- (of someone suffering from a disease) Suffer deterioration after a period of improvement
- A deterioration in someone's state of health after a temporary improvement
Return to (a less active or a worse state)
- go back to bad behavior
- backsliding: a failure to maintain a higher state
There are clear-cut steps that can be taken to prevent a relapse. Here they are:
This is the "work" part of it. We have to be on the constant lookout for traps and temptations. At first this will be tough because it might take a relapse actually happening in order to recognize it. But when it does, write it down. The most effective way I have found to identify the root of temptation is to find patterns. Is the stumble always happening at the same place? With the same people? At the same time? Under the same circumstances? It's probably not about the food at all, but rather a situational trigger.
One pattern that I recognized early on is that every time I go to my parents' house (where I grew up) I am tempted. It is a conditioned response for me--every time I walk in the door I go straight to the pantry and then to the fridge. Rinse and repeat until I leave...And when I finally leave I am a mess because of everything I ate.
Accept Our Vulnerability
Was it easy to accept that going to my childhood home was going to be a problem for me? No. Was is easy to accept that restaurants cause me major problems? No. Was it easy to accept that one of my all time favorite things to do, Christmastime baking, leads me down a very dark path? No. Was it easy to accept that watching TV breeds inactivity and hinders my ability to care for the people I love? No. This is the hardest part. I love going to my parents' house and I thoroughly enjoy eating out. Baking brings joy to my soul and watching TV is relaxing. I could easily say that these things are part of "who I am" and I'm not willing to give them up or compromise where they are concerned. Indeed, I did just that for many years. But look where that got me. It wasn't until I chose to ACCEPT my vulnerabilities that I could deal with them.
Avoid Our Vulnerability
This is the part that is hard to swallow. This may mean completely avoiding certain acquaintances, places, and events because of the overwhelming temptation that accompanies them. Being alone at my parents' house is one thing I never do anymore. There was a period of time that I never went to a restaurant. Family's going? Not me. (I have developed some more self-control in this area now, so I do eat out more, but I still struggle) Eliminating something that has been a huge part of our life is difficult.
However, it doesn't always have to be an elimination. Perhaps rehearsing the way you'd like to see things play out would help. Or choosing a place to eat that has a healthy option you like. Maybe you could find a new route home that doesn't go past the Taco Bell. It takes some thought, some time and some determination, but we can save ourselves from falling back into the pit. We have to take responsibility and ownership of this process and make it work for us!
This little saying has meant so much to me: "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got!" In other words, you can't keep living life the exact same way and expect to see different results. This is INSANITY!
Some ideas expressed in this post are adapted from the First Place 4 Health book, Simple Ideas for Healthy Living, article entitled "Relapse Prevention."