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The Shame and Pain of Regaining

By , SparkPeople Blogger
This past Monday I had the rare opportunity to sit in front of the television for a few minutes before my husband came home from work. While channel surfing, I came across The Oprah Winfrey Show featuring a much heavier Kirstie Alley. I had not seen the original air date of the show, so I was quite fascinated to hear how she regained the weight she worked so hard to lose. Her story was followed by a segment featuring Michael Hebranko, once touted by the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the world's greatest dieters. In the early 1990's, this man had lost 700 pounds in 19 months, only to regain the weight he had worked so hard to lose.

What struck me while watching Kirstie chat with Oprah was her humility and candor about regaining all the weight she had lost. I can only imagine how hard that must have been. While there were lots of jokes and jabs made about her downfall, it was as though you could sense her pain and disgust at having put the weight back on. She was honest in saying that she knew exactly why she regained her weight. Like many of us know all too well, she stopped weighing herself, working out and being mindful of the foods she was eating.

This show hit me with such a jolt of reality and one that I could relate to. Thankfully, my weight loss and subsequent regains were never chronicled by every tabloid on the market; but that still did not mean I did not experience a sense of shame and embarrassment each and every time I regained the weight. In the past, each time I had lost a sizable amount of weight only to regain it, I wondered what others thought of me. Did they see me as a constant failure? Someone who lacked self-discipline? Someone who was destined to be overweight for the rest of her life?

Looking back at the few photos I have of me prior to 2005, I can tell you precisely what diet I was on to get me to that weight, only to see me disappear from the photos just a few months later due to the inevitable weight regain-- too ashamed to be photographed. This was my life for the better part of 32 years.

It was, and still is, a struggle to think that I will never, ever regain the weight which is why running has been so instrumental in helping me face my own demon. The demon being that any moment in time can change the course I am currently on.

Why has this journey been so different from so many past failed attempts? Could I find myself in Kirstie's or Michael's shoes next year? I would like to think that I would not, but I can honestly say I don't know. I do not have a crystal ball but what I do know is that I have the support of a great community that will pick me up even when yes, we as experts, lose our own footing.

One very insightful comment came from Michael Hebranko when Oprah asked if he ever considered weight loss surgery. While he did not condemn those having the surgery, he said that his bypass needed to be here--he then pointed to his head. That was one of those Aha! moments! I realized at that very moment my mind has changed therefore, my life has changed. None of us are destined to be overweight for the rest of our lives. It may take some of us longer to reach our destination, but that is not failure. Failure is falling off the wagon and never having the courage to get back on now matter how many times we fall off.

So here's to all us who have fallen off the wagon and found the inner courage to get back on knowing that this is not a life sentence. Others are here to support you and encourage you even when you feel you do not have it within yourself to do so.

This by far was one of the toughest blogs for me to write. While I know I have come so far in my own personal journey, one never fully knows if they have truly conquered the beast. Time will tell, but I am in it for the fight of my life.

Have you experienced a weight loss only to regain? How did it make you feel? If you have lost weight, do you feel it is only a matter of time before you regain the weight or have you accepted the fact that this journey is about changing your life and not just a number on the scale?

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Great article. But I don't think it is failure to "fall off the wagon" it is failure not to get back on and fight those demons. Report
OPIUMDOLL 7/15/2020
OMGSH yes! Thank you so much for writing this blog. I am so glad I did my dailies today on sparkpeople. I've been a member on sparkpeople for many years (I believe I joined about 2 months after it first began!)

I lost 75 lbs.. and regained 30 in the course of biceps tendonitis (Both arms!)
The physical therapist I was given didn't have help for me really. I tried!! I wound up doing heavy research online and finding some incredible YouTube physical therapy videos for my condition (and began a regime!) I also altered my eating and nutritional supplements to work on the nutritional side of things.

It's been a little over two years. I still have some issues, but I am back working out almost daily. This time MUCH MUCH more carefully. But I too - have been walking the 'shame of regain' (with myself.. nobody has made me feel that way.. but me!)

