The Danger of Yo Yo Dieting

When I hear that 62% of Canadians have lost weight over the previous 5 years but failed to keep it off, I realize I've been lucky in my life. I've had to lose weight after both babies, but I've never experienced wild fluctuations in my weight. I credit this largely to my very active lifestyle, which keeps my muscles primed to suck up the carbohydrates I eat, and stabilizes my blood sugar. Of course, I also eat healthily. I follow some pretty reasonable dietary rules and strive to balance over the day, and the week, to keep my food quality and quantity fairly stable. What does that balance look like?

  • If I have a large breakfast or have breakfast on the go, I eat a lighter lunch.
  • If I have a treat one evening after dinner, I don't the following evening.
  • If I have had a few cups of coffee by late afternoon I'll opt for caffeine-free beverages in the evening (yes, I'm one of those people who can drink coffee or tea before bed and still pass out...).
  • If I have a lot of carbohydrates at breakfast and lunch, I'll stick with protein and veggies in the evening.
  • If I haven't had many servings of vegetables in a day I'll choose raw veggies (and maybe dip!) for a snack if I need one.
  • If I haven't had much water to drink I'll choose a tequila mixed with water over a margarita (this one is a joke...kind of).

OK, you get the idea...

Periodically, I keep a food journal to ensure I am aware of my current habits. I also encourage my clients to keep a food journal, if not continuously, then periodically for 1-2 weeks when they are feeling a little less in-control than usual and/or have experienced a small weight gain. We track, analyze together and clean up small transgressions to return to a balanced state. It's not that difficult, but it does take a bit more of a "big picture" perspective than simply, "That donut looks good. I'm going to eat it." Life changes, habits change and being aware and honest about your habits is the first step to changing what must be changed.

Of course, habits can be changed in lots of ways. They can change sneakily. You can also change them with diligence and with some self-training.

As this video illustrates, "dieting" and considering one's weight only when it becomes an issue is a recipe for failure:

 

Why does yoyo weight gain & loss become such a cycle for some people? Simply, traditional "diets" ruin the metabolism, starve the body of calories, protein and vitamins/minerals, and lead to a smaller but less lean size. That new "skinnyfat" body may look smaller in the mirror, but what it's lost in pounds has been partially composed of muscle. Less muscle = fewer calories required to get by on a daily basis. Here is an accurate example of how you could diet yourself into actually GAINING weight:

  • start out at 150 pounds; use a deprivation diet to 'starve' off 10 pounds
  • at 140 pounds, require fewer calories; feel as if you've reached your goal and begin eating "normally" again
  • what used to sustain you at 150 pounds now causes weight gain on your new, 140-pound but less muscular physique
  • end up at 155 pounds; use a deprivation diet to 'starve' off 10 pounds
  • at 145 pounds, require EVEN fewer calories because you've now crash dieted twice and have eaten away more muscle; feel as if you've reached your goal and begin eating "normally" again
  • what used to sustain you at 155 pounds now causes weight gain
  • end up at 160 pounds...
  • and so on!

Don't want to yoyo? Want to keep your toned, lean muscle and lose primarily fat when you lose weight? Learn exactly how to avoid the dreaded "skinnyfat" syndrome here!

While I haven't struggled with weight gain and loss and gain and loss and gain and loss like so many clients, friends, family members and coworkers have, I know that doesn't make me immune. Even if you've never struggled to lose a single pound, never had a baby, never moved beyond your high school dress size, you need to be mindful of your habits. Pounds creep on - at an average of 10 per decade, by the way - and before you know it you've got a big task ahead of you. When I lose weight, I never intend to put it back on. That means keeping myself accountable and practicing my techniques to stay balanced over days, weeks and years. One night of pizza and beer won't hurt you but it's a slippery slope to take out three times per week and giant muffins for breakfast, and it's not a slope I let myself, my clients or my loved ones go down easily.

 

Get started on the Healthy Weight Action Plan with me! Track your food, record your weight regularly and ensure you are moving toward your goals and staying honest with yourself. The HWAP is easy to use, customized to you and free!