How to Overcome a Weight Loss Plateau

How rewarding is it when you set out to lose weight and it actually works?!

In the beginning, you set your mind to it and the weight started to come off.  At first the weight dropped off steadily, and then there probably was a little weight loss plateau, but then you felt better than you had in a while, and the success from dropping the first few pounds helped you keep at it.

Now, you’re really getting to your goal, when all of a sudden you feel stuck with those last few pounds. Sound familiar?

In the beginning, it was easy. You may have started by cutting out what you knew was keeping the weight on . . . the soda, the office muffins, the extra slice of pizza . . . and your body responded, which motivated you to keep going.

When you hit that little weight loss plateau you started pulling back on portions (even of the healthy stuff), drinking more water and switching the sandwich at lunch for a gorgeous salad. Go you!

You’ve been doing everything right. You feel great. You are almost there. You are almost there. You are almost there.

What the *$&%@*?!

Those last lingering pounds aren’t budging. Maybe they’re just there to mess with your head? What’s the deal?

 

How to Overcome a Weight Loss Plateau

 

Diet trumps exercise in weight loss. I struggle when I have a client a few pounds from his or her goal weight who is so fixated on the number on the scale that nothing else matters.

I always tell them not to give that number too much power. Easier said than done? I know.

To lose weight, the most important thing is to change your diet. However, especially when those final few pounds won’t budge, you also need to take a really close look at other pillars of your wellness. Let’s focus on exercise and stress here.

Exercise:

Sometimes you’re feeling fit, your clothing is fitting better than ever but the scale wants to show 148 pounds, instead of 145.

If those 3 pounds simply must come off, you may need to pull back on the spin classes, heavy strength training or swimming and head over to a low and slow treadmill workout or a yoga or barre class to meet your number goal.

Intense exercise, like spin and boot camps can build muscle, which is dense and adds to the higher number on the scale.

Let’s not forget though, that changing up your routine in this case is just to accomplish that number goal! You may actually feel better at 148, so maybe this is a good time to assess if 145 still is the goal.

Another thing to consider, is that we all have a set point, which is the weight our bodies tend to hover around naturally.

You don’t get to choose your set point (boy, wouldn’t that change the world!), but with hard work you can lower it. It will take time.

Not days. Not weeks. But months and months of consistent work.

Finally, instead of yelling profanities at the scale every morning, try measuring your waist, thighs, hips, arms and chest, or get a body fat analysis to see how you’re doing. Your scale has feelings too.

Stresssssss

Is there more to those three pounds than diet and exercise? Is it possible that you’re fighting your biology with mixed goals?

If you’re like too many people, you’re living a busy, stressful life. You’re also trying to live a healthy life. Those two things don’t always work together so well.

When you’re stressed, your body produces adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that make it harder to lose weight. Your heart may feel racier and you may find yourself craving junk, thanks to sabotaging hormonal effects.

Look honestly at your stress and how you’re managing it. It’s just as important as your diet and exercise.

What will help YOU manage your stress so you can kick those few pounds to the curb and also boost your health? Try one of these stress reducing methods daily: meditate for 10 minutes a day, take a long shower or bath nightly, or read a book instead of getting back on your computer before bed.

Of course there are more than a couple reasons (age, sleep deprivation, hydration, medications, yo yo dieting history…) why you’ve hit that weight loss plateau and those few extra pounds may be lingering, but exercise and stress are two biggies that are super important and often overlooked.

Good for you for getting sooooo very close to your goal. Tweak and refine what is already working for you by switching up your exercise and ditch the stress. And if it’s any consolation, we think you look great;)

 

Tried it all, but your weight still won’t budge?

Learn why your hard work isn’t paying off and how to re-channel your energy to lose the weight. Check out my e-book: Why Can’t I Drop the Weight?

 

 

Why You Should Stop Counting Calories

Q: If I eat 100 calories of jelly beans, isn’t that the same as eating 100 calories of another snack like turkey and avocado?

 

A: There’s a reason why people say “a calorie is a calorie”. In all fairness, a calorie is a calorie in its most simple form.

 

And for years, it was drilled into our heads that counting calories was the only way to lose weight.

 

Calories are a measure of the energy generated from food once inside the body, and they abide by a simple law of physics: energy in minus energy out equals weight loss or gain.  

