Dr. Joanna: How to Avoid Yo Yo Dieting
Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows how hard it can be, but the even harder part of the weight control journey is keeping the weight off. The cycle of yo yo dieting is frustrating and pretty soul destroying. Each effort to lose weight feels terrific when you do, but when the kilos start to creep back on it can leave you feeling like a failure.
Don’t let yo yo dieting bring you down. You can stop the cycle and achieve weight control that brings a wealth of health and wellness benefits.
Here are 6 tips as to how to avoid yoyo dieting:
1. Forget going extreme
Research has clearly shown that the best diet long term is the one you can stick with. The one you can stick with is the one that is closest to what you are used to. If you try to adopt a diet that cuts out loads of foods you are familiar with or has been part of your diet growing up, you will have a very difficult time maintaining your diet.
Don’t fall for those crazy diets that claim to be detoxing when really they are just incredibly low kilojoule with little to eat and often involve expensive supplements without any scientific backing. Any diet that you only follow for a few days or weeks will make zippo difference to your weight long term.
2. Make small changes that you can maintain
Instead of making extreme changes to your current diet, make small changes, choosing only a few to tackle at one time. Add in new changes over time until gradually you find that these small changes add up to bigger changes to your overall diet.
You might concentrate on changing a habit such as snacking in front of the TV in the evening or ditching a soft drink habit. Perhaps you start by dropping the added sugar in your tea and coffee and choosing to drink more water. Or perhaps you make a conscious effort to make your evening meals half vegies. If there are many changes you could make, prioritise the ones you think you can manage most easily or that will make the biggest difference. Over time your confidence will build to tackle the more difficult ones.
3. Lose the dieting mentality
The concept of ‘going on a diet’ suggests that one day you will come off it. The word ‘diet’ has come to be associated with weight loss, when really your diet is just what you eat. Reframe your thinking to one where you always strive to eat well and in a deliciously healthy way. This far more positive outlook is an easier one to stick to as it acknowledges the fact that food has a bigger role in our lives than delivering nutrients. Food should be a pleasurable part of life!
Instead of yo yo dieting, I like to use the analogy of riding a horse. For good weight control you need to keep your hands on the reins so that you are in control, but enjoying a sensational ride along the way. Every now again, particularly after the horse has bolted (a holiday lying eating and drinking on a beach perhaps, or a period of stress at work where other things occupied your thoughts and time) you may need to pull in the reins and get back on track. The key factor is not to let go completely or you’ll have a big task to rope it all in.
4. Get moving
There has been much media attention given to the idea that exercise is rubbish for losing weight. That’s true in the short term if you make no changes to your diet, but it completely underestimates the true power of exercise. It does play a role in long term weight control, but more importantly it is essential for your physical and mental health. Exercise elevates your mood and makes it easier to eat well, sleep well and manage your stress. All factors that impact your weight.
The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is a US based register of people who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for at least a year (some for as long as 66 years!). While these successful weight losers have made various changes to their diet, they do share common characteristics. One of those is that 90% of them exercise on average an hour a day and the most common exercise they undertake is walking.
Sticking your head in the sand and wearing stretchy or baggy clothes that you can hide under does not help you to maintain your weight loss. It’s all too easy to ignore one or two kilos and they add up over time. When the weight gain is unavoidably noticeable it is a much larger problem to tackle.
One of the other characteristics of those on the NWCR is that three quarters of them weigh themselves at least once a week. In other words they monitor where they are at in a tangible way. Now not everyone likes to weigh themselves – and being obsessive about it can be harmful – but monitoring in some way is a good idea. It may be the fit of your favourite jeans or a tape measure around your waist. Something that allows you to recognise when your weight is creeping up that signals when it might be a good time to pull in the reins.
6. Be flexible
There is no one approach to weight control that will suit everyone. We do understand the key dietary and lifestyle principles – e.g. eat a plant-rich diet avoiding ultra-processed foods, get enough sleep and exercise, and manage your stress – but how you put it all together can be different. Your own cultural background, likes and dislikes, allergies and intolerances, activity levels, time of year, the weather and so on are all factors that will influence what foods you choose to eat.
One of the reasons I choose to partner with Dietlicious is that it gives you options and ways to fit into your very own routine.