Yo Yo Dieting: How to Lose Weight Without Gaining It Back
"Losing weight is hard enough. But it can be even harder to keep it off.
We read about celebrities every day who struggle with yoyo dieting.They lose weight dramatically on one particular diet, only to have it rebound back to them over the next few weeks or months.
As a medical doctor, my first concern with yoyo dieting is that it is not a healthy lifestyle. But my clients also describe how embarrassing it is, to get all the compliments for losing weight only to gain it all back a few months later.
So how do you avoid the dreaded yoyo dieting?
Here is the most important thing you need to remember when trying to avoid yoyo dieting: Have a long term attitude.
One of the most important things that I instil into my weight loss clients is that they must take a long term approach to weight loss. It may not seem like ground shattering advice, but it is absolutely crucial to making sure you avoid yoyo dieting.
You have to start weight loss in the manner in which you hope to continue. This means that you should go about losing weight using ways that you will be able to maintain for the rest of your life.
Most people these days try and lose weight by:
1. Going on a diet, where they cut back on all the foods they enjoy. (Do you really think you can do that for the rest of your life?)
2. Trying diets that require hours of planning and preparation to make work. At the first sign of a crisis at work, an unwell child or even a vacation, the diet goes out the window because it was too difficult to maintain.
3. Going on diets that take no account of real life. So many of my clients have been on diets so restrictive that they found that they couldn't go out for dinner or on vacation because it would be too hard to stick to them. How long can you maintain that?
Of course, when diets are this restrictive, most people don't think about them as a life time activity. They think of them as short term, punishing, unpleasant ordeals that they have to endure before they can get to their ideal weight.
Most people struggle to stick to these diets for long periods of time, because they are so unpleasant. And even if you manage to lose some or all the weight you intended to, you are soon off them and back to your usual menu.
And so lots of people use diets as a way to get down to their desired weight before a big event like a wedding, or a vacation or an important party.
But of course, if you take this approach, then you will lose weight while on the diet, and then once you come off it, you will gain it back on. This is yoyo dieting.
And when people have been starving themselves on a deprivation diet, when they come off it, their body reacts by making them even more hungry (it's a natural body response to starvation) so they eat more than previously. This accounts for why people who yoyo diet become even more overweight after a diet, than before.
The solution to all of this is to change your entire approach to weight loss. Don't think of weight loss in terms of a short term diet that is unpleasant. Instead, make small changes to your existing diet so that over time you develop habits that support you being thin all the time.
Think of weight loss as a way of life. Think of it as a lifestyle.
Making small adjustments each week, so that over time you lose the weight gradually and keep it off. Is this possible? Of course it is. People who are naturally thin don't yoyo diet. They don't starve themselves for a few weeks and then gorge for the next.
If your habits are good, you don't need to starve yourself to lose weight. You can maintain the weight and still enjoy life.
The key here then, which is related to the long term attitude, is patience. The more patient you are, the more likely you will succeed.
I have seen many people who were impatient to lose weight, so they tried drastic means. After losing weight quickly and then gaining it back, when I met them 6 months later, they were more overweight than when they are started. Compare that to a similar person who took their time, making small changes, they lost the weight gradually, and after 6 months had made much more progress and was much more likely to be able to maintain it.
If you want to lose weight without yoyoing, then take a patient approach."