5 Things I Have Learned Since Gaining The Weight Back

April 18, 2009 · 35 comments

As my faithful readers know, I have been in the slump to end all slumps. Thank you for the support you showed on my last post, I Am The World’s Worst Weight Loss Blogger. I have yet to figure out all the pieces I need to shake out of this slump, but in the end I know what I need to do and I just have to figure out how to start doing it. You guys are helping even though it may not seem like it at times.

So I thought I would use the opportunity to document some things I have learned on the way back up - not the journey I had intended to take but I did and I need to learn from it. Here are 5 Things I Have Learned Since Gaining The Weight Back:

1. I think about re-starting the diet at the wrong times.
It’s happened enough now that I have detected the pattern - when I have been off my diet and gaining weight the time when I start thinking to myself that this time will be different and that I will absolutely be starting my diet immediately is right after I just stuffed myself. I’m sure it’s some sort of natural guilt reaction but I can say with confidence that the diets or lifestyle changes that are thought about in such states never actually get off the ground. Why can’t I think about these things when I am being good, shouldn’t it be easier to just continue to be good?

So how would one go about addressing this problem? Maybe have a timer that goes off at random periods throughout the day and that is your cue to think about being healthy? I can see that working - anyone know if it exists?

2. I need to learn how to better handle success
The weight I lost at the beginning of my weight loss journey that I am documenting here is the second time I have lost a noticeable amount of weight in the last dozen years. In both cases there was a series of common events that occurred at the tipping point of me gaining the weight back again. People started giving me compliments. I don’t understand the psychology of why this might be, but it sure seems like a trend. It’s almost as if my willpower wanes once I have achieved that recognition from others, even though I was far from my goals.

How to combat this one? Maybe instead of getting compliments being an unsaid goal (who doesn’t hope for compliments?) I need to make it an actual, measurable goal. Number of new people complimenting me on my weight loss in a month? Maybe that would help keep the drive alive.

3. It sucks to be fat.
Obvious, I know. But it needs to be said. I’m now wearing the one pair of fat pants I kept in addition to a couple of new pairs I had to buy. My only black belt is at the first notch and I can’t gain any more weight otherwise I’ll need to buy a new one. When I get out of my work pants at the end of the day I have a sore belly from where my belt buckle was rubbing all day. I’ve had to buy a bunch of new, larger dress shirts for work. I look and feel older. We are implementing high definition video conferencing at work and let me tell you the camera sure does add 25 pounds. Either that or I am just fat. Oh wait, I am. That sucks!

4. The weight comes back slowly - but time marches on.
I have always been of the belief that while it takes forever to lose weight, it can get piled on very quickly. In fact, I’m starting to think the opposite - at least for someone who has as much weight to lose as I do it does seem in hindsight that I was able to lose weight pretty rapidly but that it has taken a lot longer to put it back. Look at the slope on my weight loss graph at the start of my journey compared to the upslope since. I have been gaining weight for longer than I was losing it. But lately it has accelerated as bad habits compound. It doesn’t matter how long it actually takes to gain that weight - if you are moving in that direction it’s bad, you can’t fight time.

5. I have the knowledge, what I need is willpower.
I absolutely know what I have to do to lose weight. It’s not colon cleansing and it’s not acai berries. I know what fast food is OK for me, I know how to moderate my portions, I know what food I should eat in moderation. I know that even simple walking will help and that I don’t need a complete home gym or public gym membership to succeed. Pretty much anything will work when you are ingesting fewer calories than you burn.

But even knowing all that I fail, and it’s because I don’t have the willpower that I need. Willpower to start again after I have fallen, willpower to keep going when times are tough. I don’t know how one gets willpower, but I need to figure it out.

So that’s some things I have learned. But will I take them to heart?

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JC April 18, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Wow, good for you on laying everything out there for the world to see. I have been waiting for an update!

I think you should take inventory of exactly what you want in terms of body composition, body weight goals etc. Then write it all down on a piece of paper.

Under that start a new paragraph with all of your Why’s. Of course these are all going to be personal and will be formed by the beliefs that are important to you. Then think again about what you really want.

Once you figure out what you want to do regarding your current body weight struggles then you can form a plan to commit to. I think it would be awesome if you were to journal daily whether in a note book or in blog format. Write out your daily successes and failures in detail. Over time this will give you a clear idea of what you really need to focus on when committing to weight loss and keeping it off long term.

You can do this, just as anyone else can. However, like you said, it all comes down to will power. That’s it. Now you have to find yours.

