Tired of watching your weight go up and down (and up again)? 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’s how to ditch diets forever and get happy, healthy, and body confident.
1. Know that you can’t go back to “eating normally.”
Eating normal got you in trouble in the first place. You don’t need to diet your whole life, but you
can’t go back to your past relationship with food.
2. 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
6 am every morning and go for a 3-mile run.
It’s very difficult to stick to these drastic changes because they are so different from 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.
3. Consistent application is your trump card.
We all have a way of thinking we are more consistent with our diets than we truly are. You need to
track your eating with an app, spreadsheet, or pen and paper to keep you honest — and do it for
the rest of your life.
4. Have someone hold you accountable.
Find a person who can help keep you motivated on your off days by giving you some extra
encouragement or even meeting you at the gym.
5. Don’t diet for the short term.
You have to have the mindset that you’re going to change your life forever. As someone who had yo-yo
her whole life, I know how important it is to develop a new normal. There’s no expiration date
on this “diet.”
6. Weigh yourself every day.
While the scale is a terrible measure of short-term weight-loss progress, it is a nice and simple
long-term marker. Don’t pay much attention to the day-to-day variation, but track the number so
you can spot longer-term trends in weight changes. Catching yourself when you’ve only gained 5
pounds is a lot better than “suddenly” realizing you are 15 pounds heavier.
7. Welcome the “bad” days.
Most diets are strict regimes in which, if you do exactly are you’re told, then you’re “cheating” or
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.
9. 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 stackability 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.
10. 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.