The article/blog - was such a help to read. Just knowing.. (And then seeing others comments).
Thank you, thank you! This made a difference and hope the author sees this!! *Thank you*

GETULLY 6/28/2020
Yes. Part of the group. Report
_CYNDY55_ 3/9/2020
Thanks Report
Thank you. Report
Absolutely Report
ive been gaining and losing the same 12 lbs for years Report
Seems like I am always there. Worst I am afraid to leave my home Report
Been here did that too many times the last weight loss kept it off for over 4 years. Stress always does me in I still don't have my mind in the right place yet to take off the weight I regained. This time it really hit my self esteem of being able to do Report
I find myself in this group again. I appreciate this blog so much. I am working hard to get back on track. Reading supportive blogs from people who know what I'm going through really helps. We Can Do This! Report
It helps to know I'm not the only one Report
great blog. speaks to me. Report
Good post Report
This article speaks to me on so many levels. I have struggled with the feelings of failure for the last year. After losing 75lbs I gained 20 back although this may not seem like much I had not reached my goal yet. I also struggled because I used a group of people, not sparks, to help me achieve my weight lose and when I did not reach my goal I was told I would gain it all back. This struck a cord with my inner self and hit home giving me the mind set to fail. I allowed someone else to determine my success. After reading this today through my tears I realized I do not need someone to tell me that I will succeed. I do however need myself to allow me to believe I will succeed and can make a difference. I also need to believe that I am not destined to be fat I can be healthy. THANK YOU so much for these MUCH NEEDED WORDS!!! I will pick myself up from the pity party I have been having and move on.
I, too, can join in on this one. Two years ago I lost 30 lbs. to avoid being placed on medication. I felt great and had the labs to prove I didn't need it. Because I felt so great, I ventured away from my newly disciplined life and slowly regained half the weight. I was so angry with myself for allowing it to happen. Today I am once again working to lose the weight to improve my health. And this time my motivation comes from within. Thanks for the article. It's always nice to know you're not alone. Report
I'm fairly certain that, of those active on this site, virtually every one of us has seen the up-down of the yo-yo. I'm thankful that the media is not interested in what I weigh or whether I weigh more this month than I did last month, yet there are always those around who do KNOW--maybe they say something, maybe not! I would love to say with certainty that I won't do that again, but that kind of a declaration puts me in a very dangerous situation and leaves me incredibly vulnerable. I'm here. I'm glad. I'm losing. I'm supported.

Kathy Report
I can totally relate to Kirstie and her off again...on again battle. I have lost many times and then regained. This time though I gained alot and it's harder to get it off. Since starting my life style change with Sparkpeople I am amazed how much support and imformation I have ..... it's going to work this time for me because I am looking at it as a "life style" change, not "I just need to lose weight". Report
This could have been written by me--great blog! I reached goal a few months ago and am so afraid of gaining all my weight back, yet again. I'm right alongside you in the fight of my life. I don't want to disappoint myself again, EVER! I've worked too hard to have to go back to square one. Report
I lost and re-gained weight many times. Not much at a time, 10-15 pounds only, and I always gained back more and more.
What I felt was not really shame and pain, it was helplessness and loss of hope.
Looking back, I'm not surprised about gaining back: I always dieted to reach a certain weight then went back to my usual eating, vaguely hoping that the weight will somehow not come back this time.

Now it is different.
I have maintained my goal weight for 9 months now, watch my food and exercise every day, about 60 minutes. Exercise makes me feel good and I don't need emotional eating to keep me on the surface, only on very few days.
Yes, I have been a yo-yoer for most of my life. Since I was a pre-teen up to a couple of years ago, which was 44 years old. Now I am maintaining. I've been maintaining for 2 years now, for the first time in my adult life. I rember the shape I was in when I met my husband 15 years ago. I like the way I looked then and had just lost 15 lbs. Once we married, I started putting on the weight. I'm still ashamed when I look back at those pictures and I don't understand why I just continued to buy a larger clothes size whenever I needed one, but I never had a support system like Sparkpeople before either. I'm so thankful someone sent me the link! Now, I am more in tune and if I gain a few lbs, I take immediate action. I'm not going up in size again!

