If you’ve ever lost weight only to regain it back, you know how frustrating this can be.
For men and women alike, regaining weight can be devastating. You begin to feel like a failure.
In my experience, both personally and professionally, there are many reasons for this yo-yo roller-coaster ride, which I’ve boiled down to the top 3, presented below in no particular order.
Certainly getting new clothes, fitting into your old clothes, and receiving compliments can be enjoyable. But after the novelty wears off, often a lower weight isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, on a physical level you are more comfortable and find it easier to move around, but you discover that this isn’t the only cause of your unhappiness and lack of fulfillment.
For many years you imagined that once you got your weight under control, you would feel better. When you don’t, it can be quite a shock. After all, you’ve been “good” for so long and have been doing everything right. You’ve stayed on your food plan, exercised, made important lifestyle changes, just like most of the books say. You’ve followed all the directions, but still … something isn’t right. That’s a real bummer. After all that effort, what the hell! No big continuing payoff! Might as well have an extra desert this weekend. And so it begins.
All along, you’ve thought the problem was your weight and/or your excess or emotional eating, and have tried all sorts of things to get these “problems” under control, which often makes them worse. Many people regain whatever weight they lost plus some, and eventually lose the ability to control anything they eat. Very scary. But only because they’ve been looking at things upside down. Excess weight and disordered eating can be symptoms of deeper problems. Or in a weird way, they can be seen as attempted solutions to deeper problems. But when you focus solely on them they actually become problematic, as long as your real issues go undetected and unchanged.
What are the real issues? For most, it boils down to not feeling good about yourself. Each person has a unique set of individual concerns they need to face, in varying order. While there are too many to mention here, the main categories include being comfortable feeling emotions, thinking self-negating thoughts, not accepting your wants and needs, having unsatisfying relationships, and not being at peace with yourself. Dealing with these takes work, sometimes a lot of personal work. And that’s difficult. So people give up, because the food is easier and familiar.
Fear of Real Change
If you’ve never reached goal weight before (i.e., you start regaining before you get there), it can be very scary to actually get there, and can take some getting used to. And if you’re uncomfortable with compliments and/or attention to your physical self, no matter how positive, that too can be highly disconcerting. If you’re used to thinking of yourself as fat, or heavy, or overweight – that is, if these descriptions have been part of your identity for a long time — it can take a while to know deep-down that you’re no longer there. It can take a while to get used to seeing a regular sized person stare back at you in the mirror, or a normal size person (whatever that is nowadays). And all that then begs the question, what are the descriptions you are willing to accept?
In addition to physical changes, there are probably changes you need to make in your thinking, attitudes, beliefs, emotional awareness, self-esteem, self-acceptance, relationships, and the way you do things, to name just a few. You may need to deal with trauma, neglect, abuse, discrimination, and a host of other difficulties. Scary. Unfamiliar. Sometimes quite uncomfortable. How much easier to seek comfort in the familiar old way – with food.
Despite its pain, you know the routine by heart, and you’re used to it. And so it goes. Until. Until you do the real inner work.