Tips for Stopping Weight Regain In Its Tracks

Many people who start a diet never “finish” the diet. I know this first-hand, because it took me approximately 632 diet attempts before I finally made it down to my “healthy, happy” weight. I also know it from talking with and helping people who are trying to stay on track with their current weight loss attempt.

It’s so easy to start a diet – and for many people, myself included, it’s so easy to quit the very diet that you were so enthusiastic about in the beginning. Although I quit my diets for a variety of reasons, one problem I often had was my tendency to let a few “regained” pounds stop me from continuing my diet.

My diet thoughts would go something like this: “I’ve done pretty well this week, so I can have a king-sized Snickers bar.” I’d eat the bar, then eat some ice cream to go with the bar, then eat some pretzels to get some salty flavor after I finished the ice cream and then I’d go to bed. I’d repeat said episodes a few times throughout the week, and when I went back to my Weight Watchers meeting the very nice woman at the scale would smile encouragingly at me and say, “I’m sure you’ll do great next week – you did fine this week.” I’d hope that maybe I maintained, but no – inevitably there was a gain.

So, I’d swing through McDonald’s after my weigh-in and repeat the same eating cycle for week 2. After yet another gain, I’d just throw my hands up into the air and quit. After all, my diet wasn’t working anymore – so why feel deprived?

I often wonder what it is about seeing a gain of a pound or two gets so many of us all bent out of shape. If I handed you a box of margarine that weighs one pound, you wouldn’t think anything of the weight. But if I told you that that one pound of weight could be the catalyst for you to change your mind about losing weight and getting healthy – you might think I was crazy. After all, a pound or two isn’t that much.

My point is – it isn’t that much. A pound or two of weight regain needn’t be the reason for anyone to turn their backs on their weight loss attempt. Instead of letting a pound or two turn into five or 10 pounds, try and put that small gain into perspective.

First, it’s not that much weight. If you put the brakes on the weight regain when the first pound or two comes back – it will be much easier to continue forward down your path. (Little disclaimer here: I’m not talking about normal, hormonal weight gain – I’m talking about weight gain that has happened by eating more than you intended and weight gain that is sticking around for a couple weeks, rather than normal fluctuations.)

Here are some strategies that I employ to put the brakes on weight regain – both when I was losing weight and now in maintenance.

♦I weigh daily. (Beat me up  –  it works for me!!)

♦If I see a gain, I honestly analyze what’s been happening both from an eating and exercise perspective. (Honesty is the key for me – because I’m an expert at justification – just ask my husband.)

♦I go through the pantry and throw anything away that has magically appeared. This could be something relatively low-calorie like pretzels or a definite hard-to-control piece of chocolate cake.

♦I make sure I wear only the closest fitting clothes I have. No exercise pants around the house – no looser “that time of the month” pants. (This helps me remember that a pound or two can easily multiply itself.)

♦I remind myself over the next few days that no food is worth going back into morbid obesity for. No food.

I’d encourage you to not let a slight gain set you back. Be honest with yourself, analyze what’s going on with your life right that minute and have a plan in place that will work for you.

Question: How do you avoid letting a small regain from setting you back?  Diane

A special shout-out to Gina, whose sweet husband Jeff told me about her 50 pound weight loss! Congrats and keep up the good work.

22 thoughts on “Tips for Stopping Weight Regain In Its Tracks

  1. Miz says:

    for me when I first lost weight it was a pair of JEANS.
    I knew they should fit easily (as in I shouldnt need crazy workouts or watching my calories) and be comfy (not skin tight) and when they werent—-I knew it was time to kick things back up a notch 🙂

  2. Sharon says:

    Great reminder for me as I’m getting ready to start maintenance in a few short weeks! YIPPEE!! I am also a huge supporter of weighing every day, so that will always be a morning wake-up call for me. After all these years, I know my body well and usually know before stepping on the scale what it will say. I also usually know why it says that and what to do to fix it. I believe I’ve learned my lesson this time around and the 1-2 pounds gains (if they happen!!) won’t stay around long!

    Finished your book last night. I’ve been reading a chapter each night before going to bed. I think it’s going to be a best-seller! Hope you’ll remember those of us who knew you back then…before you were REALLY famous! Just kidding – congratulations on a great book. It obviously has a lot of hard work and
    “soul” in it!

