Dec 5, 2023
I would love to know how many pounds I've gained and lost in my
life. In the old days it was all about "Go on a diet, lose weight,
live it up, then gain the weight back." Over and over and
over again. Every once in awhile I could muster up the
self control to lose the weight, but I always gained it
back. I had little self control, I loved food, and I was an
emotional eater. And because of that I gained the weight back every
I actually knew how to lose the weight, but I didn't know how to
keep it off. So today I'd like to look at why we gain our weight
back and how to stop the old merry-go-round. Let's begin by looking
at why we gain it back.
7 Reasons We Gain Our Weight
- We let go of boundaries once we lose our
weight. Think of it. Have you ever lost weight without
setting some sort of boundaries? Maybe you did intuitive eating and
ate only when you were hungry and stopped when you were full. Or
you joined Weight Watchers or you did intermittent fasting. But in
some way you set limits for yourself. Unfortunately, once we lose
the weight, all limits go out the window and that's the biggest
thing that makes us gain the weight back. There are two ways we do
this: 1) We do it consciously. We think, "Yay!! I get to live it up
again!!" Then immediately go to living it up and gain our weight
back. 2) We do it without realizing we're doing it. So for example,
I may have lost my weight by counting carbs faithfully with a set
limit each day of how much I could have. When I lose the weight, I
still try to watch how many carbs I eat, but I don't have a set
limit. Or I lose weight with Weight Watchers. I still focus on free
foods and eat as many as I want--but I no longer count points. So
what we have are some practices, but we don't have actual
- We switch to different boundaries and don't go through
the necessary work to learn how to follow our boundaries.
In the first reason, we let go of boundaries altogether, but with
this reason, we actually do have boundaries--we just haven't
learned how to follow them. Here's an example. Let's say you lost
your weight with a diet, but then you decide to switch to 3 meals
and one snack a day for your boundaries. Since those boundaries are
looser than what you're used to, there is a learning curve to
figuring out how to maintain your weight within those boundaries.
If we don't make the effort to learn how to make those boundaries
work, we'll gain our weight back.
- We have a new trial in our lives that makes us feel
like eating. Often we'll be going along smoothly and then
something happens that makes us want to eat. Some trial that
triggers all our emotional eating tendencies. Maybe there's a
pandemic. Or the world is looking a little scary. Or someone you
love is having a crisis. Or you're having a crisis. When those new
trials crop up, it makes us want to eat. And we may gain our weight
back at that time.
- We stick to our boundaries most of the year but go off
during holidays and vacations. This is a good one to think
about now because we're smack dab in the middle of the
holidays--halfway between Thanksgiving in the United States and
Christmas. When we go on vacation or it's a holiday, it's easy to
justify a few extra treats. We think, Oh I'll just eat this now and
get back on track when I get back to normal life. When we do that,
we usually only gain a few pounds a year, but after ten years,
those few pounds a year have become 30-40 pounds and we're back in
a situation where we need to do the whole thing over again.
- We reintroduce sugar and/or flour when that was part of
the reason we lost the weight to begin with. I've talked
to many people who lost their weight without renewing their minds.
They were able to do it because they took away their biggest source
of temptation: flour and sugar. Unfortunately, I've also talked to
a lot of people who then reintroduced sugar and flour at some point
and either gained all their weight back or at least a good share of
- We lose it with self control and/or obsession rather
than renewing. I've talked to many women who are either
all in or all out. When they work on losing weight, they have a
hard time doing it without obsessing about it. The temptation is to
think about being healthy, exercising, and eating right all the
time. This becomes so exhausting that eventually they can't handle
the stress anymore and go back to eating. Then there are people
like me who don't obsess and have no temptations in the
exercise-too-much department, but I still used to gain my weight
back because I never took the time to change the way I thought
- We start believing new lies and don't take the time to
renew. With this reason for weight gain, we do renew
while losing it. In fact we renew our minds so much that we change
the way we think about food and we no longer even want to
overindulge or binge. But then if we're not careful, we start
fudging our boundaries.