Lyn April 18, 2009 at 1:11 pm

I think you are on the right path, simply because you have not given up.

I sure don’t have all the answers, but I do know that starting is the hardest part. A few good days under your belt and it should get easier. Maybe just pick a date, say “that’s it” and knuckle down and do it whether you feel like it or not.

Best wishes on your journey.

Greg April 18, 2009 at 3:48 pm

It’s tough when life throws you a curve. The hardest time to try changing your life is when its in turmoil. And from what you’ve said in the last few posts, you’ve had turmoil in spades.

Once things get settled down for you, and you get stability back in your life, it will be much easier to attack the weight situation. For the moment, you realize its an area of weakness. Be attentive to it, but don’t beat yourself up for slip-ups.

Best of luck.

FitBethlin April 18, 2009 at 4:41 pm

In my mind, the first step is the same as the first step everyone else uses - acknowledge the problem. Which you did. Right on - minigoal number one is MET.

And after that, I work best if I let weight loss sneak up on me. I don’t mean not trying or not researching new ideas or not writing in the blog. Just not focusing on the weight loss. Just do one better thing today and really truly give up on caring about the results. And next week, add one better activity. Etc. etc.

I have no idea how to go REALLY stop caring about results and staying focused on doing the right behaviors without focusing on the weight loss goal. I just know that’s the mental state I’m in when I do my best work.

Good luck and thanks for posting about the downs and ups of this process.

W. Jackson April 18, 2009 at 5:11 pm

These points that you listed, I am very familiar with. It is awful, you get so close, but mess up. I am new to this weightloss thing and I have attempted to lose this same weight for a long time. I get close, but something always happens where I mess things up. My appetite tends to change at certain times of the month. That is what really throws me off. Also, I do good Monday-Thursday, but Friday-Sunday is a different story.

It has helped me to write about my ups and downs. Being able to see what I have done is a benefit. Don’t be so hard on yourself and take everyday one day at a time. At least you know you have the tools to lose the weight.

Good job! You will get to a point where you know! I found your blog because I am signed up for weightloss alerts. I truly enjoy reading what you have to say and I can relate.

W. Jackson

AndrewE April 19, 2009 at 2:14 am

One thing that shines through is that there is no easy fix. I’m back to a hour at a time at the moment myself - nevermind a day at a time.

Lori April 19, 2009 at 6:44 am

Thanks for such an honest post. There is a reason why it is often termed “struggling with weight”. Weight loss sounds so easy on paper, and for some it is, but for many of us what you have written above is how we live our lives in approach to food.

You have a great start in finding things to think about. The action plan that you formulate from asking these questions will really help you locate the keys that are important for you as the individual. There is no 1 right way for everyone. Studies have shown that the most successful dieters who have maintained weight loss for several years or more have done so by formulating their own plan out a myriad of other ‘set’ programs and making it fit them.

One thing I would suggest - you don’t need willpower. You need dedication. Become dedicated to one thing this week, whether that is tracking your food, getting in your water, exercising. Dedicate yourself fully to that one thing. Then, add another. That is how you slowly build a rock solid path that becomes easier to stay on and more difficult to stray from.

TB--Milwaukee April 19, 2009 at 8:22 am

It definitely sucks to be fat. I’ve been noticing a lack of energy and I thought I was the only one with a belt two sizes too small.

Chubby Chick April 19, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Hang in there, John! I’ve been on a dieting roller coaster ever since I started my blog in Aug. 2007. But I’m still here. You’re still here. We didn’t give up… and we’re not going to!

You CAN do this. You’ve proven that. And I have every confidence that you will lose this weight once and for all. I’ll definitely be rooting for you!

So… here’s to forgetting the past and forging ahead! Let this be a brand new beginning to a wonderful present and future! :)

Israel April 19, 2009 at 9:12 pm

It’s all in your head. Your last point about having the knowledge and lacking willpower is so crucial, in my case that is…

I have all this knowledge, info, etc and it all comes down to me applying it.

Maybe hypnosis or self hypnosis?

