7 Best Ways to Stop Yo-Yo Dieting
The Horrors of Yo-Yo Dieting
Yo-Yo dieting or the yo-yo effect is when there's a repetitive gain and loss of weight over a short period of time.
As as lifelong sufferer of this cycle, it took forever to find the proper technique to finally beat this fat merry-go-round.
But I've finally done it after weight cycling five times, and I've kept the weight off for over four years. It won't be an easy task, but I feel it'll be easier for those individuals who have already shown the mental strength to lose weight.
However anyone is capable of preventing or stopping the cycle completely, and I've finally figured out the secret to shut down this greater evil and put an end to all yo-yo dieting if followed precisely.
Tip #1 Don't Stop Eating Foods You Love
Never ever stop eating the foods you crave and the foods you love. It's a huge dieting no-no that any qualified nutritionist or dietitian will tell you. They better tell you this because you're really going to struggle if they don't.
Eat the pizza, eat the donuts, have some cheesecake and apple pie—don't worry about it so much. Trust me the cravings will not go away the longer you try to escape those foods. Your body loved those foods and your brain will constantly remind you how much you loved them.
The secret to keeping weight off is surprisingly not that difficult and you don't have to kill yourself to do it, but you do have to be vigilant about portion control. In weight loss, it's not the quality that'll kill you—it's the quantity.
Tip #2 It's All About Portions
The difference between a typical weight loss regime versus a yo-yo diet is very similar. You follow the same caloric guidelines and use portion control to your advantage.
Portion control means cutting down how much of a particular food you eat.
The type of food you eat doesn't matter as often as how much of that food is on your plate. I recommend using smaller plates for your meals so your mind doesn't wander.
The fact is that when you have a huge plate with a ton of food on it—you're far more likely to finish the entire plate thus exceeding your caloric intake. If you have a smaller plate with subsequently less food on it, then you'll eat far less and maintain proper energy levels.
Use this tip with the food you eat, however be mindful of the food as well. Just because you can eat your favorite foods doesn't mean your portions of chocolate cake should be the same as a Caesar salad.
Tip #3 Make Exercise a Routine, Not a Chore
This is a very important tip you must follow to end yo-yo dieting. Think about your daily routine and how you follow it everyday. Your routine rarely changes, and it eventually becomes a part of life rather than a chore.
You have to do the same with exercise. Obviously exercise is necessary to lose and maintain weight, but you'll stop exercising and gain the weight back if working out feels like a chore.
I've always wandered why thin and fit people were constantly at the gym or jogging outside in the morning, but then I realized that it's what their routine consists of. They've incorporated running and exercise into their lifestyle and continue to do it no matter how fit they are.
And of course they'll stay fit—they workout nearly everyday!
But remember to keep track of how long and intense the workout is because long workouts (over an hour for most) will fall out of routine and into the chore category, which is what you never want to do to keep the weight off. I would keep the workouts between 20-45 minutes.
Find the best time of day and days to consistently be able to perform your workouts in order to blend them into your daily life.
Follow these points to build an exercise routine:
- Workout time (30-45 minutes is best)
- Consistency (Exercise on the same day and time of day)
- Intensity (Make sure you keep a steady pace daily with occasional shifts over time)
- Combine exercise with current routine (Blend working out into your current lifestyle)
If you stick to these points then you'll have no problem sustaining an active and healthy lifestyle.
Tip #4 Weekly Weight Check
Studies show that people who check their weight once a week or more have better long term weight loss success.
I would have to agree with those stats because checking my weight and holding myself accountable every week has allowed me to stop the constant weight gain/loss process.
Bottom line is that the first 5-10 lbs of weight gain are usually not seen by the individual. Your pants might feel a bit tighter, but you'll still feel fine. If you're already overweight or have a higher weight, then you may not notice a 20 lb+ weight gain.
But you will notice it if you step on the scale every week and see that weight rise steadily. For people who've recently lost a ton of weight—your mind still remembers the heavier individual and it wants to bring you back to them. There's a lot of weight checking and fighting that must go on in order to prevent rapid weight fluctuations.
