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Regaining Weight -- and Wanting to Give Up continued...

But that's not to say a slip is harmless. "It often sets up a vicious cycle," she says. Typical thinking, she says, goes like this: "See, here I go again, I'm a failure, I can't do this." And that can lead to lapses and relapses and serious weight regain.

"It's not the slip that is the problem," Wing says. "It's the negative thinking you do afterward." So, the answer is to learn to stop the negative thinking. Such as? "I've shown before I can get back on track."

Wade Wingler, 37, of Danville, Ind., lost 100 pounds and has kept it off. "But last winter, I put on 15," he tells WebMD. At first, he couldn't figure out why, as he was following the same eating and exercise plan. "I jumped back into problem-solving mode," he says.

He checked in with his doctor, who found thyroid abnormalities, he says, and put him on medication. And he was soon on his way to shedding the 15 pounds again.

Losing Weight and Gaining Good Habits

As those who have lost weight and kept it off know, it takes time to develop healthier eating habits and exercise routines. Those who have done that say they can't offer more valuable advice other than "Just keep doing it."

For some, the fear of regaining actually keeps them following a healthy lifestyle. Wingler, for instance, says he has fear of regaining weight every day. "Every single day I worry about it, which is how I stay motivated."

Once the healthy eating and exercise becomes a habit, the paybacks begin to outweigh the alternative, says Anne Fletcher, RD, a Minnesota dietitian and author of the "Thin for Life" book series. "Even though it's hard," she says of maintaining a regular exercise and healthful eating routine, "the payback is better than the cost you have to pay [for not doing either]."

In her book research, Fletcher has interviewed numerous people successful at weight loss. "The driving question becomes 'How do you get yourself to do it?'" she says of the good habits. One woman told her: "You have to want to be thin more than you want to eat the wrong foods."

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