What’s with all this yo-yo dieting?

The other day, I went live on my Facebook page, talking about why I do what I do. And in the middle of the mess somewhere, there was a bit about yo-yo dieting. In my time with slimming clubs, as a member and a coach, I saw so many people join, succeed, leave, go back beyond square one, and join again to repeat the whole thing. Honestly, it was really demoralising.

If you’ve gone to a slimming club, let me get one thing straight. Those systems work. But like everything, they work if you follow them to the letter, and assuming you don’t mind ultra-processed foods and food additives. Don’t get me wrong, you can eat fresh food that you cook yourself and that will be fine. In fact, that’s absolutely the best way to follow their plans. How many people actually do? But they don’t make money out of you that way, which is why they push their ready meals and snacks. They don’t actually teach you about nutrition, about how food works in your body, about how to fuel yourself effectively and still enjoy your food. They teach you how to follow their plan, maybe make suggestions about how you can improve your results that very few people take any real notice of, and send you on your way. That’s pretty much it.

If you’ve gone for a quick fix approach like meal replacement shakes (for which, read “food substitutes” because there’s little to no actual recognisable food in any of them), you’re not going to be able to sustain that long term. It would be unhealthy for one thing and for another, research published a couple of years ago found that after a year, the thickeners in them stop making you feel full so they become ineffective.

Here’s the thing. If the system you’re following works for you, it’s because you work at it every day, not just when you’re working towards your goal. It’s all very well wanting to lose weight for a special occasion, but what about when that’s over with? What will you do then? And what happens to your plan when you stop going to your meetings, or when you’ve reached your goal? Does that mean you no longer need it? Of course not. It means that you need to maintain that discipline that you were so great at sticking to during that brief period when you had something to aim for. And people think that’s the hard bit, but it’s not. The hard bit comes when you’ve achieved your goal, because now you still have that same goal, but you need to be achieving it every day.

So have a think about this before you go back to your slimming club for the umpteenth time, or shell out for another round of non-food. It might just save you a fortune.

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