Fighting fluctuating weight disease!

Some people have fluctuating body weight and it’s okay.

Their weight goes up and down based on the season of the year, or maybe in anticipation of life events. Whatever the reason, the weight fluctuations are a matter of, “I need to lose weight for (fill in the blank.) Once the event has come and gone, it’s perfectly okay if,more like when, the weight comes back.

Fluctuating weight disease is a disorder that won't allow its victim to reach and sustain a happy weight. Many who suffer with this disease report that every time they lose weight, they then gain more weight than they lost.

Fluctuating weight disease is a disorder that won’t allow its victim to reach and sustain a happy weight. Many who suffer with this disease report that every time they lose weight, they then gain more weight than they lost.

Others fight fluctuating weight disease. This disease is characterized by a need to keep weight down and an inability to do so. Weight fluctuates, seemingly despite the patient doing all that can be done to try to stabilize weight. It’s tough on the body, tough on the mind, and on your self-image. For some it negatively affects their whole life.

Marie Ludwick, who recently passed away at almost 92, was a remarkable woman who was ahead of her time. She made choices and took risks that women simply didn’t take in her day. Among her risks were she and her husband left their jobs and sold their home in New York, to move to Maine with their 3 young sons, to open a Weight Watchers franchise in Maine. She fought fluctuating weight disease for 20 years or more.

Marie Ludwick celebrates 10 years of Weight Watchers in Maine with the company's celebrated founder, Jean Nidetch

Marie Ludwick celebrates 10 years of Weight Watchers in Maine with the company’s celebrated founder, Jean Nidetch

She described her fight with fluctuating weight disease this way. “As a young woman nobody ever knew how big I’d the next time they saw me. It could be one of my fat stages or thin stages. I had three complete wardrobes in my closet. Normal, fat, and oh my God!”

She recalls the various ways she tried to get her weight down and keep it there. She says the things she tried gave her “the ooglies.” In addition to getting a prescription for diet pills in the 60s, known on the street as speed. It worked for weight loss but she knew that washing windows at 3am was a side effect that couldn’t be healthy so she flushed them.

She also bought every weight loss product she saw on the shelves of the drugstore or advertised in the back of a magazine. She battled fluctuating weight disease, but couldn’t get her weight to stabilize. She shares, “I lost 20, gained 25. I lost 25, gained 30.” After the birth of her third son she was 50 pounds overweight.

She was urged to join a fairly new commercial weight loss program called Weight Watchers. Her friend had already joined and was having great success on the program. With the encouragement of her friend (and her husband) she decided to give it a try.

“How bad can it be?” she reasoned, “My best friend is doing it and I trust her judgment.”

Marie discovered that the Weight Watchers food plan that was built on sound, nutrition science reinforced in an environment of group support worked. She says of her meetings, “Our Leader, Sheila, was great. We laughed, we cried and we lost weight!”

Eventually Marie lost 50 pounds and reached her goal. She was asked to become a leader. “I would have died if I wasn’t asked,” Marie recalls. She led 3 meetings a week, but she would break into “leader mode” every time somebody would say, “Marie! You look marvelous. You’ve lost weight! How did you do it?” She battled and finally found her weapon to win her disease!

Fighting fluctuating weight disease is a personal fight. Nobody can do it for you and not everybody will find success with the same approach. There are several things, however, that are an important part of the cure.


1. Committing to a lifestyle change

A lifestyle change isn’t as horrifying as it sounds. It’s not changing everything you do and giving up everything you love.  It’s making some (maybe a few or maybe a lot) small changes in areas that make a big difference.

2. A satisfying way to eat

This is another surprise for people who have been fighting fluctuating weight disease for years. The way to fight the disease and to win isn’t by giving up certain foods or food groups. It’s learning how to eat more good-tasting, good-for-you food, and limiting, but not eliminating, the indulgent treats. It’s learning how and when to eat and how and when to turn away from food when there are better ways to deal with emotion and stress.

3. Increased physical activity

It’s easier to put an end to fluctuating weight disease when you discover some activities that are so much fun you do them a lot because “you want to” and never because “you have to.” Physical activity seems to play a less important role in losing weight, but a major role in maintaining the lower weight.

The best news about fluctuating weight disease is you can fight it and beat it by following the suggestions above and choosing a reasonable weight goal!


Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.