Are you tired of riding the seemingly endless roller coaster of shedding pounds and then packing them right back on again? Who isn't? This vicious cycle of ups and downs can wear on you after years of struggling with extra pounds. Living like this often leaves you feeling shame, guilt, frustration, disappointment, helplessness, hopelessness and defeated. Well, I'm here to tell you that you don't have to keep living like this. You have the power to stop cycling and start living the life you so deserve, in a body that is fit and strong. How?

There is a critical first step you must take, and that is to identify what happened the last time(s) you were doing well and then regained weight. This exercise is a real eye opener. Patterns emerge that you need to be on red alert for. The point is that until you understand what derailed you, you're not prepared when something like this hits you again. You know by now that I'm constantly teaching my patients and all of you that the key to successfully surviving all of life's challenges, including weight management, is to learn how to adapt and adjust and move on. This is easier when you have learned valuable lessons from past experiences so that you quickly see patterns emerging and then can navigate stresses without resorting to the fridge.

On my Weight Loss and Fitness message board, I challenged the board visitors to fill in the following sentence, "I was doing just fine until ______", as it related to dropping and regaining weight. I'm thrilled to say the postings as still coming in and we're having a lively discussion about what happens to each of us when regain occurs. Here are some of those postings.

"stayingtunedformaint" wrote:

"I Was Doing Great UNTIL I forgot what it takes for me to stay at 136 lbs...After shedding my excess weight, while I was at 136 lbs, I was eating lighter, leaner, healthier, and exercising consistently: it was my number 1 priority for myself!... When my focus is not on behaving in the healthier way, I behave off track: hence, weight gain and not exercising. I forget that eating lighter, leaner, healthier foods and exercising are so important for me. It's as if I still don't realize that this is the way of life for me for life. As I'm typing this, I realize I haven't fully embraced this idea yet: I need to surrender to the goodness of it all. During some of my cardio work-outs, I do of the songs I dance to is by Bette Midler: "As Dreams Go By." I don't know if my message will be understood, but, I understand where I am at with this now...thanks for asking us to complete the sentence and to share, Dr. Peeke."

"Bugsgrandma" shared her thoughts:
"I was doing great until I stopped doing great. Like a train flying off the track I gained 40 pounds back over the past two years. I kept telling myself I could get back on track easily after this happened or that. You know the after the chocolate cake is gone I can. Monday I will start. I worked very hard to lose the weight and I did not put it back over night. So I am back on track and I know I can."

And Sadue commented:
"I was doing great until DECEMBER happened and emotional eating came around with force. Threw me right off.... Now Im working right back on track but seems like I lost ground needlessly. Ultimately, awareness at the right time & support & a little control just does NOT exist in December !!!!"

And there are lots more so make sure to log onto our message board, review these great stories and share your own.

Can you relate to their experiences? You better believe it. Here are a few key points I want you to keep in mind as you work hard to achieve your healthiest, most fit body and strive to keep it going despite life's challenges. There are plenty more, and I'll be writing more about this in future blogs, but these are great starters.

  1. Stay vigilante. The minute your drop your vigilance about eating, physical activity and stress management, you'll gradually fall back to old self destructive behaviors. It's a slippery slope. One cookie becomes 6, late night eating creeps back, and one pound becomes twenty. Vigilance does not mean you're obsessing about every bite or gym session. It simply means you're paying attention enough not to slip back into old habits, and you're mindful enough to know that every behavior is a choice you're making. You know what got you into this mess in the first place. Heads up and be very aware of your tendencies. Live with your eyes wide open.
  2. Stop fooling yourself. So many people get into trouble when they start listening to the old voices from their more self destructive days. "Oh go ahead, it's just one candy bar. You're thin now and you can handle it." "I'll over eat this weekend and get back to my program on Monday, no sweat." "It's the holidays and I can handle some over eating, no problem. After all, I'm "there" with my weight loss. I'm fine." Wrong, wrong and wrong. Watch out because you're dissociating. You're not paying close attention to the key words "no sweat, no problem". Whenever you hear this self speak, run! Instead, say "no!" and drown out the "weight gain-speak" in your head. There are no short cuts to sustaining your healthy weight. Also, there is no "there". You have to work it every day of your life. It gets easier over time, but you can never rest on your laurels. That's true for everything you've ever achieved in life.
  3. Be consistent. Consistency doesn't mean "perfect". In my books, I write about my 80-20% rule. It means you live within a range of sticking with your lifestyle behaviors. Hit your goals 80% of the time, leaving 20% for being human and having a little slippage here and there. However, this means that when you might have skipped that workout or had 2 servings when 1 was the goal, this isn't a disaster. Just regroup as soon as you can and hit your game.
  4. Practice safe stress. Over eating when stress hits you from all angles is a major factor in weight regain. Sit down right now and write down the kinds of stresses that have packed on the pounds. You may notice that they fall within familiar categories - personal relationships, work related issues, time management, medical conditions, care giving challenges, the list is endless. Once you've identified the persons, places and things that set you off, create proactive strategies for coping with each. If you need help, get help. Friends, family members and counseling professionals are available to guide and coach you as you face each hurdle. Stress is part of life and it is imperative to learn how to adapt and adjust when it rears its head each day of your life. This is an ongoing, lifelong learning process. The great news is that as you work hard to practice safe stress, you'll be regrouping faster and minimizing, if not eliminating, self destructive behavior. In other words, you won't regain the weight.