Angie April 19, 2009 at 9:31 pm

If there is one trite saying that I have learned is absolutely true it is that for those of us born with the “survivor” gene (because frankly if we were cavemen we’d still be kicking after the long cold winter unlike some of those twiggy runway model cavemen - but alas we don’t have to chase dinosauers anymore so instead of surviving we have become the fat descendents - sorry I digressed) so anway, what I have learned is that it really is a life long struggle. Up and down and all around the scale but in the end your health and your state of mind are the real determiners of success. So hang in there. You are doing well. You are still thinking of weight loss. The battle is not yet over.
Sorry about my quirky posts - I hope you don’t mind them, or my reading too much.
Have a great week and tomorrow - take a walk. I’ve got a dog I’d could loan you - heck I’d give her to you if you want her…

Annalisa April 20, 2009 at 4:12 am

Hey - you haven’t given up hope, and that’s the spark that will start the fire. It’s so good to read this post, because it’s a similar mindset that I’m going through right now. For me (for everyone is different) just all this “realization” that’s been going on in my life, and (key step here) SHARING my realization on my blog, is enough to motivate me, and help me keep my commitments. But to each is own (is that how that saying goes?)

Anyway - I am truly wishing you all the best. And congratulations on not giving up. That’s all it takes, ya know?

MizFit April 20, 2009 at 5:25 am

Im so impressed you are favcing this head on and shouting from the rafters than youre not giving up.

I know too many of us regain and slink off never to be heard from again (uh, in the blog world I mean…not in general).
if you think of a way I can help you know where to find me.


Carole April 20, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Hi John,

I don’t think weight loss is a good enough motivator for you. At the slightest success you’ll continue to go back to your old way of eating, and that will never work.

But, if you have a shift in thinking - What is it costing you to continue unhealthy eating? Being uncomfortable in your clothes? Pride? Health problems? No energy? No motivation? Depression? Is this how you want to feel for the rest of your life? Do you want to face the diseases that will come if you continue down this path?

Or would you love to be healthy and full of energy to enjoy life? What would your life be like?

Ask yourself - would the person I want to be eat like that? Will eating this make me feel good, or bad?

Stop thinking like a fat person. Stop dieting.

Start thinking like a healthy person who loves living life. When you eat healthy, you’ll never have to diet again.

MamaBearJune April 21, 2009 at 2:55 am

I think it’s very similar to quitting smoking. You can half-heartedly “try” to quit several times until you DECIDE you are going to quit and truly WANT it. For me, it’s a health issue. I want to be healthy. I want to be around to enjoy grandchildren if the Lord blesses me with them. I want to be able to play with them as my mom did with my kids before Muscular Dystrophy slowed her down. I don’t want to be too fat to enjoy hiking in the mountains and getting to places for fabulous photography that you can’t reach by driving down a road.

I’ve had times where I am active, but not eating healthy. Then times when I’m eating healthy but not exercising. Those times I plateau and will not lose or sometimes gain. It takes BOTH eating well and exercising. And it takes many decisions each and every day to CHOOSE the healthy path. It’s NOT easy. It’s hard work and there’s no magic pill, powder or berry that’s going to do it. Only I can do it for myself. And only you can do it for your health. I know you can do it. Start NOW, don’t wait for some specific time or place. It’s awesome that you are continuing to blog and working it all out.

Charlie G. April 21, 2009 at 8:36 am

Thanks for post, starting a diet and initial weight loss I can do.

Keeping on track and making sustainable life changes, is what I struggle with.

I can relate to your observations. Good luck in this next stage.

Tami April 22, 2009 at 9:56 am

I’m a new reader here and wanted to let you know that I admire your honesty and as long as you dont give up and keep trying you are never a failure.

Another Loser April 22, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I blog about my weight loss. Maybe I can inspire you. You never know. I’m down 31 pounds since Jan 2. I need someone who can inspire me too.

This isn’t a diet. You know that. Count your calories today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And it will begin again.

GeorgieGirl April 23, 2009 at 1:48 am

Hey there! Don’t give up. I know you can do this and get it figured out so it’s a life long weight loss. I have been following your blog since the beginning, and I know you have all the will power and the knowledge to make it work for you.

I thought I had it all figured out. Boy was I wrong. I had to start all over too. Of course it wasn’t convenient to start losing weight on Easter Sunday, but that’s the day I had my “Oh-no! What have I done” moment. The following week wasn’t really convenient either. Timing is everything… and the timing sucks for me. The timing sucks big time. But I have to make it work this time.

I’m looking forward to hearing more from you.

Carmen Queazy April 23, 2009 at 2:17 am

Hi there! It all sounds too familiar! I too have had 3 incredibly successful diets only to slowly put the weight back on. However, I am determined this will be my last and only time! You have to try right? Surely we learn something each time? If nothing else surely we’ll get tired of this yo-yo-ing!

Let’s put it this way, you have nothing to lose by trying again that’s for sure!

