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Getting Back To Goal: 5 Key Steps To Reverse Weight Regain

February 12, 2013

Recently, I got on the scale after noticing that my clothes were feeling (and looking) tighter than I am comfortable with, and realized that I had slid right past my “safety zone” into new (or more truthfully, old) territory.

I immediately realized that I had been traveling a lot over the last few months, and as a result, my usual routines (including weighing myself) hadn't been consistent. This was a wake-up call.

The only question was: how was I going to respond to it?

Normal Weight Fluctuations

Now don’t get me wrong; weight fluctuation is a completely normal bodily response that has nothing to do with WLS.  Our bodies go through normal hormonal and chemical balancing cycles, which can impact our weight, mood, physical sensations and a host of other functions.  So it’s a set up for us to presume that once we achieve goal weight, we must remain at that exact same number for all time in order to consider ourselves a success.

Individual weight fluctuations depend on many things that we don’t necessarily have control over (like the examples mentioned above). But, there are many factors that we do have control over or choice about, and those are the ones that we can’t afford to lose track of if we want to avoid the kind of ‘aha’ moment that I had on my scale recently!

My “safety zone,” or natural fluctuation range since my WLS, has always been between 1-5 pounds below or above my goal weight.  When I looked down at the scale on this particular occasion, I was an additional 4.5 pounds above my safety zone.  My first thought (rooted in embarrassment and anger) led me to scold myself; “WHERE WAS I WHILE THIS WAS HAPPENING?  Asleep at the wheel?”

My second thought, which followed almost immediately (rooted in interest and curiosity instead of shame and blame) led to a shift in energy that enabled me to ask myself, “What have I been doing differently lately that could have led to my weight regain?”

This second thought, or response, is what I want to focus on in this article.

Identifying Choices & Actions

Allowing this second thought to be heard and attended to, instead of just the first thought, is key. I am not perfect; nobody (except my dog) is.  I can lose track or awareness of what I am doing, eating, etc.  The key isn't perfection, or believing that it’s possible to never gain weight again; the key is to respond differently when and if you do face weight regain.

The key is to get—and use—the tools you need to stop the runaway train in your head, because that train always leads to more scolding, blaming, and ultimately, more eating.  It only takes you even further away from what you really want—which is to understand what you are doing, own it, and make some choices that feel better to you so you can support your health and weight loss goals.

Simply put, your attitude and the actions you take based on your attitude, make the difference between getting fatter, or getting the information you need to reverse the cycle of weight regain in its tracks.

So, this month, after I went with my second thought, I made myself comfortable and did what I ask my clients to do when they experience weight regain: I asked myself a series of 5-key questions designed to clarify the main things that are contributing to my weight regain, and identify choices and actions that I can take immediately to get myself back into a weight loss consciousness.

5 Key questions you can use when faced with the same dilemma:

1.  What are you doing differently at home or at work that could be contributing to weight regain?

2. Has your access to food changed in any way recently? Have your grocery shopping habits or portion sizes changed?

3. Do you multitask as you eat?  (How aware are you of what and how much you are eating when you eat?)

4. Have you developed self-care habits that bring you pleasure and support your weight loss?  (If so, have the frequency of those habits changed? If not, what could you imagine doing that would be enjoyable and support taking better care of yourself?)

5. What three actions are you willing to take this week to support shifting your energy from weight regain to weight loss?

REMEMBER: Actions need to be doable, realistic, and have a date and amount of time attached to them.  The more concrete and simple your requests of yourself are, the more likely you are to actually do them.

As I sat down to answer these questions for myself, I got the clarity I needed to make some guesses about what was contributing to my weight regain.  Then, I made a few adjustments (that were practical and realistic for me) based on my answers. I gave myself the next two weeks to see if these adjustments were enough to help me to get back on track, or if I needed to make more.

The tip here is that you don’t need to panic if you experience weight regain.  You just need to see the extra weight as an indicator that something in your emotional or physical experience has shifted for you, and get yourself in a mindset of curiosity about what has shifted, and what you would like to do about that shift.

A major shift in my routine, for example, was that I started buying a Chai Latte every day while traveling, which could have very easily contributed to my weight regain.  Since I happen to discover that I love Chai lattes, I wasn't about to tell myself that I could never have one again; that would have been a set-up for self-sabotage.  Instead, I researched a number of recipes that I could make at home that would still allow me to enjoy my latte while dramatically cutting down on the calorie and sugar content that most lattes have.  This, along with a few other adjustments allowed me to drop 3 of the 4.5 pounds within ten days of my original “aha” moment.

In getting back on the scale and seeing this, I once again felt particularly inspired by the simplicity of this 5-Key question process, and by the results that can emerge when we just give ourselves the space, without judging, to step out of vagueness and risk taking an honest look in the mirror, or on the scale. Only then, can we see the whole picture, wrinkles, and dimples, and consider what we would like to do from there.

jill temkin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jill Temkin, founder, Living Thin Within: has an MA in Psychology and is a Registered Addiction Specialist, with 30 years of experience working in the mental health and addiction fields. Jill established Living Thin Within in response to her own journey for support after WLS. Her mission is to help women thrive in their new bodies by learning how to sustain health and happiness from within.

Read more articles by Jill Temkin!