5 Signs You’re Currently on a Yo-Yo Diet

Ever wonder why you just can’t seem to keep the weight off after you’ve lost it? Do you swear that this time is different? Here are 5 signs you might be repeating the same old mistakes and have fallen victim to a yo-yo diet. (Spoiler Alert: Tough Love Ahead!)

1. You haven’t dealt with the reasons you gained weight in the first place.

We all over-eat for different reasons. Emotional eaters, stress eaters, food addicts, or just plain junk-food lovers. We all need to recognize what causes them to eat more than they should and deal with those problems head-on. In many cases, professional help will make a big difference. But, if you don’t tackle the underlying problem, the yo-yo diet cycle is going to ensure that all of your hard work is for not.

2. You’re eating someone else’s meal plans

I get it. Dieting is MUCH easier when someone says “Here, just eat what I put on this piece of paper and you’ll lose weight”. (And they’re probably right!). Except…

  1. you’ll be miserable while you’re on your diet. If you’re not eating food that you love, you’ll eventually just cave in with misery.
  2. what happens after you reach your goal weight? Are you planning to eat someone else’s meal plans forever? Really?
  3. You’ll never survive long “in the wild” if you can’t make smart food choices on your own. You need to know the underlying reasons why the meal plan is what it is, and how to make your own based on foods you love, that can sustain you for months, years, or decades.

Eating other people’s meal plans is fast, convenient, and takes all the responsibility out of your hands. But it’s time to take off the training wheels and learn to do this on your own.

3. You are “tracking” what you eat, rather than “planning” your meals.

Imagine if someone was deeply in debt and decided to start making some changes to get out and fix their spending. What’s the first advice you’d give them? “Hey… maybe you should put together a budget and carefully control your spending to live within that budget.”

What if their response was “Nah, I’d rather just wing it, and then see how I did at the end of the month”.

At a certain point, you’ll need to admit to yourself that knowing how your food-day is going to go before it even starts is a key to both short-term AND long-term success. And yes, if you’re the kind of person who’s not very good at portion control or making smart food choices when presented with temptations, you should be prepared to admit that you might have to do this for the rest of your life, or at least for a few years as you get a feel for normal, healthy eating.)

4. You hate exercising

Nobody likes exercising (even the people who say they love it). What they like is the feeling they experience after they’re done exercising, and the sense of physical and emotional freedom it gives them.

Studies show that, unless you exercise at least 250 minutes per week, there’s roughly a 95% chance that you will regain the weight you are currently losing. (Read that again. Now go read it one more time.)

It’s not the exercise itself that will keep the weight off, either. Studies show that exercise is critical to keeping your head and your emotions in a state where you WANT to continue to make smart decisions about your health, and your eating. People who exercise consistently make smarter choices, across the board. Stop exercising, and it’s game over. It’s that simple.

The secret is to find some form of exercise (both strength AND cardio) that you can stand to do. You don’t have to love it, you just have to be willing to force yourself to show up every day and be consistent. (Yes, even when you’re on vacation, traveling for work, or “just too busy”).

5. You’re excited for the day when you don’t have to be on a diet anymore.

Bad news. People who are fit and healthy basically eat the same way you do when you’re on a diet. They won’t admit it. Many will say silly things lime, “Oh I just eat whatever I want.” But after the age of about 30, it’s a level playing field. Studies have debunked the existence of the “eat whatever you want” people. They’ve discovered instead that, even though they don’t track of plan, their eating is consistent with other fit/healthy people who DO track and plan. They’re just better at it, naturally, than you and I.

If you’re looking forward to no longer having to track, plan, or make healthy choices, you should probably admit to yourself that you’re not ready for permanent change and you’ll probably be on a yo-yo diet for awhile.

My best advice? Stop lamenting and worrying about all the foods you can’t/shouldn’t be eating, and have given up. Really work on being excited about all the foods you can eat! Yes, it’s okay to love (healthy) food! No more yo-yo diet for you!