As a dietitian working in the education and counseling setting, I often hear clients recounting similar stories. They describe their successful, though short-lived, attempts at weight loss as the weight ultimately creeps back on…and on…and on. They have been through this cycle over and over and are exasperated. “I can’t do it one more time,” they tell me. Now, before me they sit; ready and determined to keep the weight off for good and looking to me for the answers to the nagging question: “What can I do to avoid yo-yo dieting?”
If you or someone you know has a similar story, let me first applaud you for your efforts to lose weight and empathize with how frustrating it is to face setbacks. Hopefully, through this article, you can glean a few tokens of advice that will help you end the cycle of yo-yo dieting for good:
1) Remember why “diets” (as we traditionally view them) do not work. They are often too restrictive and require us to make too many changes at the same time. These modifications are not sustainable (or nourishing enough!) over time which causing us to revert to our old behaviors and gain the weight back. We end up back at square one with little to show except a slower metabolism and deflated self-confidence.
2) Remember to be realistic. Aim for a one-half to two pounds per week weight loss by eating less and moving more. Include all food groups, eat at regular intervals, and allow yourself the occasional treat.
3) Remember that the changes that help you lose weight are the ones that will help you keep it off for good. In other words, weight loss (and weight maintenance) requires a lifestyle change. Start by focusing on one or two small changes at a time. Over time, they will compound, become habit, and result in weight loss. Simply trimming one hundred calories per day from your diet will result in a ten pound per year weight loss. You likely won’t notice the missing calories but will certainly notice your smaller waistline!
4) Remember that you are the expert on yourself. You know your barriers, motivators, and lifestyle better than anyone else. What works for your neighbor, aunt, friend, or favorite celebrity may not work for you. You are unique! Take the time to explore changes that make the most sense to you.
5) Remember that you are not alone. There are innumerable resources to help you on your journey. Seek out credible information at sites like The Good Calorie™, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s “Choose My Plate”. And, don’t forget to visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at http://www.eatright.org/programs/rdfinder/ or ask your primary care provider for a referral to seek counsel from a Registered Dietitian!
By Riesa Rarick, MS, RD, LD