Great blog, thank you!! Report
Nancy..That was a wonderful blog for us yo-yo people. I know you will make it this time and I will join you. I feel for those public figures who have to face regain. It seems like Oprah has just given up.
@Brian36 I feel the SAME way! I know that at any second should I choose to allow myself that fast food day, (not meal. DAY), should i start buying sweets to keep in the kitchen etc oh man I'd be in a world of hurt. I now have people meet me and I have to whip out a facebook picture of myself for them to believe I was 305 lbs! I have personally had my ring resized once, now im ready for my second. I wont even keep one size too large clothing unless Im too lazy to run it to the clothing bank lol. There is the one triggering agent for anyone who has been obese in the past. Not all of us know what it is maybe, but when it surfaces, RUN! It may sound bad, but I almost live my life like an ex drug addict. Today I will not eat in excess, junk, or deviate from what my body actually NEEDS. Today is another 24 hour victory even though Ive stayed the same for months now. Here is the scaryiest part. Currently working with my trainer for muscle mass gain, my meal plan is around 3000 calories at the end of the day pumping around 285g protein. I almost feel like im eating the same way as i used to, but its lean meats, good fats etc. I see my self growing again, but this time in a good way and not around the waist :D Report
True confessions time: In my life since my 30's, I been a "lifetime" member of WW three times. So three times I lost the weight, after spending significant money and time, and three times I've gained it all back and more! The first time I was young and tiny and I lost about 30 lbs to get to goal weight. The last time I lost 70 lbs. And guess where I at today? So me, Kirstie and Oprah have some stories to tell and some work to do! We're all three getting a little "old" for all this nonsense we do to ourselves, but we at least aren't giving up yet. Report
I have not been mindful for the last two months and eaten practically everything and anything I wanted to and didn't even care about. I have come back to Spark people because it keeps me mindful. I feel so much better both physically and emotionally. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Today I had two invitations to go out when I was not even hungry and it wasn't time for a meal. I skipped the invitations and stuck to my plan, but I feel bad because I do not yet know how to deal with an invitation to coffee when I don't want anything more than a glass of water! Report
I am you. I have done this same thing over and over. It started at about age 30 - weight gain - lose the weight, gain the weight and then a bit more, lose the weight, etc. you get the picture. I am 55 and once again losing the weight. this time I am determined to keep it off, I have support of some good friends and I am determined to become healthy once and for all and keep the weight off. Report
Nancy, for the blog. I can totally relate to the lose/gain cycle. I have been struggling with my weight issue since puberty. I lost 40+ pounds doing WW a couple of years ago and for some reason stopped trying (not sure why...) I then proceeded to put on 15 of it back. I read about SparkPeople in the paper in July, got motivated and joined--then August came along with vacation and so did the motivation. Now that I'm back in "school" routine, have decided that NOW I can work on this again. It really is a mind-set for me. I have to want to do it for me and I have found SP has helped me with that. I really enjoy reading the blogs and weight loss successes. Keep at it. That's simply what we all need to do! Report
Yes, so many of us are in this "boat" I lost 80 pounds after quitting smoking etc etc and then put much of it back on. Right here at SP. But,, I just knew I would never put that weight on again and was truely heartbroken, still - here I am fighting the battle again, and at least now I know a little more about myself. Thanks, great blog and so helpful to all! donna Report
Every web site for people trying to lose weight has many people on there beginning over and over again, it seems to be the norm. This past year, I finally seem to be able to maintain, just going over my goal weight 5 lbs. but losing that 5 right away, and not letting it get back up to way over 200 lbs. This has been no small feat!!! If hubby hadn't become diabetic, and we don't eat the same way we did anymore due to that, who knows where I'd be though?? You work at it, over and over and over, never throw in the towel!!! Report
have fallen in my diet plans to many times the sound of me falling is no longer paid attention ,I have bounced so high and have a perment hole in front of my home . thank god my hubby doesnt pay attention to me at all . I lost a hundered pounds no notice . gained it all back did not see and dyed my hair blonde nothing . ... at times i feel like giving up . what is in my head . ??? Report
Thank you, I am just starding and it is so hard for me but i sit here and read and read and it motovites me to don't give up thank you !!! Report
Nancy, Thank you for writing this blog--it is easy to see it has hit a chord with many folks including me. I can tell you that I do believe that SP is here for me-my teams are here for me. I got to goal weight last fall and maintained for a few months. But then my one & only child was graduating from college and entering the military. I began stress eating and not exercising as much as I was. I knew better but it was a mindless thing. Thankfully, I remained active on SP and that has been a real blessing. Last Sunday 8/30/09, I re-committed myself and took steps to erase the 12# weight regain. I was finally mentally ready to get back on the horse. I think the difference this time over past regains is that I have SP to support me, guide me and encourage me. I am here for the long haul. Thank you SP! Report
I lost 120 pounds over a two year period while living in a small community and was even leading a group of individuals on this particular weight loss program. I learned alot and felt the freedom of not feeling enslaved by food during this time. I remember enjoying food again not obbsessing over it. I cried when I realised my first thought before I was even out of bed was no longer, " what am I going to eat today." I was riding my bike for miles, running on treadmils for 3 miles, lifting weights, walking daily and life felt good!!!! and then my father started loosing his battle with cancer. I quit leading the weight loss group and slowly quit going completley. I started to not track my foods as closley as I had been. I got sadder and sadder. Then my daddy died. I tried so hard to hold on but I eventually gave in to deppression, and I quit living. The unhealthy eating returned and I was eventualy 140 pounds up. I knew without a doubt the shame of living in a community that saw my success and down fall. I started shopping in the next town over. I was full of self loathing. It has been a long long road to get where I am now. Thanks to the love of my family and particularly, one gentle and persistant daughter, I am on the right track again. One week of being clean and counting! Thank you all for being there and I look forward to our jouney together.
I have lost and gained since 1985. Lost 69 pounds on weight watchers, kept it off for almost 2 years, gained it back plus more, lost again about 50 pounds in 2002, after going up and down several times. I have always been on a "diet" The last few years I have been able to change it to a way of eating, a way of life. I have been off my diabetic meds for a couple of years because I stay away from white foods. My labs have been great! I need to always remember my lost weight is always just a few steps behind me, Sometimes you need to run really fast to keep it off! Report
Everything in the article is so true. I lost 75lbs. back in 2003/2004 ended up gaining it all back plus some. I'm here to make a lifestyle change since I said that there was no way I would be overweight again. Reading other people's experiences really helps. Thank you! Report
I lost 40 pounds in 2002 and kept it off (for the most part) until 2008, when I was laid off from my job at a bank where I worked for 32 years. Since then, I have regained 32 pounds (one pound for every year I worked there - lol).

