The Skinny On Yo-Yo Dieting – It’s Trifecta Gone Bad

by Melody Jean

Contemporary Seeker Yo Yo DietingThey’re everywhere – from People Magazine’s annual 50 Most Amazing Bodies edition, to weekly tabloid cover stories – pictures and articles about perfectly sculpted (famous) humans.

It’s images like these found on media platforms across the globe that directly influence the average person’s perception of themselves, and it’s not for the better.

Trifecta Gone Bad

I’m all for the awesome threesome – sound mind, body and spirit, which I’ve spoken to before. It’s trifecta, in that all should be healthy and in alignment so that we can function optimally. Yet, the celebrities in these cover stories and images, especially the females, have bodies produced by strict diets and over exercise.

This isn’t healthy, and it’s unrealistic. In turn it sets-up the average person for disappointment and sometimes life-long struggles in the “body” category of the awesome threesome. Further it throws our whole quest for sound mind, body and spirit out the window – it’s trifecta gone bad.

Take for example Jessica Simpson. In the recent past she was slammed by the media for being overweight. Just months later, however, she is again admired for her slimmed-down figure. So we wonder – just how does she lose weight, gain it, and lose it again so fast?

It’s a yo-yo diet of course!

What is a Yo-yo Diet?

Yo-yo dieting or yo-yo effect, also known as weight cycling, is defined by Wikipedia as the repeated loss and regain of body weight due to excessive hypocaloric dieting. In this process, the dieter is initially successful in the pursuit of weight loss, but is unsuccessful in maintaining the loss long-term and begins to gain the weight back. The dieter then seeks to lose the regained weight, and the cycle begins again.

Celebrities and Yo-yo Dieting

Celebrities often become victims of yo-yo dieting because of the extreme pressure to be ultra-skinny. They follow low calorie, low carbohydrate, low fat, and/or fad diets and couple it with intense cardio and weight bearing exercises to burn extra calories. Therefore, they lose weight fast. This is helpful for Hollywood movie roles, but not for the human body.

Weight loss programs like these are impossible to sustain long-term. They are too rigorous and restrictive, and extremely harmful for our over-all health.

Just ask Oprah Winfrey or Kirstie Alley

Oprah and Kirstie outwardly share their battle with this dieting syndrome. You can even speculate that less obvious stars, such as Tyra Banks, Brittney Spears, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Snooki and even Russell Crowe suffer from this.

One month skinny, and then three months later headlines read they’re obese, or vice versa – heavy-set to slender, and then they flip back again. Even though realistically speaking none of these stars were ever truly obese even in lieu of the extra pounds, the media alludes such.

Starvation, Metabolic and Hormone Dysfunction, Oh My!

–> Starvation & Metabolism

So how does it happen so quickly?

It’s from restricting calories (or certain food groups) and over- exercising to burn calories. The body actually goes into starvation mode and quickly loses weight. Yet, in so doing, the metabolism slows significantly. When the dieter does eat “normal” again, their metabolism is only capable of burning the amount of calories they were consuming in starvation mode. If they eat more than the restricted amount – bam – it’s like a helium balloon in how fast it blows up.

Unfortunately yo-yo dieters do so much damage to their metabolism and body’s ability to process food that they eventually start to gain weight eating virtually nothing. It’s a hard cycle to reverse.

–> Buh-bye Smoothe Hormones

As well, it alters hormone balance, which actually helps to regulate our body’s ability to burn calories. If we eat the right foods and fuel our body with proper nutrients, we can actually eat a substantial amount of food, and still lose weight. However, if we begin restricting, we will set ourselves up for the cyclic effect of yo-yo dieting.

The Skinny on How to Avoid the Yo-yo

The trick is to stay in shape, or lose weight the right way.

— > Fad Diets Begone

Stay away from the numerous fad diets out there. From the Atkins Diet, to the newest craze, The Paleo (or Caveman) Diet, which varies in its premise, yet mostly combines two popular fads (low refined carbs and gluten-free); these restrictive fad diets are everywhere and tempting. Again, the problem with fad diets is that they’re impossible to maintain long term and our bodies need nutrients from a variety of foods.

These diets purposely restrict one food group, which the body is accustomed to, and it tricks our system to drop the weight. Yet, in reality all it’s doing is setting our system-up to not function properly long-term, and in the interim, depriving it of needed nutrition.

— > Develop an Exercise Plan

We need to make sure to develop a healthy exercise plan that we can stick to. I actually spoke to this in Part II of my series “Get up and Exercise” A Plan You Can Sticketh With, which you may want to read as well. It further elaborates, and I offer what worked for me when I decided to bring exercise back into my life more than a decade ago.

— > Establish Realistic Weight-Loss Goals

Weight loss goals are very important yet we want to ensure that our goals are realistic. To determine how many calories per day we need consume to maintain or lose weight based on our activity level, we can use a free calorie calculator.

Once we determine our caloric needs we should be able to gauge how long it will take to lose weight at a healthy rate. Experts say on average 1-2 lbs a week in the beginning is a realistic, and attainable goal. As time progresses, we will lose at a slower rate. We need not be discouraged, and continue to persevere.

— > Enlist the Help of a Nutritionist or Consult Your Doctor

As always, it’s wise to speak to a professional, such as our doctor or a nutritionist before embarking on a weight-loss program. If they’re good at what they do, we’ll be able to lose weight the right way.

It’s worth noting too that many insurance companies cover the cost of a nutritionist. If it’s medically necessary to lose weight or eat a certain way for our overall health or to control diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol or any other medical condition, it will likely be covered.

The Final Skinny

So there you have it, the skinny on yo-yo dieting. As humans striving to achieve the awesome threesome – sound mind, body and spirit it’s in our best interest to steer clear of this phenomenon. So take care, good luck, and happy seeking.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alaysia Raine

Me and the yo yo go way back. Luckily I take much better care of my body now, it’s the only one I have.


Melody Jean

Alaysia, you’re not alone. Case in point, most of Hollywood 🙂 And much of the general population. Kudos to you for finding the strength to stop the yo-you. No easy feat, but as you’ve probably seen since you have, all else seems to right itself more readily too. Not perfectly, but readily. Now you probably agree that our bodies are almost like machines, they house our souls, so they need the right love and nutrients to run smoothly too. Thanks for sharing 🙂


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