 

This is true both in a test-tube and in tightly controlled weight loss experiments, where people are basically locked-up and fed exactly the same number of calories from different types of diets.

 

Time and again, subjects will lose roughly the same amount of weight, regardless of whether the calories come from low-fat, low-carbs or diets somewhere in between.

 

However, this is far from the complete story.

 

The human body is quite complex and there are many factors at play at all times.

 

Hormones, emotions, cravings and even our social schedule influence the amount of calories we consume and how our body processes them.

So, I’m going to explain why 100 calories of jelly beans is not the same as 100 calories of fresh turkey and a slice of avocado. Stay with me.

 

Why You Should Stop Counting Calories

 

If all calories were created equal, many of us would choose to live in a land of gummy bears and swedish fish. But food isn’t made up of calories alone.

 

Let’s go back to those jelly beans.

 

The only nutrient jelly beans provide is sugar. Sugar does nothing good for our bodies and actually does whole lot of harm!

 

During digestion, sugary treats stimulate the hormone insulin to be released. Insulin is good in the way that it helps cells uptake nutrients we eat, but it also inhibits the breakdown of fat and encourages the creation of it when we take in those excess calories.

 

Translation: if we don’t need those jelly bean calories they’ll be turned to fat- fast!

 

This spike in insulin and blood sugar also causes us to feel hungrier sooner, which likely means our hand goes right back into the candy bag and pops another 100 calories in our mouth before we’ve had time to even think about it.

 

And the last nail in the coffin (pun intended) for living on calories from sugar alone, is that we will actually die from it. Seriously… sugar alone would eventually kill us. We need nutrients, vitamins, and phytonutrients that real whole foods provide to fuel all bodily processes.

 

Now, a portion of turkey and avocado can also provide the body with 100 calories. But, these calories are loaded with protein, fiber, healthy fats, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and many other vitamins and minerals our bodies needs to perform at an optimum level of health.

 

These nutrients help with body processes from building muscle to improving energy to boosting the immune system to helping prevent cancer, heart disease and a whole host of other benefits.

 

Guess what else these calories do for us? They help to keep you satisfied and full – so we aren’t as likely to go back for seconds – and they keep fat storage hormones in check.

 

By helping to control blood sugar, our insulin release is more stable and we release less fat storage hormones.

 

So the important takeaway is to watch your total calorie intake, but most important is to eat whole, real unprocessed foods. And, don’t forget to read the ingredient list of any packaged foods you do eat to get the full nutritional picture.

 

Jelly beans can never replace the nutritional benefits provided by consuming whole, real foods – even if you eat the same amount of calories.

Alas, a calorie is not a calorie!

 

3 Reasons Why I Love Fat

Fat doesn’t make you fat. I promise!

Fat is your friend. Not your enemy.

But I still get questions alllll the time about this.

Is this too much avocado?

Is it ok to eat peanut butter?

Over consuming anything in general will make us fat. But when you control the amount of food you are consuming, fat by itself does not make you fat. Studies have even shown low fat diets can actually make you gain weight!

Why do I love fat so much? It tastes good! But keep in mind not all fats are created equal.
Saturated and trans fats are solid at room temperature (think lard and butter). However there is a big difference between saturated fat and trans fat.

Saturated fat has had a bad reputation for a lonnnnng time, but there IS room in your diet for saturated fat from real foods (like dairy, coconut, dark chocolate, and grass fed butter) and it can actually be good for us.

Trans fat on the other hand is just bad bad bad. People mostly get trans fat from packages processed foods – ditch ‘em!

On the other hand, monounsaturated fats (from avocado, nuts, and seeds) and polyunsaturated fats (from fatty fish, nuts, and seeds) have many benefits, like boosting immunity, improving brain function, being good for our heart health, and helping us lose weight!

Here’s what to focus on when it comes to fat:

Fat helps you absorb vitamins! Vitamins A, D, E and K get absorbed better when there is fat consumed with them. But this doesn’t mean you should pour on the ranch dressing to your beautiful healthy salad! Use 1 tablespoon of an oil and vinegar type dressing on your greens such as roasted broccoli rabe or mixed greens salad instead.

