No one steps out on the tennis court for the first time expecting to run and hit like a pro. When you learn to play a new sport, it takes years to practice, condition, and perfect your game. According to clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Friedman, weight loss is no different; it's an acquired skill that takes time to grasp, since each day brings new situations and challenges to the table. Learning to appropriately respond to these road blocks is necessary for lasting change, and the first step in the right direction is to be "curious rather than critical" when it comes to weight loss.
Instead of freaking out over one poor choice and going into crisis mode, Dr. Friedman says it is important to stay curious about why you made that choice. Take a step back and be honest about what got in the way of your progress. Was it a fight with your partner? Are you stressed at work? From there, move forward — don't sit and stew in guilt. Many people believe that if you feel badly about your choices, it will motivate you to change, but the science shows that it is just the opposite. In the "doughnut study," researchers found that women who received a positive message after eating a doughnut ate less candy than the other participants.
Think about it: if you had never served a ball on a tennis court before, you wouldn't expect master it on your first go! You'd pick yourself up and try it again. Remember this the next time you overindulge — it will get you back in game much faster.