So what do we do? With so many reasons driving us to gain our
weight back, is there still hope that we can avoid all of that?
Yes, there is hope! The Bible tells us we can do all things through
Him who strengthens us. It also tells us that He who began a good
work in us will complete it. God can help us stay free from the
control of food. Let's look at seven strategies we can use to stay
free from the control of food.
7 Ways to Keep Our Weight Off
- Keep relying on God for help
with life. So many times I've had women tell me, "I'm so
thankful I learned how to truth journal. It has helped me go to God
for help with so many things." They started out renewing for food,
but then started renewing for life and that drew them closer to
God. With me it was the opposite. I started renewing first for the
hard things in life, and only later started renewing for food.
Here's the truth: God wants us to go to Him for help with life. And
the more we go to Him, the more we'll fall in love with Him and the
more we'll grow in our character and be like Him. And as a little
side benefit, if we keep going to God for help with life, we'll be
far less likely to gain our weight back because we won't be going
to the refrigerator.
- Renew often about each new trial that comes
up. Things will often be trucking along just fine, and
then some new difficulty comes up in life that causes us stress,
worry, or fear, and we find ourselves reaching for food again. When
we learn the valuable skill of truth journaling, we can start going
to God right away when a new trial comes into our
lives. We can truth journal and ask Him to show us the lies we are
believing about our current situation. By going to God about the
trial first, we will be far less likely to continue
to run to our old idol (food) to bring us comfort.
- Catch any weight gain early. It's far easier
to lose a couple pounds than 20 pounds. And it's far easier to lose
20 pounds than 100 pounds. Some women will put away the scale for
good, but when they find their clothes getting tight it's a wakeup
call to be more diligent about following their boundaries--and
renewing if necessary. For me, I weigh about once a week. If I find
my weight is up for several weeks in a row, I try to be careful
about eating less at meals.
- Continue to have firm lifelong boundaries. I
can't emphasize how important it is to have some sort of boundaries
with food if you're a person who loves food, is not opposed to
large quantities, and has a tendency to eat emotionally. Boundaries
keep our passions reigned in.
- Be VERY careful about reintroducing sugar if you lost
the weight without it. And by careful I mean either don't
do it, or do it carefully.
- Be careful during vacations and holidays.
Fudged boundaries (which might involve actual fudge!), lead to
- Check to see if you still believe any lies that make
you overeat and also look out for any new lies that crop
up (see below).
Lies We Often Believe after We Lose
- It's okay to break my boundaries because I'm free from
the control of food now. I may be free from the control of
food, but that doesn't mean I can't gain my weight back and I
will gain it back if I consistently eat too much!
- This little bit of sugar won't hurt. While
it's possible this little bit of sugar won't hurt, it's also
possible that this little bit of sugar will set in motion weeks or
months or years of overeating. I should think carefully if I really
want to do this and then make a plan for it if I decide to do it
and go back to renewing if necessary. The truth is that I am a
person who tends to overeat with sugar--I just love it too much--so
I'll probably have to be careful all of my life.
- I still have boundaries. I don't actually have
boundaries. I have intentions--more fruit and vegetables for
example--but I don't have primary boundaries that tell me how often
or how much I can eat. If I really want to keep this weight off, I
need to have boundaries and follow them. Boundaries keep me
Say Goodbye to Emotional
Eating I talk more about boundaries in my recent
book, Say Goodbye to Emotional Eating, and hope to do a video or
podcast about them sometime as well. Say Goodbye to Emotional
Eating also contains 100 exercise you can use to renew your mind to
break free and stay free from the control of food.
Taste for Truth: A 30 Day
Weight Loss Bible Study is a 30-day Bible study
focused on the lies that make you eat, body image, and the weight
loss process. I wrote this Bible study to go along with the
questions and Bible verses in I Deserve a Donut, and
it’s best if you have both books when you do this study. I
Deserve a Donut is also available as a free app for your
phone. The Android app isn't working on new phones at the moment
(November 2023), but I hope to have it up and running again
Listen to the Podcast
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