Fat helps you burn fat! Fat helps take fat out of your cells so you can use it for energy. Again, portion control is key, but be sure to get fat in consistently throughout the day (about 30% of your calories should come from fat). Instead of having a big apple for snack, have a small apple with 2 teaspoons of almond butter.

Fat provides satiety! That’s a fancy word meaning it helps keep you satisfied. See, carbs have a single bond – carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Fats have a double bond. What does this mean? It’s harder for your body to break it down so you digest it slower, and you end up staying more satisfied.

So there you have it. 3 reasons why I love fat and you should, too!

3 Reasons Why You Eat Yourself Into a Food Coma on Thanksgiving

Why is Thanksgiving a binge-fest that leads to a food coma?

Why do we not only allow, but plan to give in to our gluttonous selves on the last Thursday of November?

Why is Thanksgiving all about the pumpkin pie? The puffed fried appetizers? The black Friday food plans? The in-dul-gence?

Man, we’ve taken this holiday and made it all about stuffing our senses like we stuff that bird.

The thing is, why we eat so much on Thanksgiving may not have everything to do with the food.

It’s super possible that the food is just a symptom of something bigger.

Whaaaa? Yeah.

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to eat that Thanksgiving meal on a Tuesday in July? Most likely, you would eat that decadent meal in an empowered and healthy way without eater’s remorse and the three day post turkey day food coma.

So if it isn’t just the food, what is it about Thanksgiving that makes it so challenging for us to navigate this holiday easily?

3 Reasons Why You Eat Yourself Into a Food Coma on Thanksgiving

1. Stress comes with the holidays. Stress is a huge trigger to overeat.

Thanksgiving brings on the bad stressors of travel, broken routines, extra time in crowds, and the like.

It also brings on good stressors that you may not think of: spending time with your 2 year old niece or 85 year old grandmother, writing your holiday cards, watching your alma mater’s nail biter of an annual football game. . . these may be wonderful things, but they take extra energy and this can still be stress related even if it is “good” stress.

You want to keep your stress level to a minimum at all times, because with stress comes the hormone cortisol, which is destructive to both your waistline and your health.

PLAN for these stressors, both good and bad, so that you won’t feel overwhelmed and not know why. {Tweet this!}

Identifying the stressors of the day will help keep you in check. Have a mantra, something like “be in the moment” to remind you stay present and not get overwhelmed.

2. Your world is disrupted. Is it possible your Thanksgiving food coma is a result of you being out of your routine?

Thanksgiving is a day, followed by a day off, followed by a weekend that turns our regular day-to-day on it’s ear.

Schools and businesses are closed. Our world breaks routine.

The thing is, your body likes routine. It likes to sleep in it’s own bed, use your own toilet, and sleep and wake at the same time.

Routines are healthy and even good disruptions keep our systems from humming at their best.

As much as possible, stick to your daily routine of sleep, morning habits, coffee of choice and wellness work. The little bit of consistency will make it easier to recover from Thanksgiving and set you up for a healthy December.

3. Your nurtured self is on a shelf. Could the desire to overdo it on the sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows be related to your disconnection with your body?

Let’s face it, celebrating turkey-day is not always easy on the old self care routine. As a host, there is lots of planning, prepping, organizing and expectation to manage. As a guest there is lines at the airport, traffic or navigating which family you show up to first.

Taking time to squeeze in a bubble bath, read a few pages of your novel, or flip through your Instagram just may not happen. Any chance you could re-think that one?

We need our nurturing time to restore balance to our bodies. Taking care of ourselves, beyond the basic teeth brushing, hair washing and toenail clipping takes us from surviving to thriving.

When your wellness isn’t thriving, you’re more likely to get sucked into overeating into a food coma, skipping the exercise and having the extra glass of holiday cheer that starts a cycle of unhealthy behaviors.

Feed your soul like you’re feeding your tummy this Thanksgiving {Tweet this!} by planning to listen to your favorite tunes, call your bestie in Cali, or a similar self-nurturing few minutes of the day.

Feeling good leads to fueling right!

Enjoy yourself this turkey day, and do it in a way that you can feel great about. Think beyond the food to the underlying reasons you may overdo it.

Maybe one of the reasons above speaks to you. Squash your stress, maintain balance in your world and remember to nurture yourself. Happy Thanksgiving!

