Friday, March 16, 2012

Confessions of a Yo-Yo Dieter. A guest post by Andrea Graf Nolte

Since the age of 11 years old I have been obsessed with losing weight. I have tried at least 50 different diets, having moderate success at the beginning then falling off the wagon and regaining all the weight and then some. I existed in a vicious cycle of starting one diet, recovering from one, and then planning the next. Counting calories, fat grams, carbs- and it’s always the same “I swear this is the last time!”

“How could you regain ALL that weight when you struggled so hard to lose it?” my friends and family would ask. I would shrug my shoulders, get depressed, and continue to overeat. What they didn’t realize (and neither did I) that I never really fixed my problem. I ignored the real reasons I was overweight. Over and over I continued to fix the symptoms and not the real problem. As long as I was losing pounds in the process I could keep a smile on my face but inevitably they would be back to haunt me.
Tackling our own demons about food, weight, and body issues is no small task. I finally understood that it isn’t only about eating the right foods for a period of time and then magically being cured.
So how did I finally cut the string off the yo-yo?
Be insightful
Addressing some of the reasons we put on weight is key to understanding how to overcome the cycle of gains and losses.  A few sessions with a counselor helped me to uncover some past hurts that were continuing to plague me.
Be realistic
Make sure the changes to your eating plan are something you can stick with for a lifetime. Crash or fad diets are nearly impossible to maintain. Think of your changes as a lifestyle change.
Be patient
Don’t set yourself up for failure expecting to drop the weight overnight. Slow and steady is the key to good health and success.
Be supported
Studies show that people who have help from friends, family, or outside support groups tend to be more successful. Talk with your significant other about what you need for support.
Be a detective
 Learn to distinguish when you're eating for emotional reasons or real hunger. When tempted to eat something that is not healthy take a moment to ask yourself why. I find the 15 minute rule works well for me- if a craving hits, I make myself busy for 15 minutes around the house so I have time to calm down a bit.
Be vigilant
It’s a slippery slope when it comes to regaining weight. Once you hit your goal, have a few pounds window that you can fluctuate with. If you go beyond that, it’s time to reel it back in. For Yo-Yo dieters, a few pounds can easily spiral into 60lbs.  Weigh yourself weekly and have a clear plan of action if you go beyond that number.
Be active
Besides consuming a healthy diet plan and being mindful about self-monitoring, you must exercise. This is the key strategy that keeps most adults from regaining their weight. That doesn't mean you have to train for a marathon: Half an hour of walking every day is all you need to burn calories, build muscle, temper cravings, and increase "feel good" endorphin levels.
Be flexible
Switch your eating plan often so you don’t get bored. Try new foods. Make friends with your kitchen again.
Be honest
Don't underestimate the power of tracking what you eat. This "bite it and write it" approach can be effective on your own or in conjunction with a weight loss support group.  Studies show that people that journal their food choices tend to be more successful in keeping the weight off long term.
Be optimistic
One of the most important tips for being a successful weight loser is not to let past failed attempts keep you from trying again. Every time you fail you get more insight about what to do differently next time. Don’t give up on yourself

About Andrea Graf Nolte:
"I am a personal trainer/wellness advisor. What makes me a bit unique in the fitness industry is that I am a survivor of the weight loss struggle. Up until 2007, I weighed in at 282lbs. I felt horrible both physically and emotionally. While sitting on the sofa watching a weight loss show, I became ashamed of myself for just sitting there. So each night I began a few minutes on a treadmill. The changes were slow at first but eventually took off like a wildfire.

Now, my life has completely evolved. Training clients, owning a FB page called Clean Eating Recipes, another FB page for fitness called I’ll Start Monday Personal Training, writing fitness columns for Mommy Magazine and Date In Real Life.

I believe that people can relate to me because I am real. I stumble and then I pick myself back up each day.
Success doesn't come from a number on the scale. It's believing in yourself each and every day."


Laura said...

Thanks for sharing, and way to go on your successful weight loss! I'm always amazed that dieting starts so young for girls... makes me a little nervous as I attempt to raise my daughter with a healthy eating mindset!

XLMIC said...

Healthy, thoughtful attitudes toward food and eating are such a challenge to instill in young girls...why is that? It sucks! I have two daughters and get nervous about this, too. Good for you for accomplishing so much and doing so well :)

jillconyers said...

After many years as a yo yo dieter I've managed to maintain for several years now. Now I'm hoping I can help my daughter skip the yo yo years :)