How To Break The Yo-Yo Diet Cycle

It’s natural for your weight to fluctuate a little. Most people’s weight goes up and down in small amounts every so often, and this is nothing to worry about. But if you feel like you’re constantly dieting, and your successes tend to be short-lived, it’s time to take a look at your dieting behavior, you may be on a yo-yo diet cycle.

  • Hands up if you could open up a small clothing boutique with all the different sized clothes you have lurking in your closet or bundled up in boxes in your basement?
  • How about if  you’ve ever pulled out your “skinny” clothes and sighed as you reminisced when you could fit into them?
  • If watching the scale go up and down over the years seems to be your favorite pastime, then welcome to the Yo-Yo Diet Club. It’s a pretty big club filled with great intentions.  Unfortunately, it’s low on long-time commitment.

Crash dieting is not only an unhealthy way to lose weight, it is also unsustainable, and can actually cause your metabolism to slow down, making it harder and harder for you to lose weight and keep it off in the long term. You’re not alone, yo-yo diet is becoming more and more common. But if what you’ve been doing to lose weight isn’t working, then it’s time to try something else. Here are a few strategies to help you break out of the yo-yo diet cycle.

Identify Your Habits

It’s important to try to identify your dieting patterns so that you can learn to develop a healthier approach to weight loss. Think about when you have gained or lost weight in the past. Have gains or losses coincided with particular life events, either positive or negative? If you are triggered to eat more or less, or exercise more or less by emotional or circumstantial factors, it is important to note these down.

Recognizing your weight loss patterns means you can more readily identify potential methods and tools that will work for you in the long term. For example, if you notice that you tend to gain weight during stressful times at work, you might need to come up with better strategies for stress management to address the underlying issue. Or, if you find that you lose weight when you’re busy, you can start by trying to add more physical activity into your day to keep your mind and body active.

It can also be helpful to analyze your attitude towards food, exercise, and weight loss. If you think about weight loss as a ‘diet’ that you will follow for a while and then stop once you reach your ideal weight, you are more likely to yo-yo than someone who sees weight loss as making positive long-term changes to their lifestyle.

Focus on behavior, not the scale

When you’re trying to lose weight, you will be more likely to achieve long term results if you concentrate on modifying your eating and exercise patterns, rather than just the numbers on the scale. While it’s important to have specific goals and a target weight you are working towards, on a day-to-day level it is more effective to focus on making smarter food choices than to be constantly thinking, ‘I must lose 10 pounds.’ Working at a small-scale, practical level means you are more likely to make real improvements to your diet and will see results that are lasting. Making small healthy lifestyle changes that you can do consistently will be easier to stick to than strict, restrictive diets, and will make a bigger difference in the long term.

When you do weigh yourself, use it as motivation. Even a small weight loss is getting you one step closer to your goal- so congratulate yourself on the achievement rather than beating yourself up for not losing enough quickly enough. And remember that maintaining a weight loss is an achievement as well, even if you haven’t yet lost any more.

Say no to fad diets

It’s always tempting to follow the diets-of-the-moment, whether it’s the lemon detox diet, the soup diet, the cottage cheese diet, or any other ‘miracle’ weight loss secret celebrities are promoting. It seems like everyone you know has the answer to instant weight loss- but before you start filling your fridge with nothing but cabbage, stop and think. Realistically, the reason these diets ‘work’ is that you’re starving yourself. If you eat nothing but the one food for a few days or more, of course you will lose a lot of weight quickly. But this is not sustainable weight loss. As soon as you start eating properly again, the weight will come back.

Doing this repeatedly can cause your metabolism to slow down, making it harder and harder for you to slim down healthily. So instead of following these fad diets, aim for a healthy weight loss of no more than one to two pounds per week. Rather than depriving yourself, make sensible changes to your diet plan that you can stick to. For example, make a commitment to walk an extra 2,000 steps each day, or to shave 100 calories off your dinner. The weight loss might not be instant, but you will see results over time and they will be much more likely to last.

Here is how you can heal from the yo-yo diet cycle and how you can start to define YOUR success:

  • You can lose weight and change your body without ever stepping on a scale.
  • Not seeing immediate results doesn’t mean there are no results.
  • Food is intended to be eaten, not with held.
  • Your body does not need to fit into someone else’s mold. Your body will fit ONLY into it’s own mold.
  • It does not matter how many pounds you *think* you need to lose – what matters is how you make choices each day and WHY you make those choices.
  • The body gives signals that you have bigger issues than simply what you weigh – depression, fatigue, sleeplessness, severe PMS, irregular periods, inflammation, and acne are signs that your body is seeking balance. Ironically, chronic restrictive dieting and other stress can exacerbate these imbalances – while a fully balanced diet full of good nutrition can have a positive affect. So choose nutrition over restriction.
  • Accept that your body is always changing – and so will it’s needs. Some days you just need to eat more. That doesn’t mean you failed and will get fat.
  • Changing your diet and ultimately changing your body into a better version should feel good. Period.
  • Your healthy weight is found in building up your body, not trying to break it down.
  • You can eat a cookie and still like yourself after. You can even eat 10 cookies and still LOVE yourself after. The key: the more you allow a weakness to define you, the more it will control you.
  • You can’t wait for a better time to “get on track” – there is no such time. There is no magic.
  • Stop thinking about *how* or *what* you should do, and start thinking about WHY. Your why’s determine your choices and your choices determine your how and what. Not the other way around.
  • It’s possible to have less fat and be smaller and wear really great clothes and be in the best shape of your life – and not be your “ideal” weight.
  • Challenges are there to make you stronger! Keep fighting – try to see setbacks as your opportunity to become stronger. You can either quit or keep going. Keep going!!
  • You don’t have to be “hardcore” to get fit and slim. It isn’t a contest to see who can “get there” the fastest or who can endure the longest, toughest workout or eat the least amount of food.
  • Just because someone else “does more” or is more “hardcore”, doesn’t mean that A) they are actually healthy B) they are not suffering and sacrificing to have to do all that.
  • A little bit of progress is still progress! What you do now, however small or insignificant it may seem, still matters….you just can’t see it right now. But in time, you will see how you laid the foundation for your greater good and you will grateful for your persistence.

If you would like to break the yo-yo diet cycle, then please contact me to discuss my Lifestyle and Behavior Change Program. I help you discover balance in your fitness and nutrition so that you never have to diet again and you reach your body change goals naturally.


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