08/18/2014 11:56 am ET Updated Oct 18, 2014

Is Your Weight Coming Back?

The diet industry's before and after pictures are a sales technique, not reality, and often an individual's weight loss is not about aesthetics, it's about health.

I have a client who is on dialysis and the kidney transplant doctor would not talk with her until she lost a minimum of 50 pounds. She now has an appointment with the kidney transplant doctor, and she can now be placed on a transplant list. Her before and after picture could be a new kidney, or no more dialysis!

It's never about the before and after picture. It's about after the after.

Recently at a luncheon, a colleague said, "I've gained some weight and now have to lose it; how are you always the same weight?" I replied, "Being the same weight is a fallacy; it's an ongoing process." She thought for a few seconds and then looked at me with an immediate sense of understanding and said, "That makes sense. I need to reframe my thinking about my weight."

We have been fooled by weight loss commercialism. We watch advertisements and TV shows promoting dramatic results and products. They use before and after pictures to entice desperate Americans willing to try any quick fix to weight loss. These tactics make many feel inferior and do more harm than good.

In 1988, after Oprah Winfrey completed her liquid diet, she rolled 67 pounds of fat, in a wagon, onto her stage, the exact amount she confessed to losing. In a later interview, she admitted that after taping that show she began eating and gaining weight. I applaud Oprah for being a shining example to others. She proved there is no quick fix -- it takes a lifetime of practice, and you can be a vital member of society as you manage your body size.

How can you keep the weight you lose from coming back? I have a series of questions and some techniques I use with my clients. Try them for yourself:

  • Are you eating more food and calories than you think? Check those portion sizes.
  • Are you skipping meals, especially breakfast? Never skip breakfast and eat three to five times a day.
  • Are you eating too many snacks in front of the TV or before bed? Eat just a small snack after dinner and don't let the TV entice you into eating.
  • Are you drinking enough water? Monitor your water intake and make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day.

Warning signs to tell you your weight is creeping back:

Lack of commitment...

  • Are you thinking, "OK I'll try?" Try thinking, "OK, I'll do."
  • Make an eating plan to fit what's happening this week and this week only.

You begin to rationalize...

  • Find yourself rationalizing and making excuses for why you didn't exercise, why you had to snack on high-calorie items, or why you are afraid to step on the scale this week?
  • Find out what is at the root of these excuses. I bet you'll find it has nothing to do with food, and everything to do with your thought process.

Major Life Changes...

  • Realize when schedules and circumstances in our life change, so must our eating pattern.
  • Building a better plan means anticipating a schedule change and finding ways to stay with your plan.

Failure to find solutions...

  • Weight loss usually slows down or stops when you fail to take personal responsibility, and you begin blaming weight gain on others or culpable situations.
  • A week when there's a weight gain is an excellent opportunity for you to investigate and realize your part in the weight gain. Identify an important behavior you need to work on.
  • Understand and accept your body's cycles and patterns. This knowledge will not allow them to derail your weight-loss efforts again.

Take back your control. Don't be made to feel inferior by the commercialism of weight loss, the false promises, and the celebrities who are paid for their endorsements.

A healthy weight loss is not a race, because there is no finish line.