Former Fat Girl Lisa Delaney helps a yo-yo dieter get her weight loss motivation back.

Spry editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what its like to be an after. This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 poundsand six dress sizes--and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.

DEAR FORMER FAT GIRL: I have zero weight loss motivation right now, and Im hoping you can help. I lost 100 lbs. a few years back, but gained most of it back from medications I am taking. I feel like Ive lost my will. What can I do?Tracey

DEAR TRACEY: Tracey, I know youve got the motivation in you, because without it, you wouldnt have been able to drop 100 lbs.thats a huge accomplishment. But I know how distressful it is to have worked so hard, only to have all your efforts (or so it seems) undone by pills and potions.

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But let me offer a different perspective: All of the things you did to lose that weighteating less fat, more fruits and vegetables, less junk food and more whole food, and getting regular, heart-pumping and muscle-strengthening exerciseare still working to keep your body healthy, despite your weight.

The fact is, weight is a very poor judge of whether a person is healthy or not. I had this very conversation with my 11-year-old the other day, whose eating habits have slipped in the past 6 months. He had been on the heavy side for his height, but has now shot up and is looking trim and fit. But when balked at his desire for Cheez-its rather than fruit and yogurt for his afternoon snack, he said, Well, Im not overweight, right? I explained to him that eating well and exercising arent just important to how you look, but to how you feel and to whats going on inside your body. We as a culture are too ready to jump to conclusions about a persons health based on how they look, and not so much about what they do. Yes, being heavy is a risk factor for all kinds of diseases, but you can temper its effects by continuing to practice all those healthy habits you employed to get your weight down in the first place.

That said, I know how demoralizing it can be to not get the feedback we expectin the mirror and on the scalewhen were doing all the things that should lead to a healthier weight. Thats the problem with using our shape and our weight as the benchmark for whether what were doing is, in fact, worth the effort. But I also get that what you see in the mirror is important to your overall being, self-esteem and self-confidence. Ive got some advice on how to handle all this, and (hopefully) help you find the weight loss motivation to do right by your self and your health.

Talk to your doc. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but so many people leave their physicians out of the conversation when theyre dealing with side effects of medications, thinking they just have to suck it up. If you havent told your doctor how distressing your weight gain is, do it. Ask if there are any solutionsa lower dose, a different medication, lifestyle changes you could make that might help reduce your dependence on whatever meds you are on. There maybe nothing he/she can do in this regard, but this is an important first step.

Keep a food diary and exercise log. Boring advice, right? But its amazing how enlightening a food/exercise journal can be. Keeping an honest account (every BLTbite, lick, taste) of what were taking in and how active we are empowers us to make changes. It gives us a baseline from which to make changesadding more fruits and veggies, taking away starches, increasing our workout intensity, etc. It will also help you get out of your funk and start applying some energy to looking for solutions.

Try some plateau-busting strategies. Ive got a standard set of best practices for breaking through a plateau that may be helpful for youeverything from revving up your workout to shaking up your diet. Take a look at them here.

Brainstorm other benchmarks. I totally understand wanting to look great in a pair of jeans or a little black dress. But when youre not seeing results on the scale, find some other, more objective (and controllable) ways of measuring your progress. I actually recommend this for anyone who is on their weight loss journeyIm not a big fan of the whole goal weight idea. With each of these, keep records of where you are when you started, get specific about your goals, and chart your progress along the way. Some suggestionsboth mundane and lofty:

Specific health measures, such as cholesterol numbers, blood sugar numbers, etc.
Number of workouts/week
Number of servings of vegetables/fruits
Number of glasses of water
Specific athletic goalsamount of weight you can bench press, miles you can run or walk, etc., in a certain amount of time.
An athletic/active event youd like to participate ina multi-day bike ride, 5k, 10k or half-marathon, mountain climb (go for it!), etc.
Trying and mastering a new sport (tennis, skiing, rowing)

Dont go it alone. What I love about embracing athletic goals, training for events and trying new sports is that they are often your entre to a whole new community of people who share your goals and will support you along the way. Look for training groups, join a team, hire a personal trainer who can help support you along the waytheyll fill in the weight loss motivation blanks when you exhaust yours.

Treat yourself well. The past is the pastwhat you do today is whats important. Try not to mourn the lighter body you once had and embrace the challenge of staying healthy now. Every day is a new opportunity to make healthy choices, to choose not to beat ourselves up for poor decisions of the past or factors that we cant control. Resist the urge to beat yourself up, and do everything you can to lift yourself up. Post your favorite motivational sayings (here are some of mine to get you started), surround yourself with people who have your back, listen to uplifting music, read powerful stories of transformationgo to church (even if its not Sunday), if thats your thing. When youre in short supply of motivation, its OK to lean on other sources for inspiration and motivation.

Lisa Delaney is editor of Spry magazine and Ask her your question here.
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