Published on April 28, 2018
Have you ever known an habitual liar? They’re the people who lie so much to so many that they can’t keep their lies straight. They don’t remember what they told to whom. All the mental work involved in trying to keep their lies straight is exhausting!
Well, yo-yo dieting can have the same effect on a person.
Yo-yo dieting is exhausting.
Those who do it get to the point where they can hardly remember on any given day whether they’re on a diet or not and, if so, which one; whether they’re allowed to eat a certain food or not (is that allowed on this diet, or was that the other diet?); or which size pants they’re now able to wear (because that dictates which closet they go to to get dressed).
Losing and regaining weight over and over can do more long-term damage than people realize. Here are just some of the realities of yo-yo dieting.
When you’re constantly taking your body in different directions—from heavier to thinner and back again—and switching gears in how you get there, it takes an emotional toll on your mental wellness. It creates feelings of shame and self loathing, damages self esteem, and erodes your belief in your own abilities.
Yo-yo dieting isn’t a permanent solution. It’s usually restrictive and eliminates many healthy items that contribute vitamins and minerals that your body needs in order to thrive and look its best.
The psychological effects of yo-yo dieting can be severe, leading to depression and a lack of confidence because you’re never truly satisfied with how you feel.
When you yo-yo diet, and can’t sustain whatever weight you manage to lose, you’re a victim of the consequences: re-gaining the weight you lost . . . and then some. Being a victim and placing blame on a diet is much easier than taking responsibility for making the hard choices of sustainable lifestyle changes.
The kinds of diets that people who yo-yo diet try all spend too much time on numbers: They’re either microscopically counting calories or fixated on the numbers on the scale . . . and weighing themselves incessantly.
When you have such a restrictive “yo yo diet” menu without real habits in place, you feel deprived and just look forward to bingeing on the cheat foods again. Every time you go on another diet, you establish yet another short-term, formulaic eating pattern . . . and then you return to the only other pattern you know: the eating habits that made you overweight.
Calorie deprivation for more than 21 days causes a direct change in your basal metabolic rate to match the calorie intake that you consume. This has been coined “starvation” mode and this negative effect can remain for years after the calorie restriction occurred.
Since dieting is naturally a stressor to the body, it’s important to slowly make adjustments at a pace that your body can handle. When done properly, dieting allows for the body to adapt and catch up to the internal changes and patterns without being over-stressed, while still yielding results. But when there are too many changes or the adjustments to your eating routine are extreme, your body resists because it’s fearful that there’s a problem.
Cortisol rises. Adrenal glands become stimulated. Leptin increases. Hormones become imbalanced and hunger levels become unpredictable. To complicate matters, any form of intensive exercise will only further fatigue and damage the metabolic activity. The harder you push, the more the body will rebel.
Even if you’ve tried countless diets, as so many of my clients have done when I meet them, you can turn the negative effects of yo-you dieting around by making your food work for you.
You have to feed your body real food.
You have to respect your body and give it what it needs to work efficiently.
You have to shift your focus from the speed of weight loss, to the sustainability of weight loss. The less you focus on numbers and deadlines, the more you can focus on making long-term changes.