It’s a problem we’ve all seen over and over: Someone enthusiastically embarks on a weight loss program, gets into great shape, feels healthier and better than ever before… and within a few months or a few years, they’re right back where they started. They have gained back all the weight they lost, and feel depressed and hopeless at how all of their hard work has come undone.

Why does this happen? Generally, it’s because we view weight loss and healthy living as temporary pursuits. Once we reach our goals, we expect our bodies to stay healthy while we return to our old habits.

Obviously, logic is severely lacking in this scenario! But this is a common, problematic pattern in many people. In particular, those who use food to soothe themselves emotionally often find that old habits are hard to break. Once the extra weight is gone, we sometimes allow ourselves to return to harmful eating patterns.

Does this sound like you? If so, it might help to start viewing your weight loss or healthy living ambitions not as goals to reach, but as a new lifestyle. The challenge is to break your old habits completely, so that you can say “no” when tempted to return to them.

When temptation strikes, ask yourself these questions about that old habit:

  1. Why did this habit harm me in the past?
  2. What effect did this habit have upon my life?
  3. What’s the difference between my old habits and my new ones?
  4. What has been working for me? What did NOT work for me in the past?
  5. What do I need to do, in order to stay on track toward a healthy lifestyle?

Asking yourself these questions should help to clarify how you feel about your habits. Simply forcing a new lifestyle on yourself usually won’t work, and this is why most diets fail! What does work is seeking to understand, on a deeper level, why you do the things you do. Then you should seek to make changes that support your true desires, while replacing habits that did not serve you well.