Skip to main content
186 East 76th St First Floor, NY 10021
Man leaning over workout bench lifting weight for arm exercise

Overcoming Setbacks in Your Weight-Loss Journey 


Maybe it was an excess of holiday snacks. Maybe it was a lack of time that caused you to neglect your workout routine. Maybe it was just a particularly bad mindset that had you feeling discouraged. Whatever it was that set you back on your weight-loss journey, just know this: setbacks happen, and they will likely happen again.

Weight-loss is not a linear path. Each journey will look different, but everyone will have good weeks and bad weeks—that’s a normal and unavoidable part of the process. However, it’s still important to know how to handle setbacks in your weight-loss journey. Because something similar will probably happen again, you’ll need to know how to keep these setbacks from negatively affecting your mental health and discouraging your weight-loss progress overall.

Identify the Cause

If you’re not sure what caused you to slip up in your weight-loss routine, identifying the source should be your first step. Being aware of what caused you to compromise your healthy habits will make it easier to develop strategies to avoid the same mistake later in your weight-loss journey. 

If holiday snacking was to blame, make a note to prepare healthier options next year. If stress triggered overeating, discover alternative ways to handle the pressure. If you struggled to manage your time, think about putting exercise on your schedule before anything else. Using a planner or scheduling app can make allocating time for healthy grocery shopping and working out much easier. 

Mentality Matters

Once you’ve identified the source of your setback, it’s important not to dwell on it. Recognize and accept that setbacks happen, and don’t waste your energy beating yourself up for it. No matter the reason for the setback, you’re only human. Use the opportunity to learn and grow from your mistake by motivating yourself to do better next time. 

It’s also important to rid yourself of the “all or nothing” mentality. One bad day will not cancel out all the progress you’ve made on your weight-loss journey this far—not if you don’t let it. Avoid the trap of thinking one unhealthy decision means the rest of the week is lost. Resist the urge to throw out a whole week of healthy diet and consistent exercise just because you over-indulged in a holiday treat. 

Getting Back on Track

When it comes to getting your weight-loss back on track after a setback, it’s vital to start quickly. It’s easy to let the “all or nothing” mentality spiral into delayed promises to restart your workout or healthy diet. A week off can easily become a month if you’re not careful. 

It’s okay to allow yourself a grace period to collect yourself and make a plan to get your weight-loss back on track, but once you have that plan, put it into action right away. Don’t wait until the New Year or until after that weekend wedding. Start today.

If you’re struggling to motivate yourself to get back on track, return to the basics. Ask yourself, “Why did I want to lose weight in the first place?” Whether you’re trying to keep up with the grandkids or simply improve your physical health, reflecting on your reasons for losing weight can be the extra push you need to get (re)started. 

For some people, diet and exercise are simply not enough to reach the weight-loss goals they’re seeking. In these cases, bariatric surgery may be the ideal option. If you have a BMI over 40 and have not been able to achieve lasting weight-loss success through diet and exercise alone, you may be a candidate for weight-loss surgery. 

The bariatric surgery team at Lenox Hill Hospital has the experience and expertise to help you get on track to a healthier lifestyle. With compassion and professionalism, we are dedicated to providing support through every step of your weight-loss journey, including pre-surgery education and post-surgery aftercare programs.