The Way of the Turtle - The Slow and Steady Path to Better Health

Why Do We Yo-Yo?

Almost everyone who struggles with weight has been there. We put out a lot of effort, lose weight, and then watch in dismay (or refuse to watch) as the numbers on the scale go back to where they were to begin with - or higher. Humorist Erma Bombeck once said that she'd lost so much weight that by all estimations she should be hanging from a keychain. Many of us can relate!

Usually, when weight regain is discussed, the implication is that it is the fault of the dieter, and we hear this so much that it's easy to believe it. Plus, it makes intuitive sense - I mean, who's doing the eating? Thus begins another cycle of demoralization and self-berating. However, think about this: the percentage of people who regain after weight loss is enormous - well above 90% - and the number who sustain a substantial weight loss (more than 35 lbs) for more than 5 years is vanishingly small (think about it: how many of these people do you know personally?). Why do all these people, with great intentions and all the motivation in the world, (most of whom succeed in many other areas of their lives) fail at this one endeavor?

Much has been written about the biology of obesity recently, and it's becoming more and more clear that most of the answer rests there. But there ARE life changes we can make that will help. This article will discuss the common traps that keep us heavier than we need to be, and provide some thoughts on how we might have a chance at preventing "The Yo-Yo Syndrome".

In my studies on this, I have grouped the reasons for weight regain into 6 main factors. I feel that a complete understanding of all of them is important before beginning on this journey. I have written a separate article on each one:

Biological Factors - There isn't much we can do about them, but it's vital to understand them, so that we can work with them, and don't unwittingly make things worse.

Misguided Expectations - The diet industry is at least partially responsible for most of the expectations we have regarding weight loss. Many of these will lead us astray.

The Wrong Diet - The days of the "One Size Fits All" diet are over. But how do we go about figuring out what is the best way for us to eat?

Exercise Factors - It is vital that we give up our sedentary ways. But too often we doom ourselves to failure before we start.

Insufficient Support - Time and time again it has been shown that getting support for a new way of life is vital to sustaining it.

Emotional/Motivational Factors - Sometimes we need to look at other issues to help us on our way. Depression is one example.

I believe that it is extremely important, before embarking on a weight loss program, to thoroughly understand the factors that contribute to regaining weight. I also think that everyone has a weight range that it is relatively easy to stay in - with reasonable attention to diet and exercise we can keep ourselves at the lower end of that range. It is when we attempt to go beyond that range that we must be extremely careful. Often when weight is regained, we end up heavier than when we started - it could be that repeated dieting drives the "natural weight range" higher for some people.

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The material on this page and Web site is for informational and educational purposes only, and should not substitute for medical advice. Anyone having questions about the application of information appearing here to a specific person or situation should obtain advice from a qualified health care professional.


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