Controlling the Yo-Yo

Yo-Yo Control 2Some people seem to keep their body weight stable without trying. I don’t know how it happens (maybe it’s in their genes), but one thing I am pretty sure about – I have never been one of those people! A couple of years ago, when I was clearly having a lot of success with losing weight, I thought that once I got to my target weight, I would become one of those effortless people, and all of my problems would be over.

I now know that I was wrong! I frequently have to stay away from home, and when I do I usually put significant weight on. It was like that while I was losing weight, and it is still like that now, even though I have been maintaining for the best part of a year. If I had become one of those lucky-gene types, that would not happen. But, rather than lapsing into my usual habit of beating myself up, I have recently realised something very positive about my situation!

Our nutritionist Emma, that source of excellent advice, pointed out that weight fluctuations are common in most people. Even people who have never been overweight can see their weight go up and down by several pounds. So the penny dropped! It’s no good hoping to become a person who cannot put weight on (I already know for certain I’m not one of those lucky types), but I can and will become like one of those other people – people who put some weight on, but then know how to get back down again.

And I now see that all of those trips away from home have been an opportunity to practise gaining weight, then losing it again. And, after such a lot of practice, I’ve got quite good at doing it (even, sometimes, without getting stressed out about the weight gain).

My latest practice session was last weekend – we went away to Edinburgh for five days. I managed to do a fair bit of walking, but also managed to eat and drink enough so that when I got home I was – believe it or not – 4kg (9 pounds) heavier! Even after such a lot of practice, I was taken aback, but I switched into my ‘recovery diet’ and only two days later I have lost the best part of 3kg. Every time I have one of these up-then-down practice sessions, I know I am getting better at doing it, and when I do go away I can eat with much less guilt.

I do have a major ‘practice session’ on the horizon – a cruise in a few weeks. But I am less worried about that than I have ever been, and I know that after serious practice like that, I can tackle anything!

1 Comment

  • Sprog says:

    I do think this is interesting, Steve. In the past, the time I maintained a weight loss for a couple of years, I too noticed that if I had an event/holiday/occasion where I put on weight in short pace of time, it came off quickly if I tackled it immediately. And it is one of the reasons I shall be sticking to daily weighing: that way I know exactly what is happening. Information is my friend!

    As an avid follower of your blog, I remember you saying because you are frequently away and it is not always easy to be in charge of your choices your maintaining is a matter of some days eating almost as you used to and then your recovery diet – and calling it your version of 5:2. I wonder if that is what makes it possible for you to stick with it so well: your next days off are just around the corner ? I sort of moved to a “weekday diet/weekend off” (but not silly) pattern when I was maintaining before – I guess another version of 5:2. However you also said one of the things you learned from the research, was the way the long term losers, on the whole, don’t do that, but eat roughly the same amount every day … and that makes me wonder about my previous strategy.

    Cruises are notorious for putting on weight (I gather there are frequent cruisers who cycle between diet and cruise – and who have different size clothes for the end of the cruise!) … will you be doing your thing of making sure your weight is at the bottom of the cycle before you go? Or making one of your meals more like your traditional mega salad for damage limitation ? Or just going all out for it ? I’m such a planner, I’m ever so curious (nosey?) about what others do!!

    My hero, Judith Beck, is also of the opinion that many of the “naturally thin” people are that way because of their ability to balance their eating over short periods – if they eat a lot one meal or day, they eat less in the period immediately afterwards – this is not for many so much “natural” as an automatic choice. She says if you asked a “naturally thin person” if all food had the same nutritional and calorie content whether they would eat exactly the diet they eat now and most say “no”: i.e. they are constantly vigilant too.

    So perhaps the difference between the so-called naturally thin and the yo-yo dieter is not the weight cycling but the time scale we do it over: cycling over hours and days keeps you at the weight you want, waiting months and years before balancing the calories doesn’t!

    Have a wonderful cruise.

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