One reason many women fall back to their old eating behaviors when they lose weight is simply this: They have a naive belief that all they had to do was change their habits for that certain period of time, that they have indeed completely changed, and they have it made.
Going against these beliefs is research that shows how people need to be actively involved in maintaining any changes they’ve made. Real behavioral change is never a brief affair for people—it does not happen quickly. Human nature doesn’t work that way. There are things that need to happen in order for change to really take hold.
Here’s one scenario that is all too common. You lose weight, and then a funny thing happens. You start to forget the negative impact on your life due to the weight you were at before. In fact, the farther away you get from all that overeating, the less you remember how you really felt when you were heavier. You even begin to idealize how it was when you could eat anything you wanted to eat, how satisfying it was. You start missing it like crazy.
As you might have guessed, thinking this way can easily reignite your desire to overeat, and send you right back to it. Therefore, one of the things you may need to do in order to keep the positive change you’ve made is to counter this kind of idealized thinking. It’s important to acknowledge and remember the negative aspects of carrying around that extra weight, and of eating too much. And you need to do this without resorting to self-criticism about how you acted then, because that also can lead to slipping back. Without recrimination, you can revisit the problems in your life that were created by your excessive weight. This will help reinforce your change.
You won’t need to deal with things like this forever. If you pay attention to yourself and your thinking and behavior after you lose the weight, if you don’t think reaching that number on the scale is the end of it, you’ll be well on your way to making your weight loss a permanent state of affairs