024 Lapses and Relapse

by John Bukenas on January 20, 2014


Solving ProblemsIn this episode I come back and talk about what has been going on since October 7, 2013.  That was the date of my last Podcast.  And what and who started me back down the right path to continuing my journey.

Oct 7th was my last podcast.

Since then I have moved twice.

Started working for TV Talk and had to adjust to working the graveyard shift.

With all of the craziness going on in my life I started to back slide.  Then I felt guilty, like a fraud, a failure.  I knew what to do, I woke up every morning and made a commitment to get back on track, but by the end of the day I would sabotage myself and the feeling of guilt and remorse would start all over again.

And as I reflect on why this happened I keep going back to one word. “Pride”

Pride is a killer.  I couldn’t come on here and let you all know I was failing.  I was in trouble.

I would retreat back into myself with my best friend.  Food.

So there is two very special people in my life I am so grateful for.  Nancy Walters and Holly Rose.

Nancy is a true blessing from God.  Nancy is a life coach.  You can find her at http://newyouwellnessllc.com As much as I try to quit Nancy won’t let me.  Trust me I have put her through the paces.  We would talk and set up a plan and she would have me motivated and then the next day, I would slide back into my self inflicted depression.

The blessing and the curse of Nancy is that she is a fighter.  For fun Nancy trains in MMA.  So she is tough on the inside and the outside.  Nancy doesn’t not quit.  Nancy should have kicked me to the curb months ago for all my shenanigans and she hasn’t.

Now Holly Rose has been a guest on this podcast.  If you go back to episode 15 Holly and I got a chance to talk about our journey.  Holly is such an inspiration to me.  If you want to check out Holly’s blog and I highly recommend you do it’s at http://300poundsdown.com

So this morning as I was checking out Facebook I saw Holly had posted another blog. And Like I always do I grabbed a cup of coffee and when to read her blog.

But this time she did something different.

Something so powerful, so raw, and to me so motivating.

Holly posted a video or a Vlog of herself as she was going through a craving.  And because I have lived it so many times myself my heart just broke for her.  I understood.  I understood her pain, her frustration and her courage to let others inside to share this emotional state.  She just started the video and started sharing.

Holly showed me that I wasn’t alone.  Holly showed me it’s ok to fail, but it’s not ok to give up.

The fear of failure is failure.

Failure is acceptable, what is not acceptable is quitting.  Quitting is failing.

So of course I had so sit down and look at why I backslid.

Lapses and relapse are common.

They are common while you relearning new habits and attitudes.  It’s like dribbling  a basketball with your left hand if you are right handed.  You can do it, but it really feels unnatural and uncomfortable.  If you do not continue to practice dribbling with your opposite hand you will go back to dribbling with your right hand.

As you start to form new healthier living habits you are still very susceptible to falling back to your old habits.

You can be drawn back to what you did naturally until you practice and strengthen your new habits..  This could mean that you have unresolved issues that need work.

One of the signs you are in trouble is the feeling of guilt.  As soon you losing guilt free eating.  As soon as guilt come up you are setting yourself up to return to old eating habits.

Guilt comes when you break a commitment to yourself.  The guilt you feel from breaking a comitment can lead to binge eating.

But guilt is only a sign or a signal that you are in trouble.  Once you feel guilt it’s time to fall back and start mindfully practicing your plan.  Review your goals.  figure out where the breakdown is and make adjustments to get back on track.

Long bouts of guilt will send you spiraling back down to your old destructive habits.

To me guilt and shame is like a darkness that sucks you in to your old habits.  The best thing to combat darkness is light.  The light will come from the knowledge that you are in trouble.

Attitudes that encourage lapses

Complacency – You are working your plan, you are losing weight, you are feeling better.  You feel like you got this.  You no longer need to Journal, you no longer need to schedule your exercise, plan your meals, batch cook, or log your food.  You think you know your plan so well that all that fussing and fretting over planning is over rated.  Complacency is one of those slippery rocks on your path to a healthier lifestyle.  The great feeling you get from having success in the beginning can lead to complacency and you really need to be aware not to fall into that trap.

Overconfidence – Success leads to confidence which if you are not careful can lead to overconfidence.  You put yourself in situations you are not ready to handle.  You put your new attitude and habits to the test by going out with friends where you have no chance of staying on plan.  You unneedingly test yourself when there are all these other test you deal with that you have no control over.  A test is not a test unless you can fail.  So why expose yourself to failure when you don’t have to?  As soon as you think you have everything under control you are setting yourself up for a relapse.  You make these bold assumptions when you feel confident on the outside when you have fear on the inside.

Impatience – You didn’t get this way in 6 months, it will talk longer than 6 months to reverse the process.  So the length of time needed breeds impatiences   The problem is we get thin from the inside out, our bodies change faster than our minds. Even though others start to notice our progress and the compliments start coming, inside we are still struggling to maintain our new habits and attitudes.  We get impatient, we want this to be over.  Well I have news for you It’s never over.  What do you want to be over?  Your healthy eating?  Your exercise?  So let me understand? If this is over, what are you going back too?

