Learning From Previous Weight-Loss Attempts

The ability to learn from previous weight-loss efforts can be key in setting a successful course for the future.

Looking at Behavior Change
Behavior change is a process, not a single event. With weight loss this becomes quite complex because so many behaviors are involved. Each attempt at weight loss, regardless of outcome, is an opportunity to identify what worked and what didn't work. Understanding the behaviors that encouraged weight loss can help to create a confidence that reinforces weight-loss success. 1

Learning From a Model
Smoking cessation is a behavior change that has been studied extensively. Researchers have looked at smokers who were interested in quitting and the factors that were associated with their motivation to do so. They found that smoking-cessation interventions were best suited for those smokers who had the following: a strong desire to stop smoking, multiple past attempts to quit, high self-efficacy and/or a hospital emergency visit that was related to smoking. 2

In smoking cessation, past attempts to quit are connected with a heightened readiness to change. In studying readiness to change in smokers, researchers have shown that those who are at a higher degree of contemplating change are more likely to be ready to quit. 3

Preparing for Weight Loss
Applying the findings from research on behavior change in smokers to weight loss reveals the importance of reviewing past behavior. Researchers identify the stages of change as useful in assessing readiness to lose weight. (Read more about Behavior Change and Weight Management.). Studies show that applying this model may be helpful in addressing the multitude of factors that affect weight-loss behavior. 4

In weight management, each step that allows for learning about personal behavior that impacts weight loss is valuable. A study of a group of women who were successful at maintaining weight loss showed that they had developed skills that reflect self-discovery and consciousness about personal behavior. 5 All in all, looking at previous weight-loss attempts can help chart the future for success.

view footnotes

The Weight Watchers Approach:

Weight Watchers provides useful information to assist with learning from previous weight-loss attempts. Many individuals have successfully lost weight and maintained the weight loss after following the Weight Watchers program more than one time.

This content is reviewed regularly. Last updated November 12, 2012.


Other Science Library Topics:

Are You Ready? Introduction to Behavior Change

Mind Skills for Lasting Weight Loss


1Kennett DJ, Ackerman M. Importance of learned resourcefulness to weight loss and early success during maintenance: preliminary evidence. Patient Educ Couns. 1995 May;25(2):197-203.

2Boudreaux ED, Baumann BM, Friedman K, Ziedonis DM. Smoking stage of change and interest in an emergency department-based intervention. Acad Emrg Med. 2005 Mar;12(3): 211-18.

3Joseph A, Lexau B, Willenbring M, Nugent S, Nelson D. Factors associated with readiness to stop smoking among patients in treatment for alcohol use disorder. Am J Addict. 2004 Jul-Sep;13(4):405-17.

4Kelly K. The behavior and psychology of weight management. JAAPA April 2004;17:29-32.

5Berry D. An emerging model of behavior change in women maintaining weight loss. Nurs Sci Q. 2004 Jul;17(3):242-52.