an exercise bike or a circuit in my room.

It wasn’t excellent but it was ‘god enough’.

You either have an excuse or an action.

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