Why do so many people struggle with yo-yo dieting?

One of the most common things I notice is that many people treat weight loss as a “project,” something to focus on for a few weeks at a time. 

You wouldn’t take a bath once and think you were clean for the rest of your life! Similarly, a few weeks of healthy eating will not help you to maintain your weight for a lifetime. 

As soon as you consider trying to lose weight, you need to make sure that whatever method you choose is one that is likely to work long-term.

When I ask people how they can avoid yo-yo dieting, most of their responses revolve around resisting temptation and persevering with unpleasant diets or exercise. But your real focus should always be on how to make changes that are long-lasting in the first place.

Here are 5 tips to ensure your weight loss really lasts: 

1. Make it easy to stick with. 

Most people approach weight loss with an all-or-nothing mentality. They think that in order to lose weight, they have to completely overhaul their life. They replace their old diet with a new one that is completely different. Even if they haven’t exercised for years, they decide they will wake up at 6am every morning and go for a 3 mile run.

It's very difficult to stick to these drastic changes because they are so different to what you were previously doing. And any disturbance to your routine (getting busy at work, getting a cold, going on vacation, or even a poor night’s sleep) can derail your progress.

For changes to have the best chance of succeeding, you have to make them as gradual and pleasant as possible. Make small changes each week, and build it up slowly.

2. Have a life. 

“No pain, no gain” is a great motto for weight trainers, but not for dieters. So many people think of losing weight as a painful and depriving activity. They put off vacations, and avoid eating out during these times.  Long-term changes cannot be painful or depriving. You will not stick with them unless you can still “have a life.” 

This means you have to learn how to eat out, travel and enjoy life, while still losing and maintaining your weight.

3. Welcome the bad days. 

Most diets are strict regimes in which, if you do exactly are you're told, then you're "cheating" or "failing." 

But life really doesn’t work that way. Think of a child learning to walk. Falling over is part of the process. And when you’re trying to change a lifetime of eating and exercise habits, you need to expect to have a few setbacks along the way. Not just expect them, but welcome them. Because they are a key part of improving your eating habits.

What this means on a practical level is that you need to expect:
  • A day, a weekend or even a week, when things don’t go to plan. (Expect lots of them!)
  • A week or more, in which you're doing all the right things, but your weight still doesn’t budge ( a weight loss plateau).
This is really important! Your weight loss will more than likely not go smoothly, and the more you expect this and plan for it, the more likely you will succeed.

4. Abandon all deadlines and expectations of speedy weight loss.

Most people who lose weight have built-in expectations of how fast they should lose weight. 

Much of this is the result of brainwashing from fad diet promises  like “lose 30 pounds in 30 days.” 

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, then you need to shift your focus from the speed of weight loss, to the stickability of weight loss. The less you focus on deadlines, the more you can focus on making long-term changes.

Often this is one of the hardest things for people to accept. We all want results quickly. But once you can let go of deadlines, you take the pressure off. If you are in it for the long haul, then the only way things can go wrong is if you give up.

5. Always think long-term. 

Ultimately making weight loss last, and avoiding yo-yo dieting requires staying focused on the long-term. You must always be thinking, Would I still be willing to do this in two years? How about five years? Or ten years? 

When you put every new action through that filter, you can ensure that you lose weight in a way that makes it much easier to keep it off.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com


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