5 Ways to Stop the Yo-Yo Effect

Stop the pendulum swing of your weight and hit your goal for good.
5 Ways to Stop the Yo-Yo Effect

You go away on vacation. You start (or lose) a job. It's barbecue/holiday/insert-social-occasion-here season. Life happens — and when it does, sometimes it can interrupt your weight-loss efforts. You lose the pounds, then gain them right back, over and over again. The term yo-yo makes it seem like a game — when actually it is no fun at all.

Weight Watchers chief scientist Karen Miller-Kovach defines this yo-yo effect (also known as weight cycling) as "the repeated loss and regain of weight." But she adds this good news: "While much has been made of ill health effects of the phenomena, there is little science to back it up."

Indeed, the National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity from the National Institutes of Health convened an expert panel on the topic — and concluded that there is no convincing evidence that weight cycling in humans has adverse effects on body composition, energy expenditure, risk factors for cardiovascular disease or the effectiveness of future efforts at weight loss.

While an up-and-down weight might not harm your health, it sure can do a number on your confidence. There are ways to end the vicious cycle — and they're not complicated, though they do require some advance planning. These tips should get you in the mindset to get the weight off and keep it off, for good.

  1. Commit whole-heartedly. Don't let the risk of weight cycling stop you from attempting to lose weight if you need to.

  2. Learn from your own behavior. Plot and review progress charts to see what you were doing differently in the weeks when you started adding pounds back on.

  3. Create your own timeline. Write down from memory what your weight was each year for the past 10 or more. Try to see why it varied, from a big-picture perspective. Was it stress, a new job, a new baby? Or did you work out more (or less)?

  4. Monitor any gains. Don't be afraid of the scale. Weigh yourself regularly and take immediate action if and when the scale is five pounds above your goal weight.

  5. Forget the word "diet." Make sensible eating a way of life, rather than stopping and starting (or changing) your way of eating every couple of weeks or months.
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