Thursday, May 8, 2008

Get Off the Yo-Yo-Go-Round

Those of us who have been fighting the Battle of the Bulge for a long time are familiar with the yo-yo effect. That’s where you lose some weight, then gain it back and probably a little more as well, lose some weight, regain it, and so on.

My own ride on the yo-yo-go-round began in college. Truly free to make my own food choices for the first time in my life, I chose poorly. I ate lots of fat, starch and sugar and my weight went up accordingly. I used diet pills for a couple of months and lost some of that weight. During a spring cleaning, my roommates found the diet pills and I was so embarrassed that I stopped taking them which was probably just as well since the FDA eventually banned them as unsafe. My weight continued to climb until I graduated and returned home. While I searched for my first professional job I got on the SlimFast diet and lost a lot of weight. I found a job and stopped using SlimFast because I’d reached my target weight. Unfortunately I didn’t stay there long as my weight began climbing once again. A coworker talked me into joining a gym with him and being workout partners and I began eating a low fat diet. I lost a lot of weight and was feeling pretty good about myself. Then I changed jobs and started eating lunch with coworkers who liked a lot of the fattening foods I like and weren’t that concerned about their weight. Up my weight went again. A friend introduced me to the Body For Life (BfL) program and my weight headed down again. Another job change was accompanied by another change in eating habits and up my weight went again. This brings us to the present.

As you might expect, repeatedly gaining and losing significant amounts of weight isn’t the healthiest thing to do. So how do you get off the yo-yo-go-round? I found the answer to that question in the Body for Life program. Now it is important to note that the primary goal of BfL is to sell EAS weight-loss and body-building supplements. That doesn’t change the fact that beneath all the marketing for diet shakes and creatine supplements and fitness magazines, there lies a solid core around which a good fitness plan can be built.

As BfL pointed out, I’m fat because I don’t have healthy habits. I’ve been on the yo-yo-go-round because I lose weight via methods that I can’t or won’t do for the rest of my life. I’m sorry but I don’t want to spend the next 50 years drinking a SlimFast shake for breakfast and lunch. When I reach my target weight or something happens to disrupt what I’ve been doing, I revert to my old unhealthy habits and the weight comes back. This even happened when I did the BfL program because I wasn’t really practicing the “for Life” part of the program.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off permanently, you don’t need diet pills. You don’t need fad diets. What you need is to break yourself of your unhealthy habits and replace them with healthy habits that you can maintain for the rest of your life. To this end I have three goals.

  • Eat a healthier and more nutritious diet. (Note: I’m using the word “diet” in the sense of what I eat on a regular basis, not in the sense of restricting the amount of food that I eat.)

  • Engage in aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week and preferably more often.

  • Engage in weight-lifting exercise at least 3 times a week.

If I can establish new habits based around these three goals and maintain them even when something happens to disrupt my established patterns then I will lose the weight I need to lose and keep it off for the rest of my life. That is the only way to get off of the yo-yo-go-round.

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