Some of you are probably wondering what the “yo-yo diet” is and why you should stop it for good. I’m
going to take a wild non-scientific guess here and say that 95% of us have, unfortunately, yo-yo dieted for a
significant amount of time. Most of us still struggle with yo-yo dieting. Yo-yo dieting is awful because it
destroys our results, progress, motivation, lifestyle and faith in ourselves. So what is yo-yo dieting?
And how can we kick it in the butt.
So you make your new years resolutions and on top of that ambitious list is: improving your body and
health. You start off the first week the right way, very motivated to making changes. You eat strictly
healthy, or at least what you believe is healthy. You start seeing more results and less you! You’re
shrinking! You get excited and you start feeling more confident. A couple of weeks in, you start fantasizing
about all the foods you have cut out of your life. Your social circle starts noticing you haven’t been eating
out with them as often. Your family makes it harder by constantly coming back from grocery trips with
foods of temptation. All of a sudden there is chocolate and cakes everywhere. One day it all comes crashing
down and you gorge on everything you once swore to eliminate. You keep it that way for a while because
lets face it, who boycotts pizza forever and then has it one day without thinking about it for the next week.
You start making excuses because of how stressful your job or school is. A month later you realize that
summer is right around the corner, so you start exercising and eating healthy again. This cycle repeats itself
over and over. If this sounds familiar to you, then you my friend have yo-yo dieted :).
Yo-yo dieting is exactly what it sounds like. Your diet constantly changes between extremes. It’s either up
or down, super strict or super loose. Problem with this is that you do see some results but you end up losing
them faster than you achieved them. I personally find yo-yo dieting very confusing and demotivating. But
there is a way for us to stop yo-yo dieting once and for all. I personally guarantee you that once you
manage to quit this cycle you will see tremendous results. Without further ado here are my steps for kicking
yo-yo dieting in the butt!
1) Stop calling it a diet!
Let us be honest. How many of us call it a “diet”? I constantly tell my clients that it should never be a diet;
it is a lifestyle. Once you start calling it a diet then it becomes temporary. I personally blame all the crazy
diets such as Atkins, no-carb diets, no-wheat diets etc for turning lifestyles into temporary diets. Develop a
lifestyle that works for you instead, one that you can stick to for your entire life. It’s not easy and that is
precisely why we have professionals such as Registered Dietitians; but everything becomes very simple
once you complete this step.
2) Build small independent systems not dependent ones
Now that you stopped calling it a diet, build your lifestyle. Building a healthy system, or lifestyle, is an art.
If you build a system that is dependent on each other then the entire system is at a risk of collapse once on
in one of those systems is breached. For example, Scooby only knows how to eat healthy when he
exercises, he also only exercises early mornings, and he also must get 8 hours of sleep to wake up before
work to exercise. Therefore, if Scooby has busy evenings and is unable to sleep 8 hours, he stops exercising
and in turn stops eating healthy. This is what “dependent systems means”, eating healthy is dependent on
exercising and exercising is dependent on timing of day. Instead, build independent systems so that you can
eat healthy even if you don’t exercise or vice versa. That way, if one system falls, the entire lifestyle does
not collapse. It’s best to have several lines of defense rather than one big line of defense.
3) Develop a moderation rule you can live with
Ever heard of the guy who never had junk or sweets? Neither have I. Anything too strict is bound to
collapse at some point. When it collapses, the harm is always significant because there is no moderation
when you hit rock bottom. Instead of following a no-chocolate diet for 3 weeks then caving and eating all
the chocolate you can see for the next 2-3 days, try having chocolate in moderation. Develop a moderation
rule that works for you. I prefer 90:10 (90% healthy eating and 10% whatever you crave) but you can go as
low as 80:20.
4) Don’t cut out foods, cut down on portions
Following up on moderation. One of my professors once said, “foods are not unhealthy, people are” and I
completely agree. There is a difference between having a piece of chocolate and a whole bar. Cut down on
your portions to fit your moderation rule. However, keep in mind that cutting down on portions but
increasing the frequency breaks your moderation rule.
5) Cheat on your body
Believe it or not, cheat meals (not days) are scientifically proven to boost your results if part of a healthy
lifestyle. Use it to your advantage; I not only advise my clients to have cheat meals, I force them to! Yes, I
force my clients to eat pizza, cakes and whatever they crave once a week. A good tip, without boring you
with the science, would be to exercise extra hard the day after a cheat meal.
6) Develop a preemptive strike
So you finally have a lifestyle but life throws obstacles at you because that’s what it does best. One day
work gets busy and you have to skip lunch, you know that when you skip lunch things get messy in the
evening and you end up eating the first thing you set your eyes on. It is an inevitable scenario and will
happen, you might as well accept it. Develop a preemptive strike for such a scenario by keeping bags of
nuts or protein shakes at work. If you are forced to skip lunch, just snack on some nuts and have a protein
shake. The protein and good fats will keep you full and stop you from craving junk food. The concept of a
preemptive strike is very efficient but requires some planning ahead.
7) Identify your guilty pleasures and strategically place them
I will make this one simple. Have your guilty pleasures (foods) on exercise days specifically in the morning
or after a workout. Having it in the morning gives your body time to burn it off, having it after a workout
enables the body to use some of that energy for recovery. Just make sure you ALWAYS pair it up with a
8) Build good habits, start by printing off this list
Building a lifestyle is all about building independent systems that work together to accomplish a common
goal but can also work independent of each other. Building such systems starts with developing good
habits. Print off this list to remind yourself of what you need to do to build a lifestyle that you will thank
yourself for in the future.