Here are some additional tips regarding the body scale:
- Make sure you have a body scale at home
- Pick a same day & time to weigh yourself every week (for those that like to stretch that week—it better not exceed 7 days)
- Best time to weigh oneself is early in the morning after relieving yourself and before eating anything
- Weight will fluctuate up to 5 lbs over the course of a day
How often you should weigh yourself varies among professionals, but I think weekly is still ideal. The point is to not get discouraged if there's a slight weight gain but to also be vigilant if those slight gains build over time.
Tip #5 Calories Do Matter
I don't care if all you eat is fruits and vegetable or you decide to eat chocolate all day—the calories matter more than the food you put in your mouth.
There's no question that you should be eating healthy foods during this journey, but I guarantee if that's all you do, then you won't stop the yo-yo dieting process. The percentage of people that fail to keep weight off is staggering and it's because they quit the habits that got them to their goal weight.
That habit included counting how many calories they ate everyday because that did matter a lot. You could technically eat junk food all day as long as the overall calories do not exceed your required daily amount.
That doesn't mean you'll be healthy though, and I would try to squeeze in health foods that contain plenty of vitamins and nutrients.
But you need to find out how many calories to put it and how many to put out. If you want to lose more weight, then you put out more than you put in. If you want to maintain your weight, then there should be an even balance between what you eat and put out.
Below are some additional tips on calorie counting:
- Figure out how many calories you require through CalorieKing.
- What do you want to do? Lose, Maintain, or Gain.
- Keep a food journal or document detailing everything you take in (don't forget liquids)
- Don't forget to adjust calories accordingly based on current weight (General rule is more weight=more calories—less weight=less calories)
MyFitnessPal and LoseIt are two great apps to use when tracking diet, exercise, and weight loss.
Tip #6 Don't Obsess Over Your Weight
Obsessing about how you look and your weight isn't healthy and may even be signs of severe mental disorders like body dysmorphia.
You cannot worry about every little pound you gain because you'll get stressed out, and stress only leads to more eating and weight gain. I mentioned that daily fluctuations of up to 5 lbs are normal, so don't worry about it too much.
Also don't weight yourself everyday and especially multiple times a day because you'll only be damaging your self-esteem. Something like urinating or a bowel movement could cause 1-2 lbs of weight loss on the scale, so it wouldn't make sense to constantly check in on your scale.
You should take action if there's a steady incline after every weekly weigh in for up to a month or so. In that situation, you'll need to alter your eating and exercise habits in order for the weight to steadily return to its previous range.
Do not let a steady weight gain go unchecked for more than two months—otherwise you'll slowly fall into the yo-yo cycle.
Think about it!
Do you really want to let all that hard work and willpower go to waste by having to lose the weight all over again.
As a victim of the yo-yo effect, I can tell you that it's a living nightmare having to go through the cycle again and again. It's very harmful towards your body, and it causes the elasticity of your skin to subside causing a lot of loose skin to form after each subsequent weight loss.
Tip #7 Change Your Lifestyle
In order to truly battle the repetitive weight gain/loss cycle, you'll have to completely alter the way you think, eat, and live.
I'll summarize this in the follow points:
- Don't stop eating foods you love
- Use portion control for everything
- Make food and exercise a routine
- Hold yourself accountable for pounds gained
- Shift habits if weight gain resumes immediately
- Weigh yourself every week (refer to tip #4)
- Count your calories
If you haven't noticed already—the following is a general summary of all tips above. This is because they all represent a complete change in how you think and live. For this tip, you must combine the six above to completely end the cycling process.
If at any point you do not follow those tips or let yourself slip, then I guarantee you'll fail and regain most if not all the weight and then some. I've gone through this cycle five times, and I can assure you that you'll fall into this trap if steps get ignored.
However I also realize that every person is different, which is why this guide may not be best for those suffering with underlying physical and mental conditions.
But if you don't suffer with other ailments, then I highly recommend you follow these tips. I think out of all these tips—the most important one is holding yourself accountable because no one else is going to do it for you.
If you don't care, then your body won't care and you will gain the weight back because the statistics are not in your favor. End this disastrous sequence now and don't fall victim to the gruesome plague that lives to torture your body.