4 Reasons Why It’s Hard to Lose Weight in the Fall

You want to lose weight. Again. You’re trying to get to spin class 3 days a week and squeeze in a weekend yoga session. You’re in the salad line for lunch everyday and they know your order before you say it. You got the pumpkin latte last weekend but skipped the whipped cream.

 

I want you to think about this time last year, when the five pounds you worked so hard to lose and keep off all summer began to creep back on.

 

And here were are again. Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this cycle and struggle, and it’s indeed hard to lose weight in the fall.

 

But this year, let’s do things differently. Let’s turn up the action now and plan ahead so you don’t repeat your mistakes next year.

 

Here are 4 reasons why it’s hard to lose weight in the fall, and what you can do about it:

 

1. Marketers are really good at what they do. All summer long we’re bombarded with reminders to stay on track. The swimsuit ads, produce-pushing recipes and beach vacation reminders motivate us to toe the line. It’s easy to choose the unsweetened iced green tea or pick up the light and refreshing salad for lunch.

 

But then autumn comes along. The sweaters come out and rather than seeing Instagrams of your friends’ toes on a beach, you’re seeing snuggly socks in front of a fireplace. Fall advertisements push comfort foods and hot sweet drinks and pie. Lots of pie.

 

Don’t fall for the fall marketing! Stick to what you know works for you all-year-round, making simple substitutions here and there, but without too much deviation from the track.

 

Instead of the berries on your morning yogurt, toss in some diced apples. Go for 1 ounce of cheese on a high fiber cracker with a thin slice of pear instead of the harvest danish you might otherwise go for. You get the idea?! Don’t swap your morning oatmeal and walnuts for a pumpkin muffin, add pumpkin pie spices to your oats instead.

 

2. Holidays overstay their welcome. Doesn’t it seem like the candy jar is just emptied from Halloween and you’re already cooking your Thanksgiving bird? Do turkey leftovers feel like they linger into Christmas and you’re still eating Valentine chocolates daily when Easter rolls around?

 

Sometimes it feels like a big blur of holiday foods, sweets, treats and free for all from Halloween until Easter. It’s hard to lose weight in the fall (and winter) when you’re surrounded by holiday foods and festivities. PLAN FOR THIS.

 

Decide how you’re going to handle the holidays before each and every one creeps up on the calendar. At Halloween, allow yourself 5 pieces of candy (eat them all at once, or one a day, it’s up to you!). At Thanksgiving, make a no leftovers rule (except for that cranberry sauce). Whatever your plans are, tell them to a buddy, so they can help you stick to it!

 

3. Coats and sweaters do a great job at hiding things. Maybe you’re thinking that nobody can tell that you put on a few pounds, because you’re layered up and coated in outerwear. Maybe they can’t see it, but YOU can. It makes you feel lousy and less fit and it messes with your head.

 

Keep yourself in check here by actively not hiding. Maybe you have a pair of summer shorts or a dress or a swimsuit that you’d typically hide away in the fall. Keep one item that you feel great in, in some place where you can see it all year long.

 

Try it on from time to time. Maybe even wear it underneath your long johns to remind you that there is no hiding from yourself. Or just go ahead and sit in front of that fire in your bikini. Yes, you can wear socks, and no, we won’t laugh.

 

4. Nobody wants to put Baby or pie in the corner. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it stinks to deprive yourself. There isn’t a lot of immediate glory in not eating the caramel apple pie. Nobody is going to give you a prize for not having the pumpkin spiced latte with whipped cream.

 

Instead of having that yucky deprivation feeling, focus on what you CAN have and you’ll find great satisfaction. You can have a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on your ricotta with diced apples. Pumpkin (straight from a can, who needs to put in all that work?) can be a super healthful and delish seasonal ingredient in everything from soup to muffins to pancakes. Even cocoa can be healthful if you indulge consciously.

 

Keep lacing up those sneakers, every season of the year. Keep drinking the same green tea throughout the year, and just add ice cubes when necessary. Keep eating the oats for breakfast, and switch up whether they come out of the microwave or the fridge before hitting your mouth. Stick to what works, and learn to indulge consciously, rather than constantly.

 

Cheers to a great fall and congratulations on preventing those five pounds from finding their way onto your body this season.


 

Five Common Foods to Lose Weight

Eat foods to lose weight? Yep.

