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Bouncing Back: How Developing Resiliency Can Help with Weight Management

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Nearly 15 years ago, when I still lived in New York and was doing PR, I interviewed a high school social worker about a unique program she had implemented at her school called Resiliency Training. At first, the idea of training yourself to become more resilient seemed a bit odd to me--I had always thought that resiliency was something that people either had or didn't have. But after speaking with her, I learned that resiliency is actually a skill that can be learned.

I've been giving this idea a lot of thought recently, especially as I approach my one-year maintenance anniversary. In my past weight loss efforts, I've been wildly successful at losing, but never successful at maintaining until now. Although I have pinpointed a number of different reasons for my current success, I've only recently come to realize that I've developed a sort of resiliency that I previously hadn't had (or at least hadn't put into practice).

According to the Mayo Clinic, which has conducted a great deal of research on the subject, the idea of resiliency is connected to how well we can adapt to stress and adversity, as well as how quickly and successfully we're able to bounce back from life's difficulties. People who are resilient face life's problems head on and with seeming ease, while those who aren't often turn to unhealthy coping strategies and experience psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression. We all know that stress and loss and pain are often inevitable parts of life. How well we deal with those realities depends on our level of resilience.

The idea of resiliency has been further broken down into four separate categories: cognitive (attention, memory, judgment and problem-solving skills), physical (healthy habits, including diet, sleep and exercise), emotional (facing and accepting your problems) and spiritual (practicing forgiveness, acceptance, compassion, true meaning and purpose). Although physical resiliency seems to be the most connected to weight loss, I think that developing resiliency skills in each of these four different areas can be a huge help in fostering our development of the skills we need to live a healthy lifestyle.

So, how can we improve our resiliency and how can we apply the skills we develop to our weight loss/maintenance efforts? A large part of that comes down to learning from past mistakes. If you're like me and have lost and regained large amounts of weight multiple times, take a good look at your past experiences. What worked for you and what didn't? Can you pinpoint what went wrong and led to your regains? Was there a specific incident that directly led to your backslide? How could you approach that situation differently in the future if something like that happens again? If you're a binge eater, can you develop a step-by-step plan that you can put into action once your binges start to help minimize their duration and frequency so they don't turn into full-on backslides? What were you doing when you felt the happiest and most positive about your progress? Were you doing things that you think you could sustain forever? I can attribute a large part of my success in losing and keeping my weight off to doing precisely these things. Persistence, trial and error and understanding what works for me and what doesn't finally made all of the pieces of the process come together for me in a way that it never had before.

Another important, and sometimes overlooked, component of how developing resiliency can help us in our weight management efforts is the emotional one. I know from my past involvement in Weight Watchers, as well as from reading many of my fellow Sparkers' blogs and comments on the site's threads, that I'm not the only one who has used food as an unhealthy emotional coping mechanism. Learning to accept and deal with your emotions without turning to food is how we can build up our emotional resiliency in this area. This can be achieved by journaling, developing a plan to deal with your problems rather than ignoring them, goal setting, practicing relaxation techniques and, in some cases, seeking the advice of a trained therapist who can help guide you through this process.

Other than continuing to maintain my losses in 2013, I don't have a specific New Year's resolution. On a more general level, I'd like to continue to work on developing my resiliency skills to ensure that I'm well equipped to deal with life's inevitable challenges and that they don't steer me back down the road to unhealthy habits.

I wish all of my SparkFriends a very happy and resilient New Year!

Sources on Resiliency Training:



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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Really helpful info!!!
    1986 days ago
    Thanks for sharing. You really have it together. Good luck on achieving year two of maintenance. That is a great picture. You are really beautiful!
    1992 days ago
  • KANOE10
    That was an interesting blog. I had not thought about resilency as a trait to be developed. I can see how important it is to be resilient.

    How exciting that you are getting closer to your year of maintenance.
    1994 days ago
  • MILLIE5522
    Thank you for this. I know that I have become more resilient since being on SP. I have learned to let go and go with the flow more. Good and bad things have happened to me and some very difficult things have happened to me in the past few days but I am still on track and eating healthily and still smiling!
    You have been such a support to me; your ideas and advice are always great! emoticon
    1996 days ago
    Thank you for sharing and caring!
    1997 days ago
    We had a Resiliency Training workshop for teachers at my school some years ago. We all began at different places on the measurement scale with the goal being to improve. I may never have the steady rock attitude of my most resilient colleagues but I can be better than I was. Thanks for writing this.
    1997 days ago
    Excellent blog: "liked" it! Resiliency helps us accept we will fail, and that we can start over again.
    1997 days ago
    Thanks so much for posting this blog!! The timing was absolutely perfect for me, exactly what I needed to read for "New Years resolutions" time of year- reflecting on what went wrong in the past and how to learn from those mistakes! I am going to remember this! emoticon emoticon
    1997 days ago
    oh my goodness what a wonderful blog! Thank you so much for sharing!
    1997 days ago
    Tina this is a wonderful blog with such great information. I will go to those links and learn more about resiliency, something I'm needing to cultivate a lot of right now! I sadly am falling into the category of those with little resiliency as I've been coping with stress via binging. But, the fact that I'm still here and still willing to keep trying tells me that I can and will find other methods. Anyway, thank you for such an informative blog. And bravo because you are truly resilient!!!
    1997 days ago
    emoticon and a great blog....very true on many many points!
    emoticon Happy New year!
    1998 days ago
    It seems that many of the skills we used to consider inborn, can be learned and even mastered through our weight loss journeys. Resiliency is definitely one of them. And the real gift of all this process is that those skills are needed in so many aspects of our everyday lives as well as in weight maintenance.
    Thank you for this great blog!
    I wish you all the best for 2013!
    1998 days ago
    Thank you so much for sharing all your insights. You give me road maps.
    I know how to eat right, lose weight, get fit. I've been educated on how to lose since I was that chubby little girl living in a house with only thin people. Your blogs help me navigate the much trickier parts of weight loss.
    When I joined SP I lost 60 pounds, very quickly. Then I had some major life events and I haven't had sustained weight loss in a long time. Normally I would have gained it all back plus and extra 40. This time I only gained 15 or so back. That is success! Major success for me.
    I keep checking in, keep trying to get back on track, and that has allowed me to maintain the loss. Am I ready to finally move on? I hope so. Your tools will definitely give me a fighting chance. Thanks Tina!
    1998 days ago
  • GABY1948
    GREAT blog! Thank you!
    1998 days ago
    emoticon blog
    1998 days ago
  • DALID414
    Thanks for the great info.
    1998 days ago
    emoticon blog!!!
    ::::::.....so thankful to be a Resilient Gal! emoticon ...::::.....
    1998 days ago
  • MARTY728
    emoticon emoticon
    1998 days ago
  • -AMANDA79-
    Great blog! If it doesn't come natural to you, that doesn't mean you can't work to get better.
    1998 days ago
    I think resiliency is a huge thing. I mean - you need that just to keep going when things are going well, and to pick yourself back up after you screw up. Such an important part of this journey.
    1998 days ago
    Terrific blog. I found (and in my own way, I think I touched a little on it in my own blog today), that by not sweating the small stuff, I've been a lot more in control of my appetite and not emotionally eating as much, because I know what I have to lose if I let my eating get out of control.

    So I'm with you when it comes to working on becoming more resilient!
    1998 days ago
    Great blog...and, on an unrelated note, I LOVE the dress you're wearing in the photo! So cute!

    1998 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.