Best of luck!!!

p.s. I am documenting this last attempt in my blog mostly to give me additional motivation to stick to it!

Fatdude164 April 25, 2009 at 5:46 am

As long as you’re still breathing, you still can make that change today! You’ve succeeded before i am very sure you still can. It’s a matter of how badly you want that back!

Come on John, you can do it….AGAIN!

Elle April 26, 2009 at 12:22 am

Hi, John. I’m new to your blog, being new to this deciding to lose weight thing, but you’re already such an inspiration. You can do this!!

Alex April 30, 2009 at 2:21 pm

You and I are in the same boat, John. I think you just said basically everything I’ve said to myself 100 times.

I’ve lost 80 pounds and put back on 140. I’m down 9 of that now, but, like you, my start was online.

I think both of our first steps is these blogs. Letting others hold us accountable. I joined a website where there is a lotta community support which helped me lose the weight before. I thought I could do it on my own and then when I gained back the weight the shame made me not go back. If I had gone there sooner I would have stopped myself. Just don’t lose your support system.

I wish you success!

Mandamoo May 2, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Don’t feel down- I think most of us have been there. I lost about 40 lbs a few years ago…and I’ve gained a lot of it back too. Not all of it, but enough to make my best clothes not fit and to make me self-conscious. You have a lot of people rooting for you, it sounds like. You CAN do this! Heck, I think I can too. I hope!

JJ May 7, 2009 at 8:05 am

Gaining back weight does suck. I have been there as well. Just like you, it was also due to new job, new environment and stress - Overtime till 12 am, chasing clients etc.

But look at this way, it teaches us new things. We are learning from our mistakes for the better.

I don’t think you will have problem to get back on track. It will take some time and effort but it shouldn’t be a huge problem for you. Because you are John! You’ve done it once, you can do it again. Better and stronger even.

Petra Weiss May 7, 2009 at 9:35 am

It’s funny, you know, I am reading your post, especially the part about you knowing everything to lose weight, and I have to think this is sooooo true! Aren’t we kidding ourselves still looking for the “answer” to weight loss - I mean, I am sure that nearly everybody who has been trying to lose weight for a while knows EXACTLY what to do, so that’s not the problem! We KNOW what to do to lose weight. The problem is that we don’t seem to be able to stick to a change most of the time. That’s my biggest problem, too…. I know the ins and outs of nearly every diet, and I know what to eat, when to eat, how to eat… but can’t stick to it. That SUCKS. I feel with you. :(

Hopeful May 8, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Wow. #2 is a big one for me. And your thought of making compliments a goal…what a revolutionary idea! I need to stop being afraid of the attention. I can’t get into it here, but I think I had an epithany. Thank you!

Todd Johnson May 10, 2009 at 12:12 am

Hello, I just recently came across your blog and really liked it. With personal weight loss blogs its interesting to see the progression of one’s weight loss/ gain over time. I also have a blog, but I tend to focus on general weight loss tips, and keep myself out of the picture! Anyways, ur brave for telling the world your failures and successes

good luck with the weight loss

Petra Weiss May 12, 2009 at 6:29 am

Todd, I also have a weight loss blog and originally intended just to give information and tips, but after coming across a few personal weight loss sites like John’s I am in the stage of considering making mine a bit more personal, too. You just seem to connect more with your readers…:)

FitnessGoddess May 24, 2009 at 7:55 am

Hello Everyone!

I would like to introduce myself I am a fitness lifestyle and nutrition expert. I’m here to help women who are having weight problems. you can check my blog http://www.erinhuggins.com/blog/ for more tips about losing weight and also i have a delicious recipe called Low Fat, Low Dairy Chocolate ice cream. its very mouth watering and super delecious you can check my youtube for that recipe just type in Low Fat, Low Dairy Chocolate Ice Cream you can also check my workout routine there and some pilates.http://www.youtube.com/erinhuggins

Thank You


Laretha June 3, 2009 at 2:32 pm

I just linked to your blog from workoutmommy.

Your last point about knowing what to do but not doing it - not lacking knowledge, rather will power - is totally me. I have tried fad diets or something that worked for others when all along I know what I need to do.

Thank you for your transparency. It is truly a journey and not always an easy one!

I will be posting about your competition and will comment back once I have.

Thanks Laretha, great to hear from a new voice.

MB June 10, 2009 at 9:29 pm

I just found your blog again (via Tony the AntiJared) and have been catching up on some old posts.

WOW! I feel exactly the same way. It is such a brutal battle but I have to believe we’ll eventually figure it all out.

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