Aren’t you tired of NOT eating things you love so you can reach your weight loss goals? I am.

The more I think about not eating my favorite chocolate chip cookies, the warm baguette, the salted caramel ice cream or the cheesy lasagna — oh, I could go on and on and on — the more I think about how much I want them.

Instead, I find it helps (myself and my clients!) to focus attention on what I CAN do to look and feel good.

I can look forward to my bed at the end of the day.

I can enjoy drinking water with lemon, green tea and seltzer.

I can squeeze in a workout even on tough to schedule days.

Thinking about healthy activities and foods actually makes me want to go in that direction, too.

When I get a little momentum, and a little positivity from upping my wellness game, I crave the feel good that comes from it.

The good news is you can indeed eat foods to lose weight.

Here are five foods to lose weight that you CAN chow down on regularly:

Avocado

avocadoAvocado is a best way to lose weight.

The great fats help to pull fat out of your cells to use for energy.

Guac it up. Slice it in your omelet. Dice it in your salad.

Stick to ⅓ of a medium fruit. It’s all you need to rock & roll the benefits.


Dandelion

dandelion greensDandelion  is one of those famous detox healthy foods for good reason.

It pulls extra fluid from your bod and rids you of unwanted bloat.

I love it as a tea, but the greens are also delish in a salad.

While I’m at it, greens are also uh-mazing at helping you slim down. They’re full of satisfying fiber and loaded with vitamins which rev your metabolism.

There’s a green for everyone. From chard to kalettes and iceburg to arugula, eat ‘em all for maximum results.


 

Citrus

lemon-dressing-x

Citrus is tops on my weight loss tips list.

A squeeze of lemon in your water, a half a grapefruit with breakfast or clementines with your snack offer a great dose of vitamin C and antioxidants. My Stuffed Chicken Breast with Lemon-Artichoke Pesto recipe can also be delivered to your door from Chef’d for a citrus-inspired dinner.

Citrus helps you break down carbohydrates and sugar in your bod and lower insulin levels.

Add ‘em to your healthy eating list!


 

Beets

beet

Beets are a great addition to your healthy diet, thanks to betalin, a phytonutrient that lowers inflammation and benefits your ticker and detox efforts.

If you’re a beet newbie, start with a few bites at a time and increase from there as the fiber may take a bit of getting used to.

 


Dates

datesDates are a surefire go-to if you must have something sweet, healthy and supportive to your less of you look.

Yes, they’re high in sugar and calories.

No, you don’t get to stuff your cheeks like a chipmunk.

They’re also loaded with fiber (there’s almost 2 grams per date) and they’re great for digestion and your heart.

Plus, they’ll help curb your appetite for butter cream. Add them to your healthy snacks list.


 

Do Negative Calorie Foods Really Exist?

Wouldn’t it be nice to eat as much as you wanted of certain foods and lose weight just from eating them?! Ummmm, yes! Before I break down whether these miracle goodies actually exist, let me give you a little background.

 

What is the negative calorie foods theory?

 

The negative calorie food theory is based around the idea that the body uses energy to digest and process foods. The theory suggests that some foods cause the body to burn more calories than they actually contain.

 

What are some negative calorie foods?

 

Negative calorie foods are known to be foods such as celery, cabbage, garlic, vinegar and leafy greens which all have very few calories.

 

Does the body use energy to digest food?

 

Yes! A person uses about 10% of their daily caloric expenditure (how much we burn on a daily basis) on digesting food. It’s also often referred to as the thermal effect of food (TEF.)

 

It takes energy to chew, swallow and digest (think food moving around your stomach, creating acid to breakdown food etc.), but don’t pull out the champagne just yet.

 

This isn’t an extra 10% you get to all of a sudden add in to your metabolic life because you now know about it. Your body has been doing this, always. It’s not something we should now depend on.

 

Protein has the highest TEF, meaning it burns the most calories during digestion, then carbs and finally fat.

 

And, if you need another reason to eat whole foods instead of processed ones: research shows that the TEF after eating processed foods as compared to whole foods is about 50% less! There you have it, an apple beats a pop tart again.

 

Should I be eating negative calorie foods?

 

Did it sound too good to be true? That’s because it is. However great this theory may sound, there is NO scientific proof behind it as a way to diet.

