The ups and downs of yo-yo dieting

The ups and downs of yo-yo dieting

by Lisa Smith Molinari
The Meat and Potatoes of Life

Mark my words: If Super Bowl Sunday doesn’t do it to me, Fat Tuesday certainly will. I’ll break my New Year’s resolutions to diet and exercise. Even if I start out the year with the best intentions, something always goes wrong along the way.

Every year, after I emerge bulging and gassy from the holidays, I resolve to lose 10 pounds once and for all. And every year, something – a special occasion, a football game, a heart-shaped box of chocolates – sabotages my plans.

Once I fall off my self-imposed wagon, all hell breaks loose. With all-or-nothing mentality, I decide to “complete the cheat,” with a self-destructive binge that usually last for days. If I’m lucky, I’ll hit rock bottom and become so disgusted with myself, I’ll ironically pull myself out of the abyss.

For example, later this month it’s likely that I’ll slip up, lose my motivation and find myself polishing off a can of Pringles or a sleeve of Thin Mints. If it happens during Lent, I might see this as a sign. Whether Catholic or not, chronic yo-yo dieters see Lent as a lifeline out of the binge behavior promoted by Fat Tuesday.

When this inevitability occurs, I’ll probably cross myself and make a Lenten vow to give up junk food until spring. Then, just when when I think my double chin is shrinking, something else will happen. The Shamrock Shake will come out. I won’t be able to resist eating pizza when my husband orders it. I’ll find a bag of forgotten holiday peanut M&Ms left in my secret snack hiding place.

Even if I manage to maintain control into the month of March, Easter will begin to creep up on me. How can I manage to stay on track when I’m surrounded by pastel miniatures of every candy I’ve ever loved? It’s entrapment, I tell ya!

Furthermore, I know I won’t be able to resist grabbing a heaping plateful of ham and scalloped potatoes for Easter dinner, which will most likely send me into another guilt-induced gorge-fest. “Completing the cheat” on Easter, I’ll have a slab of heavily-frosted coconut cake, then shamelessly pilfer candy from my own kids’ baskets. Again, self-disgust might ensue and my guilt-binge pattern will go on and on.

This yo-yo diet cycle continues throughout the year, bottoming out through the guacamole of Cinco de Mayo, the ice cream of Independence Day, the potato salad of Labor Day, the candy extravaganza of Halloween, the gravy-smothered Thanksgiving and the eggnog-spiked seasonal smorgasbord of the winter holidays.

Am I too weak to overcome my calendar? As long as peanut butter cups come in heart, egg, pumpkin and tree shapes, am I doomed to fail? Should I just resign myself to muffin tops and lunch lady arms for the rest of my life?

The rational side of me screams, NO! Fit people I’ve known in my life enjoy a big slice of wedding cake, or wings and dip on game day, and don’t give it another thought. But when many of us indulge, we plunge into a crevasse of guilt and shame that’s too hard to climb out of.

To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, we have to be sensible about it. We are human beings after all! We shouldn’t make any food off-limits because it will only set us up for splurge sessions later. We should allow ourselves to indulge on special occasions and avoid an all-or-nothing mentality. And if we do “cheat,” we must understand that it doesn’t give us a license to pig out or be a couch potato all week.

We must keep moving forward.

The key to preventing the calendar from sabotaging my weight and fitness goals is to banish guilt. I can’t hate myself for breaking my resolutions. (Note to self: Girl Scout Cookies are here. ... Have some and don’t stress about it!)

I must realize that I am only human. I’ll fall off the wagon every once in a while, and that’s OK because I’m in the driver’s seat. I’ll just climb right back on, stay on course and resolve to not look at my rear in the rear-view mirror.
Read more at the website and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email:

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