It's not like I made a conscious attempt to self-destruct. I've been looking for a new job, but competition is fierce and so far I haven't landed anything. In the meantime, I find that I can't tolerate being hungry for very long. I'm around the house so much more now, and so is the food. The minute I get hungry, it's so easy to reach for last night's leftovers in the fridge. Also - now that I have more time on my hands, I visit my mother more often. She bakes up a storm and is always trying new recipes...so it's hard to say no when she offers up a muffin or piece of cake. And she always sends me home with cookies for the family. I seem to have lost the discipline I had when I lost the 40 pounds so long ago.

I try to get back on track with the diet and exercise but can't last more than 2 days before I start craving something that reverses whatever progress I've made. Hopefully I will get back on track soon...if a job opportunity were ever to materialize, all my clothes are too tight and I wouldn't have anything to wear to the interview - lol. Report
I know exactly how she feel, I've been there. I've lost more weight over the past forty years, than any one in my family. But this time I have a good group of people to help me meet my goal. I know its been hard to keep on the right track, but it's worth it. I've haven't always been able to keep to my diet and have fallen off , but I've gotten back up and started over again. Something never use to do. The Sparks people are going help me keep on the straight and narrow, with encouragement, and friendships that will help me get healthy and stay that way. God Bless everyone. Report
Oh have I ever! I lost weight to just gain it back, and even more. The stupid thing is I know why it happens but at the time I go on ignoring it. This time though is different I think I am having more of a mental workout with this weight loss and my brain is starting to understand. I believe this time I can keep it off and I will keep that in my head forever and not forget it because when we forget is when we start losing the battle.
Great Blog Nancy thanks for posting it! Report
It's amazing to me how many people have this problem. Yet when I go through a weightloss and regain I feel so alone. I feel like I'm the only one who struggles trying to just maintain a healthy weight. I've been yo yoing all my life and I can see how much it has effected my metabolism. This blog has been really inspiring and I'm going to try not to be so hard on myself during this process of weightloss. I'm going to focus on the long term goal of living a healthy lifestyle and not on the short term goal of weekly weigh ins. This journey is for me and me alone to feel better and improve my health! Report
Earlier on this year, I dropped 20 pounds back in February. I have now gained back 15 of those lbs much to my absolute disgust. I have lost the willpower I once had to shift that weight in the first place.

BUT, I press on and I will start again pick myself back up and continue to ruun this race to a healthier lifestyle at a great weight too.