 

With that said should you be incorporating whole, real foods such as these that have the reputation to be negative calorie foods? Why, yes, because they are packed with vitamins, minerals, water, fiber and/or protein, not because they may have negative calories.

 

Eat up the celery, lettuce, cider vinegar, lemon, garlic and radishes, because they’re good for you. They really do help you manage your weight and they’re loaded with nutrients.

How Does Michele Promaulayko Live a Nutritious Life?

Michele Promaulayko is the Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo Health, a new digital magazine offering the latest need-to-know news and expert advice on health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness topics.  Previously,  she was for six years the Vice President/Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Health.  I have known Michele for seven years. First, as a colleague.  Then as a colleague and close friend and now as one of my without fail, go-to’s for…well,  just about everything. From always being up to trying a new workout,  to indulging (consciously of course) at a new restaurant together to undeniably always giving the best life advice, this is one inspiring woman, who I can tell you truly lives a Nutritious Life and why I am so excited to feature her here.

If you want more Michele, and a perfect holiday or New Year read, buy her new book, 20 Pounds Younger: The Life-Transforming Plan for a Fitter, Sexier You (yours truly contributed the meal plan!) NOW!

How do you EAT EMPOWERED?
I try to eat as many whole foods as I can and as few processed foods as I can get away with. One reigning principle I live by is: “If it goes bad, it’s good. If it stays good, it’s bad.” Basically, I don’t really want to be consuming things that have a millennium-long shelf life!

How do you LIVE CONSCIOUSLY?
One of the ways I live consciously is by practicing mindfulness. The foundation of the eating plan in my new book 20 Pounds Younger is centered on mindful eating. And learning how to eat mindfully is critical to sustaining weight loss because it teaches you how to recognize real hunger cues so that you don’t fall prey to emotionally driven eating triggers.

How do you DRINK UP?
I make it a point to start the day with a glass of water and lemon to rehydrate after sleeping for 8 hours—Keri, you taught me to do that! Other than coffee or tea in the morning and the occasional glass of red wine, water is pretty much all I drink. But I love to doctor it up with fresh herbs, such as mint, or fresh ginger and lemon—or all three. I find I drink more when I add some nutrition-boosting flavor.

How do you LOVE MORE?
Recently, I made a vow to compliment the people I love more. Sometimes we think sweet or loving thoughts, but we don’t express them, and expressing them is such a simple display of love. Gotta do that more!

How do you STRESS LESS?
By carving out time to socialize—laughing is scientifically proven to be a stress buster. And I have some funny-as-hell- friends.

How do you SLEEP DEEP?
To me, sleep is sacred because I know how critical it is to health and happiness. In 20 Pounds Younger, I talk a lot about the impact of sleep on your weight, wellbeing, and—let’s be honest—your attractiveness. My bed is my happy place–I love my soft Pottery Barn organic linen sheets. I have also banished the TV from my bedroom so I’m not tempted to stay up too late watching Bravo. A new part of my ritual is turning on this aroma diffuser from Muji that a friend gave me as a gift. I put some water and lavender essential oils in there, and it emits a mellow, sleep-inducing scent.

How do you SWEAT OFTEN?
I much prefer lifting weights to traditional cardio. So in my book, I detail an awesome strength-training plan that has metabolic-boosting moves. You don’t have to run for hours on a treadmill to burn fat. Supplementally I’ll do yoga or do stand up paddle or just ride my bike. Trying to move a little every day is a big part of my life. It doesn’t always happen, but I feel the best when I’m more active. Every little bit adds up.

 You can buy Michele’s book, 20 Pounds Younger: The Life-Transforming Plan for a Fitter, Sexier You NOW on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and itunes.

What Yo Yo Dieting Does to your Body and Why the Holidays are a Trigger

You’re officially familiar with yo yo dieting if you’ve ever said something like this more than once:

“I want to be 130 pounds by Christmas.”

“I want to wear my size 4 dress to the holiday party in 3 weeks.”

“I don’t get rid of the size 32 belt because I know it will fit when I get back to working out this spring.”

All of these quotes come from actual clients of mine. They’re familiar or at least very relatable to so many of us who work hard to lose weight, only to find it creep back on (plus a few more pounds), to then again buckle down to lose again, gain again, lose again . . . sigh.

