UPDATED February 22th, 2018

If you are struggling to lose weight and know firsthand the agony of yo-yo dieting, you are not alone. Millions of women, whether they’re overweight, truly obese or just seeking to drop a few pounds, find themselves on a no-win cycle of restrictive dieting, without the rewards of permanent weight loss. Why is that? The short answer: Diets don’t work.

The word diet already evokes feelings of deprivation and restriction. Most weight loss diets address losing weight by drastically cutting back on calories and restricting the intake of key nutritional foods—like healthy fats—which can lead to nutritional imbalance.

Regardless of the diet you are on, if you stick to it, you will initially lose—fairly easily—up to 10 percent of your body weight. What happens next is called the yo-yo effect: most people will regain all the weight, and sometimes even a few additional pounds.

Researchers maintain that diets do not lead to balanced, sustained, weight loss. That’s because cutting back on calories changes your metabolism and the way your brain reacts and behaves in reference to eating. When deprived of the calories it needs to maintain its regular weight, the brain sends signals of starvation to your body, which in turn starts hoarding fat. In the meantime, food cravings and obsessions kick in.

New findings show that dieting by curtailing calories raises the levels of hormones that stimulate appetite, while lowering the hormones that suppress appetite. Your body is actually working against you when you diet! Researchers also say that restrictive dieting is a predictable indicator of future weight gain. It’s like you’re doomed to gain weight, even before you start your diet.

If diets don’t work, you might be asking yourself what to do to lose weight. The good news is that there is a solution. But it will require that you make a big commitment to permanently change your lifestyle.

Diets fail because they only address one issue: food. In order to attain healthy, permanent weight loss, you need to look at the whole picture, and address all these areas of basic health: exercise, hydration, sleep, stress management and nutrient intake.

The key to losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight in the long term is to address your diet, fitness and nutrition habits as a lifestyle, and make adjustments to all the areas you might have been neglecting.

Do you jog regularly, but ignore the stress that keeps you awake at night? Do you drink diet sodas to save on calories, without considering the health risks of artificial sweeteners and chemicals? For a healthy body and mind, you can’t focus on just one aspect (diet or fitness, for example), neglect others, and expect to obtain positive and lasting results.

Read Related: A Latina’s Journey To Bulimia And Back


  • Here are some basic guidelines to follow to begin your transition from disappointing yo-yo dieting to a lifetime of satisfying, long-term health improvements.
  • Don’t try to change your eating habits overnight, or go for short-term or drastic solutions.
  • Treat yourself in an organic way; be gentle and listen to your your body.
  • Shift your thinking and your relationship with your body image. Being and feeling fit is a state of mindfulness.
  • Focus on long-term solutions that will benefit your lifestyle and overall wellbeing.
  • Ask yourself: Is eating my hobby or pastime? Am I “feeding” addictions and old wounds? Am I eating to feel in control?
  • Check your mood. Are you anxious, mad, happy, or sad? Avoid using food to fill the void. Instead, go for a walk, practice yoga, write in your journal or take a pole-dancing class. In other words, look for a healthy replacement.
  • Don’t obsess over what you eat. As you make this conscious lifestyle shift, you’ll start to make better food choices.
  • Embark on a moderate exercise routine that you don’t dread doing regularly.
  • Keep it clean: Avoid simple/white carbohydrates and sugars; drink plenty of water; avoid processed foods and junk food. Say yes to healthy fats like almonds and avocados. A good rule of thumb to follow: the cleaner the source, the healthier the food will be.
  • Speed up your metabolism by adding small bites throughout the day. Eat a little, often. This will also help improve your energy levels, sugar cravings, sleep patterns and stave off mood swings.
  • Do it the French way: The French not only do not count calories, follow any diets, but overall they pay no attention to the fat content in their daily diets. They don’t focus on the caloric content but on a healthy, wholesome, balanced diet and lifestyle.
  • Don’t eat in a rush. You don’t need to take two-hour lunch breaks. Just don’t eat while on a conference call, driving to work or running to catch a cab.
  • Everybody is different so don’t compare someone else’s weight loss results with yours.
  • Don’t overload your plate. Serve yourself small amounts and take a short break before going for seconds. Stop eating as soon as you are no longer hungry.
  • Last by not least: chew that food! Researchers, foodies and Buddhists say we should chew each bite at least 30-40 times before swallowing. Digestion begins in the mouth, so the more you chew the less you will want to eat, and the faster you will feel satisfied.

Vow to enjoy the process of transforming your diet and lifestyle, and treat yourself with love and respect. Being of a healthy weight will follow.

Disclaimer: The information on this page is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child’s condition.