Thanks to all who has commented it has been encouraging......one of the best blogs I read in a while. Thank you guys! Report
Whew! Powerful and oh so heartfelt Nancy! Well said! I also agree with Romantilly, I am starting on the healthy path again! I don't totally deprive myself of all white sugar but I will not let it be a meal instead of a sweet treat! Feeling healthy and fit is so wonderful and the past year has been very difficult so I put myself last. That hasn't fixed anything but it has made me realize that no matter how tough things get I can still go for a walk or lift some weights. The time is going by and it's up to me to make "good choices," ha, something I'm always saying to my kids! Time to walk the walk while I talk the talk! Be good to yourselves! Enjoy every moment!! Report
What a wonderful article. I too can totally relate. I have been on the SP journey for 2 years now and have lost 65 pounds. It should be more, but I constantly stop exercising and start eating more refined carbs and junk food. I was finally getting close to being out of "twosville" and into the 100's - a number I have not seen since 1993, but then I quit doing what was right and started eating crap again. I would eat junk and justify it by saying I was tired of depriving myself, and everyone else can eat junk; but really what I was doing was depriving myself of being healthy and happy. Then I would berate myself at night for not doing what I knew was the right thing to do. So I re-committed again today to start back on my journey. Report
Falling off the wagon is hard enough...I am finding getting back on that wagon is even harder. I am determined to ride this out though. Report
Thank You, you are not alone Report
This is such a powerful blog, it brought tears to my eyes. I have lost weight twice on weight watchers, i never got down to my goal weight but once i lost the target weight i would get comfortable and gain it all right back. This time HAS to be different. The shame and the humiliation was something I definetely dealt with and I would tell everyone yeah I gained all my weight back i am so fat. I like many of us knew exactly what i was doing wrong and just kept right on doing it. It truly is disgusting, so glad I found spark people. Here's to success! Report
This was a good article for me-I'd lost some weight last week -had some major
upsets-quit weighing& exercising-ate doughnuts...this puts it back into perspec-
tive.Just how easy it is to let your hard work slip away... Report
At the young age of 22 I have always been one of the bigger individuals out of the people around me (family, friends etc.) and about two years ago I was able to lose around 45 pounds only to gain it back (plus some). The worst part of it was I knew what I was doing. I could see the weight being put back on but it was like I was stuck in a rut and thought I had no other option but to gain. Now that I am back in the mindset of losing weight/becoming healthy and am more determind then ever I honestly feel I can break the curse and keep whatever weight I lose, off. To those that have gone through this-don't lose hope because you CAN do it. For those that have never experienced it, I pray you never go through it. I wish the best of luck to everyone out there. Report
I am not a yo-yo dieter. I had my "aha" moment 25 months ago, took 11 months to lose 80 pounds and have maintained my loss for 14 months. But those demons are just below the surface. I purged my closet of all big clothes except one size larger. I'm hesitant to get my rings resized because I couldn't bear the shame of having them stretched if I regain. I keep waiting and expecting that "one" thing that will break me and send me spiraling back into obesity. I have to keep short term, mid term and long term goals in mind by posting pictures, telling others of my plans. I want to be thin and healthy for so long that no one will be able to remember that I was obese. Report
Yes, I know that pain and humiliation. I lost near 50 lbs in 2004/2005 and by Fall 2006 when I got pregnant I'd gained about 40 of them back BEFORE any real baby weight. And I'd been holding to that pre-pregnancy number since. It was embarrassing to see how I changed over the years in pictures and in confidence of self. But this is a journey... and on journeys we will have hills and mountains to climb. Weeks where our wills will be tested. I feel better about my journey now though. I am proving I can do it with a family. Before when I lost the weight, I was a single girl on a search for a healthier, more fabulous single life and the minute I was in a couple I lost control in all the happiness... but now AS one-part of my union I am focusin on myself and making sure to live my life of happiness but as a healthier me.. and so far so good. Greatest success on your maintenance... you can do it! We all can once we start looking at this as a lifestyle and not just a quest for low scale numbers. Report
This sounds just like me! Last summer at tthis time I was 17.5 pounds smaller than I currently am now. I know exactly what my problem is, I just need to control it! I'm a stress eater. Since last year at that time, I have gone through a divorce, got laid off from my full time job , had to put my house up for sale, move, and got laid off from my part time job. In addition to all that a new man that was in my life decided to leave me for someone else. All stress issues for me, so I turned to eating. However I have become active again, and have told myself that I am going to lose the weight again if it's the last thing I do. I'm determined!!! I know it will take time, but I figure in the end it will be worth the wait. Report
It's so easy to fall off the wagon and get complacent about weight loss once you have reached a goal of sorts. You deserve a treat... you can afford it... whatever. Great blog... thanks. Report
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