The Dangers of Yo-Yo Dieting

06/02/2011 02:06 pm ET Updated Jul 18, 2011

Do you consistently and painfully struggle with weight fluctuations? We have seen many a celebrity look trim and strong in movies and then heavy and large in tabloids, going back and forth between weight loss and weight gain.

Now, let's be clear: To lose excess weight is good. However, to gain and lose weight over and over again is not.

This pattern has dangerous and damaging effects on your system that you need to know about.

The dangers of yo-yo pounds

In a study conducted by Dr. Cornelia M. Ulrich of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, more than 114 women over 50 were questioned about their dieting histories. She found that over three-quarters of the women questioned had lost more than 10 pounds by dieting at least twice, in the last 20 years.

Afterwards, blood tests were taken to analyze levels of white blood cells -- the ones that aim to protect your body from diseases such as cancer, the flu and colds. It turned out that the women who had lost and gained weight the most times -- dieting five times or more -- also had the lowest levels of white blood cells.

Other studies suggest that constant weight gain and subsequent weight loss may increase your risk for certain health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and gall bladder disease.

Additionally, the psychological factor of yo-yo dieting cannot be neglected. Some studies have found that women who experience large weight fluctuations also experience an increased measure of psychological distress, life dissatisfaction and reduced levels of self-efficacy. In my practice, these are complaints I hear frequently when a woman starts a weight loss program again.

The good news is that your metabolism is not at risk. Gaining and losing weight does not alter your metabolism. However, as you age, your metabolism slows down by two percent every decade after the age of 20. Although gaining and losing weight doesn't change your metabolism, it does become harder to lose weight as you age -- both because your metabolism slows down and because you most likely become less active.

My recommendation

Losing weight is difficult and gaining weight is easy. Both can become a mobius-strip experience of never-ending ups and downs.

It can happen because life gets in the way. Food can easily be used to ease stressful situations. Or, perhaps food might become a replacement for a lost relationship. All of these emotional triggers need to be addressed in order to make a weight loss program successful.

Follow these recommendations to succeed in maintaining your weight loss:

Get with a program

Consistency is the key to any weight loss success. If you know that you have taken steps backwards, admit it and then take action to move forward again.

Stay accountable to yourself. If you don't have a system, such as a coach to report to, I suggest that you sign up for a program or establish an accountability system with a friend who has your best interests at heart. Also it is helpful to agree to a consequence that you will accept if you drop out of your program.

Check in with your emotions

It is not excessive eating that is the start of your weight gain.

In my practice, I interview clients before they start my program to find out why they gained weight and why they want to start losing it now. Most clients experienced emotional trauma, stress or boredom that then set off unhealthy eating habits. All three of these triggers have to do with your emotional health and not with the amount of exercise you did -- or didn't -- do.

When you find yourself in a situation in which you gain weight, dig deeper and admit why you stopped your program, indulged in food or stopped being active. The first step towards emotional healing is to admit what went wrong. Then let it go and move forward with self-love, self- respect and practical solutions that will work for your life.

Breath of fresh air

The secret to weight loss exercise success? Become active. And the more you enjoy the activity, the better. Don't get hung up on which strategy burns more fat or which strategy helps you to lose more weight. Find an activity that you enjoy, can do for a long time and won't quit.

The goal is not to start to lose and gain back your weight lost but rather maintain your weight loss. Get outside to manage your blood pressure and your stress. Breathe fresh air. Take a walk with a friend.

Celebrate yourself and mother earth. Check in with your second Chakra -- the emotional connection in the area around your lower abdomen.

To gain, lose and gain 20 pounds is not a natural pattern.

We gain weight naturally through the aging process as our metabolism slows down. Yet, this can be simply counteracted by strength training. Strength training is a great strategy to maintain your lean muscle tissue and to prevent yourself from getting osteoporosis.

Ultimately, maintaining a healthy weight is all about sustainable lifestyle changes. Make adjustments in your life that help you to move forward in a consistent and healthy way. The sooner you manage to make these lifestyle changes, the sooner you will be at peace with yourself -- both emotionally and physically.

Stay focused,
Stefan

Europe's Premier Youngevity Coach
AFFA, ACE, Reebok University
Masters in Science in Holistic Nutrition

Stefan Aschan, M.S., author of the Alpine Weight Loss Secrets, which teaches you to how look and feel naturally 7, 10 and even 20 years younger, without drugs, supplements or surgeries. His approach is holistic, scientific and organic, based on centuries of experience from those living in Alpine Environments. He is a certified strength coach, personal trainer and naturopath. Learn more about how to loss weight naturally or about the 5 restoration workers by visiting www.AlpineWeightLossSecrets.com