Does this sound familiar?
You've worked really hard and maintained a diet for months, maybe many, many months and finally, you've lost the weight (or that event you wanted to lose it for has arrived). You're happy and proud; people praise you, and you look good. It took a lot of effort, and now you're determined you'll never go back to being overweight again......Three months later, the weight has returned...plus a little more. But you've lost weight once, which means you know you can do it again, right? So you get back on your diet and start all over again, and so it continues. Each time you feel disillusioned, stupid, and out of control.
If this has happened to you, you're not alone, but thankfully it doesn't necessarily mean that your willpower is lacking.
If you'd like to know more, then read on .....
Let's start with the facts.
There's a physiological reason that your body responds to unrealistic dieting.
Restrictive diets can slow your metabolism and lead to hunger, making it harder and harder to keep losing weight. The responsible hormone is Leptin (we talked about that two weeks ago. If you missed it, I'll put a link at the bottom). Leptin's job is to tell us when we have enough stored energy (in the form of fat). Leptin levels decrease when we diet; when they drop sufficiently, we start experiencing hunger. When we constantly limit what we eat, our bodies slow our metabolism to hang onto those nutrients for as long as they can. This means our weight loss will stall, and we're at greater risk of gaining it back when we stop that diet.
Why is yo-you dieting bad for you?
When you diet and lose weight quickly, you're losing muscle along with fat. Then, when you're gaining weight, you will gain fat first, not muscle.
Repeatedly losing and gaining weight can contribute to anxiety and depression. Studies show that a history of yo-yo dieting could significantly increase depressive symptoms and body hate......and I can tell you, you don't want that.
How can you stop the cycle of weight loss and weight gain?
The first one you already know.....Make sure you eat healthy foods, especially lean protein and colourful vegetables. Which veg is good for weight loss? If you're eating very little veg in your diet, then any would be a great start!
Establish a sensible diet and exercise plan. Yo-yo dieting starts with unsustainable diets. Avoid any diets that rule out entire food groups. We're all human; sometimes, you need some chocolate, or a friend asks you out for a pizza; you don't want to ruin your life and stay in because of what you eat or don't eat.
Most importantly, you need the space to think about what you're eating. In general, it's a good rule of thumb to try and avoid high amounts of sugar, fat and salt, but don't make foods off-limits for yourself. That's one of the main pitfalls of yo-yo dieting. Instead, try to find your balance and make the best choices for you.
Exercise. One of the main ways to combat yo-yo dieting is to exercise. Being active will ensure you maintain a healthy weight during your long-term weight loss plan. Exercise will also help you avoid losing muscle mass over time. It doesn't have to be the gym; any activity you ENJOY is the answer to making it a habit you can stick to. Dancing, swimming, golf, aerobics, skipping, yoga, anything as long as you move your beautiful body.
Look after yourself. How are you sleeping? How are you feeling? Has your relationship with food changed? Checking in on yourself now and then will help you make sure you're healthy in every sense.
Ask for help. Yo-yo dieting can be linked to binge eating or other eating disorders. Even if you don't have an eating disorder, if meals and weight are stressful topics for you, you can still get help and work through your relationship with food. It might sound simple, but an accountability buddy can help you stay accountable and on track. If you need one, why not join my Stop Emotional Eating Facebook Group, it's free for everyone to join, and there are many others there who are on their journey to give you support.
In short, yo-yo dieting happens to a lot of people and comes from unrealistic and sometimes unhealthy diets that we can't possibly maintain. But the good news is that even if you're stuck in the vicious cycle of weight loss and weight gain, it doesn't mean you can't get out of it.
If you're interested in support, click here to join my Stop Emotional Eating Facebook Group, it's free, and the women there are very supportive. Alternatively, I have a new 1:1 programme 'Lighter' almost ready to be launched, a 12-week, 6-step process that will help women lose weight and look good forever. If you'd like to know the details, just click here and register for more information when it's ready.