I’m a Yo-Yo Dieter

Something I didn’t understand until I was maintaining a significant weight loss is that weight fluctuates, a lot, even for a “normal” person. I had this idea that once I lost weight and got to my goal weight I’d just BE at my goal weight.

Oh no no no.

What I’ve learned is that most people’s weight fluctuates, over any time period you want to measure. My weight fluctuates up and down by as much as 5 pounds throughout the course of a day, which is why weighing at the same time every day is ideal. My weight fluctuates up and down throughout the course of a week, depending on my exercise and eating patterns. And without a doubt my weight fluctuates throughout the year. It’s why I manage my weight at all. It seems obvious when I write it out, but weight fluctuations get such a bad rap from the diet and women’s magazine industry that they even have a pejorative term for it – Yo-Yo Dieting. Oh, that evil yo-yo dieting – it’s so bad for you, don’t be a Yo-Yo Dieter!! (except, of course, that science actually says it’s not bad. I know…details!)

When I first lost the weight I was down much further than I could reasonably maintain, so despite my efforts it came up again. Then I wasn’t happy with the higher number so I redoubled my efforts and got it back down again. Then it crept up again. This went on for years. This process is how I discovered what a reasonable Maintenance Weight should be for me. Don’t be afraid of this process, it’s normal. And now, I keep the yo-yo range a little smaller than it was in the beginning – you could say I’ve shortened the string on my yo-yo; I stay in a range of about 6 pounds either side of my Maintenance Weight. That’s the ultimate goal – a weight range, not a single number chiseled in stone.  Still – a 12 pound swing? Yo-Yo Dieting!

Whatever, diet industry, whatever. I’m maintaining.

If I’m not watching my weight I can’t bring it down when it goes up, which is the whole point of weight management: My weight ticks up, I implement some stronger measures with my diet and exercise and it comes back down. If I didn’t do that I wouldn’t be managing my weight! I’d just be watching helplessly as it went up and up, instead of taking corrective actions when needed. That is the entire point of the weight management cycle right there: A yo-yo. Up and down, up and down, all year long. That’s weight management. Weight goes up, I take action, weight comes down. I like to think of it as a balancing act. Large swings initially give way to small swings and then minor corrections once a reasonable range has been identified. It may not be in the “normal” BMI range, it might not be what society considers acceptable, but it’s reasonably maintainable, healthier than I was, and I can do the things I want to do with my body.

Keep on walking that tightrope.

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2 Responses to “I’m a Yo-Yo Dieter”

  1. lisalys Says:

    Wow. I had never thought about it like this! Thank you so much for starting this blog right when I totally needed it! :->

  2. Schweinichen Says:

    I’m still in the “exploring the new me” stage, finding out how calorie consumption in a given time period translates to weight gain/loss the following day. My gold standard is my “official” weight listed on my new driver’s license. I’m happy with it. When I go over that, I go back on a mini-diet for a few days and get more militant about my exercise. Underweight = room for a little indulgence.


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