  3. Mary Ellen Quigley says:

    I don’t know how to keep a small regain from setting me back. I’ve been regaining for two weeks, and I feel like banging my head against the wall. It’s only two pounds, but two pounds can very easily turn into five pounds. The biggest reason for this is my lack of exercise. So, that is my game plan for this week. I have also started weighing in every morning. We’ll see, but I know I don’t want to go back to where I was before.

  4. WishfulShrinking says:

    I like the explaination of if you were cooking and while takeing a dozen eggs to the counter from the fridge and one dropped on the floor and broke you wouldn’t just throw all of the eggs on the floor would you.
    I really think the key to sucess is your honest analysis peice and that is not easy for me thank goodness I have a sponsor who I have to be honest with to keep me on the beam. I see a pattern with myself though that I put emotion with anything that has numbers involved. My weight, meassuring my food, our bank account I am overly emotional and so it is hard to be honest so I have to act against my nature. Instead of hide what I eat I post it on my blog, I commit it to a sponsor I meassure all of it to make sure I am eating exactly what I said other wise a medium apple could be a crab apple if I feel fat or an apple as big as my head if I am hungry. Great Post as always! I am really enjoying reading your book!

  5. Dr. J says:

    If you gain 2 pounds pay attention…if you gain 5 pounds PANIC!!


    PS The diet math expert that I mention on my current column weighs herself EVERY day!

  6. Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count says:

    Great tips, Diane. After my Saturday weigh-in at Weight Watchers (I’m religious about NO weigh-ins except at WW…it works for me) I would spend the evening with a bag of chips. A BIG bag of chips. In March, 2011 I gave up chips for Lent. During that time, I realized that my weight was going down and I was below my WW goal without any trouble. Easter came and I continued with No Chips. Now 14 months later, with No Chips I am under goal and feeling so much more in control. I think if there’s a food that doesn’t work for you, it needs to go away. Will I ever eat chips again? I don’t know…I miss them and I love them, but obviously, they don’t work for me. I’m beginning to think I need to do the same thing with peanut butter… 🙁

  7. Karen@WaistingTime says:

    I have not yet employed this, but I know many who use the concept of a red line. If they gain enough to hit that number, they go back into some “diet’ mode vs. maintaining mode.

  8. Amanda says:

    I don’t weigh myself every day, but if I know I’ve been overdoing it on something (*ahem* Chipotle *ahem*), I kick myself right onto that scale and stare the evil dial straight in the eye. If it’s being pleasant, I figure I got lucky and straighten myself out. If it’s saying something I’d prefer not to read I figure I got what I worked for and straighten myself out 🙂

    Oh, and clothes that fit well simply cannot be over-emphasized. All my slacks fit me at my “right” weight, and if I go more than a standard hormonal fluctuation over that they become uncomfortable. They’re not inappropriate looking, so I can easily still wear them to work, but it isn’t a pleasant experience.

    Nothing like twisting around at your desk to make you eat what you brought from home for lunch!

  9. nan @ lbddiaries says:

    I am learning not to let the number on the scale dictate my attitude or plans but to use it as a warning system or celebration time (NO food). For so long, it didn’t seem to move yet I knew my clothes were getting looser. I use both to keep me in check and am learning not to beat myself up for a slight gain. It’s hard because I’m too used to beating myself up since I know exactly what caused the gain (the problem with keeping a food diary).

    I thought I was the only one who had to “go through the pantry and throw anything away that has magically appeared.” I’m still amazed how those foods magically appear. I’ve cleaned out cabinets so many times looking for the gremlins who keep putting wrong foods in there!

  10. michelle says:

    just wondering, do you have any possible or likely explanation for a 1 lb weight gain while still strictly adhering to same food and exercise plan that helped me lose 49 pounds in the last 7 months? I’m over 54 years, past menopause, so don’t think hormones have anything to do with it? I’m the type that always looks for reasons for EVERYTHING, and it’s so frustrating for this to happen, as I’m so close to my original goal of 50 lb loss. I need to lose about another 20-25 lbs to be at a really healthy weight according to BMI, etc, so it’s not like this is the ‘last 5-10 lbs’ –I have plenty of fat hanging around…literally, lol! any ideas? I don’t mind the plateaus so much (at least I say I don’t..) but really a weight gain when I’m working so hard is very frustrating!!