Hunger – Irregular eating causes hunger.  By putting off eating for a long period of time food becomes a reward.  Also, portion control suffers when you become extremely hungry.  When you wait until you are hungry food also starts to fill psychological needs. It becomes medication that suppresses unwanted feelings. I remember talking to my friend Dan Hayes about his battle to stop smoking.  Dan knew if he tried to just cut back that it then became a reward.  So he substituted the old habit of smoking with brushing his teeth.  And that worked for him.

Anger – It is a struggle with emotions. As men we are not allowed you show certain emotions that could be perceived as feminine.
As men we allow ourselves to show manly emotions like anger, indifference, happiness.
But sadness, hurt, loneliness, being overwhelmed or fear are not emotions we are comfortable expressing.
Those emotions we are taught to suppress. The suppression causes an imbalance. Imbalance is hard to maintain.
Some men drink, some gamble, and some like me turn to food to ease those feeling we don’t want to, or know how to express. As crazy as it sounds it gives off the appearance of balance.
Keeping a strong emotionless demeanor comes with a price.
A very high price.
So as Men we have to learn how to evolve out of this destructive cycle.
As men we need to be able to express these emotions in a nondestructive manor.
I still am struggling myself in this area.
I find journaling and confiding in a close friend (A Woman) does help.
But it still is a daily struggle.

Loneliness – The holidays can be a very lonely time regardless of the size and proximity of our family.

Rather than be disappointed by another holiday gathering that promises joy and merriment, many of us turn to food for companionship.

We imagine a safe and drama-free evening at home, watching TV and pigging out on our favorite comfort foods.

Or we may decide we don’t want to be alone so we go to the party and find ourselves feeling lonely in a crowd of people.  The solution is to seek out the nearest buffet table or bar stool and eat celebratory, festive goodies and drink more than we planned.  Why not?  Everyone else seems to be doing the same thing and enjoying it.

Then there’s the need to be with someone, anyone.

We start thinking about our ex and trying to convince ourselves that he wasn’t really all that bad.

Or we look for someone new, fast. Wouldn’t the parties be better with someone by your side?  Who are you kidding?

Stop looking for temporary, superficial fixes to occupy your time and your emotions.
The solution for loneliness is not food, it’s not your ex, and it’s not shopping at the mall to be amongst people and spend money just so you’ll have something new to bring home.

Try these healthier antidotes for loneliness:
Help someone else.  Maybe your neighbor needs help putting up holiday lights, or shoveling snow.  Does the elderly lady down the street need a ride to the market? Is there a family in your neighborhood who will not be able to buy a Christmas tree this year?  Can you afford to contribute or get other neighbors and friends to chip in?

Volunteer. See if the local soup kitchen, sober-living facility or women’s shelter needs a few hours of free assistance.

Learn to say no.  If you don’t want to participate in an event just to have something to do, stay home.  But don’t just stay home, have a plan.

Engage in spirit-lifting activities.  Put on some of your favorite music and take a bath.

Try some of the new healthy recipes you found online or in a magazine.

Use cinema-therapy during the holidays. Choose a favorite comedy, or if you need a good cry, actually give yourself permission to do so.

Lack of Sleep: 

When I’m tired I go for foods that will give me quick energy.  Sugar and processed foods.  Also when you get into a sleep deprived state you lose your ability to think.  You can lose motor skills.  Sleep deprivation symptoms are basically  the same as being under the influence of alcohol.

As we know, we have a tendency to make bad decisions in that state.

Contact Me

  • How to contact me with questions or comments

  • Listener Feedback Line at 856-472-9833

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  • Leave a comment at the bottom of the show notes

  • So if you have any questions or comments don’t be shy, take yourself outside of your comfort zone and say hi.

Thank you for taking this journey with me.  I love it when you reach out and share your journey with me.  And If you haven’t, I just have one question, why not?  Please continue to take positive steps to take back your life.

 Legal Disclosure:

Let’s Reverse Obesity.com and the Let’s Reverse Obesity Podcast are meant for informational purposes and do not constitute medical, nutritional, dietary, therapeutic, or any other advice. Any information on this site or in the podcast reflects John’s or his guests views and experiences only. You should always consult with a medical doctor, nurse, or other certified health professional before starting any diet, exercise, or any kind of health plan.



  1. […] and inspiration.  He discussed relapses and the reasons we go through them on his latest podcast: Lapses and Relapse.  He is also someone working on moving through the tough setbacks and looking forward in a […]

  2. […] Episode 024 Lapses and Relapse. on the podcast and blog, Let’s Reverse Obesity by John Bukenas. I think this is a stellar example of 1. yes, men have this issue too, and 2. it’s never too late to be real and try again. Hooray for John! Please give a listen and see if John’s show will be of help to you and if so, give him a shout-out of support. […]

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