It is a really frustrating cycle, and there’s no more dreaded time for this miserable game than the holiday season.

Yes, we are there friends. Trying to figure out how to lose weight, again.

You have a favorite pair of cords that let you know exactly where you stand, and your adjustable waist pants are on standby when the cords finally exhaust their stretch. You have your favorite weight loss tips bookmarked on your computer, along with healthy dinner ideas and healthy snacks and healthy foods and healthy diet plans…

But between the lingering Halloween candy, the leftover Thanksgiving pie, and the endless Christmas cookies, you’re exhausted from the overload of constant hard choices you have to make – eat it, don’t eat it, eat just a little, skip it altogether, ok have a nibble, cut a whole piece, no wait a half piece, maybe if I eat it fast enough it won’t count, get it away from me because if I see it I’ll eat the whole thing, can I have just a taste, darn I can’t believe I ate that, ugh my pants are getting tight…

You know how losing and gaining weight messes with your head, but do you know how yo yo dieting really messes with your body?

 What Yo Yo Dieting Does to your Body

Hormonal havoc. Extreme dieting, including severe calorie restriction and dramatic dietary changes can increase the hormone cortisol, which wreaks havoc on your health. It increases your risk of developing certain diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

There is tons of evidence that people who live the longest, with the best mortality rates are those who are constantly eating slightly less than they need to be satisfied and maintaining a low body weight for their height.

This is, in part, due to hormonal actions being optimized.  If the caloric restriction is too severe, hormones don’t work as efficiently and health is compromised. You can see this as nutrient deficiencies that pop up with symptoms such as dry skin, brittle hair and nails and poorer immune functioning.

The bottom line is that seriously decreased caloric intake negatively affects hormones that you need for good health.

 

Metabolic meltdown. So the deal is this: if you over-restrict your calories, your body responds by slowing down your metabolic rate, or your ability to burn calories. It also causes muscle loss.

The truth of the matter is that yo yo dieting doesn’t appear to permanently ruin metabolism, but the process of losing muscle (which is what your body uses for fuel when there isn’t enough food calories coming in) is damaging to your wellness.

You need your lean body mass to support your bones, keep you fit, strong and burning calories, so don’t compromise it by breaking it down to use for fuel!

Don’t exercise to lose weight, either. Exercise to maintain your lean body mass (which helps with weight loss) and to keep your brain focused on your fitness.

Feeling fit is a great motivator to say no thank you to the second helping of Thanksgiving stuffing.

 

Danger zone. Extreme weight loss is hard on your vital organs, including your brain, heart, liver and kidneys. These organs need carbohydrates and calories to do their jobs. Without enough nutrition, these organs are at risk for damage.

Severely decreased calories can also lead to nutrient deficiencies, which in prolonged states may cause damage to bones, skin and immune functioning.

Do yourself a favor and don’t cut out all carbs or fats. Reduce ‘em, (the “bad” ones) yes. Eliminate a whole food group entirely and you’ll end up back on that whole yo yo dieting cycle again, guaranteed.

 

What to do? Rather than dramatically reduce calories, or drop all fats or carbohydrates, the research out there would have you eat a little less of everything at every meal and snack, so that you’re ‘satisfied’ rather than ‘full’ in order to get and keep a healthy weight.

Eat a balanced diet and choose clean, healthy foods. This is something I always stress (as in point out not the bad kind of stress!) by having my clients gauge their appetite using the hunger quotient (HQ).

Rather than binging on candy or mashed potatoes or latkes or fruitcake through Halloween or Thanksgiving or Hanukkah or Christmas, and then sticking to 600 calories a day for the next two weeks, choose to eat a little less all the time, and strategically place your indulgences.

This is easier said than done, but, it can be done. Be focused, consistent and patient. Listen to your body telling you it is “slightly satisfied” and “slightly hungry”. And, plan for your indulgences.

Another example is to have a cup of soup and a salad, instead of a bowl of soup, a salad and a roll. Then have a couple of Halloween mini tootsie rolls or a single Christmas cookie with a cup of tea as a treat.

Rather than going on a crash diet, reduce your intake at each meal or snack to successfully lose weight, but not so much that you’re starved.

 Yo Yos are toys for kids. They’re not how you should manage your weight. This holiday season, choose to focus on your healthiest goals and your weight will find it’s perfect place.