  11. Cindy says:

    I SO needed to read this post today! I’ve been on this journey for almost a year now. I lost 35 lbs and have recently gained back what feels like about 5 lbs. Granted, we went away on a 4-day vacation and I really just let loose for the most part. I have actually been maintaining at my current weight for about 6 months now and need to lose about 30 more lbs. I know what I am doing and what I am not doing to get the rest of the weight off. It’s a no brainer. This time when we went away and came back I felt like just blowing everything off and throwing in the towel. I was in a ‘I’ll never get this weight off so why bother’ mood for a day and just snapped out of it and did a LOT of SELF-TALK. The self-talk had a lot to do with me realizing that this is the EXACT same pattern that I’ve gone through before when the weight just started coming back on and I can’t even say that I even noticed – or I guess, cared. I have learned one important thing this time around and that is never give up. Period. Just pick yourself up, acknowledge the fun (or not so fun) times, and just move on to what you were doing. That’s what I’ve done and I know that even though it may take longer than usual I’ll eventually get there with one attitude and mindset. DON’T QUIT.

  12. E. Jane says:

    This post was very timely for me, as I have started on WW, at the invitation of a friend. I actually posted about this experience today, as it feels like a new start for me, in the middle of some chaos in my life. Everything you say makes such good sense, and that’s exactly what we lose track of when we throw up our hands and quit following our plan after just one indiscretion, a trip, or when a difficult situation enters our lives. It just makes things worse, and it doesn’t have to be that way! I loved the weight loss strategies! Have a great weekend!

  13. Jody - Fit at 54 says:

    Diane, you know I have written about this before & especially with aging! 😉 I am a daily weigher too & yes, beat me up if ya think ya can! 😉 At 5’1″, every pound counts! With age, even more so. I understand the ups & downs from years at this BUT I also am honest with myself & know if I have or have NOT eaten things that might cause it. When it gets to 4+ pounds & not coming down, I take action just like you mentioned in your post.

    Age, a whole different thing & sometimes action is needed even when I have been doing all the same things as I wrote about this week & have been writing about since my 50’s hit! 🙂

    LISTEN to Diane! Don’t wait – it creeps up fast! 🙂

  14. Caron says:

    I weigh almost every day — usually five to six times a week. It is helpful to me and I weigh once in the morning and go on about my day. The clothes that fit idea is one I forget about. I’ve spent a lifetime in elastic waist pants and since I’m not working outside the home now, I spend a lot of my time in pajama pants. I’m all about comfort. Still, it has worked over and over for me to wear my jeans that fit for a holiday dinner or a meal out when I know the choices won’t be the best for me.

    I don’t have to throw anything out of the pantry (unless it’s peanut butter) but I do have to get things moved back to my daughter’s room She has a lot of snacks. 🙂

  15. Elizabeth says:

    I think close analysis is important when there is a real weight gain. I have to stop and think about my meals that week. I don’t journal my food; however, I wish I had the time to keep track of meals. I often find eating out to be my major issue for weight gain, so I will make a rule for only one restaurant meal the next week.

    I can also remember sabatoging myself and beating myself up for a weight gain. I have to do some serious self-talk about not letting a small gain ruin all of my hard work. It is so easy to put weight on but oh so difficult to lose it!

  16. Anne Green says:

    It is easy to start a diet yet it is necessary to have a dedication to loss weight. Dedication can really a good motivation to achieve a diet plan. When starting a diet, it is better to determine first that you can’t be able to go on while stopping at the middle yet you invest time and effort already.

  17. Evilcyber says:

    You said it right in the beginning: the key is to keep weighing yourself. Too many people reach their target weight, forget about stepping on the scale, eat like they did before and the weight will so slowly creep back on them, that only on one sudden day they realize: I’m fat again.

  18. Margaret says:

    Hi there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through your articles. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same topics? Thanks!

  19. Taryl says:

    Well you know me and my blog, I do much the same as you. No excuses, no weight creep. I keep accountable, don’t get bigger clothes, and work it off. Sometimes it has been a bigger mental challenge than others, especially a year ago, but like you said, there is NO food worth going back to morbid obesity and so I take steps to correct, accordingly.

  20. Mairi Brown says:

    I just wanted to post that thanks to your recent blog I pulled out my scary bathroom scale and got on it for the first time in way too long. I wasn’t happy with the number I saw but it also wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I’ve put it in a place I have to pass every morning and I’ve committed to getting on it every morning. Thanks!

  21. Ryan says:

    Great post! I agree with the point you made about the struggle associated with regaining weight. One thing I’ve found to be extremely helpful and useful as a supplement to my current diet/exercise plan is Fullbar ( Their gummies and bars help curve my hunger, help me with portion control and keep me from consuming more calories than I really need.

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