Mayo Clinic: My mother, age 64, has been on a weight-loss
roller coaster for years. She will stick to a strict diet for
many months, sometimes losing 50 pounds or more. Then, those
eating habits fade, she gains all the weight back and feels
terrible about it. Right now, sheís quite overweight again
and is thinking about starting another big diet. Would
moderate weight-loss she can sustain long term, even if it
doesnít get her to an ideal weight, be healthier than these
motherís pattern of weight loss and regain ó weight
cycling ó is very common. Because she hasnít had success
keeping weight off in the past, it would be a good idea for
her to use a different approach. Rather than following a
strict diet, adopting healthy, ongoing lifestyle changes would
be a more effective way for your mother to lose weight,
improve her health and maintain her weight loss long term.
typical approach to losing weight uses a dieterís mentality.
People follow a restrictive program that forces them to always
limit what they eat. This type of strict diet often makes
people feel deprived. When dietary habits are negative and
restrictive, theyíre likely to be temporary. Eventually,
people feel they canít keep it up any more, so they abandon
their efforts and often gain back any weight they lost.
to what many people think, this cycle of losing and gaining
weight does not increase a personís risk for health
problems. In addition, weight cycling does not make it more
difficult to lose weight again. That said, weight cycling can
be very frustrating and undermine a personís self-confidence
a more effective approach. First, one of the most important
steps to successful weight loss is planning. Before you make
any changes, set goals. Beyond sustained weight loss, do you
want to feel better? Do you want to decrease health risks? Do
you want to be able to be more active? If you decide on those
goals first, you may find that you realize them as you make
healthy lifestyle changes ó even if you donít reach a
specific number on the scale. Reaching those goals may be
motivating enough to help you maintain your changes.
set your goals, think about lifestyle changes that can help
you achieve them. You should be able to incorporate these
changes into your daily life, so they become long-term habits.
Try to make them specific, realistic and positive. For
example, you could say, "Iím going to start walking 15
minutes a day, three days a week," or "Iím going
to eat one more serving of fruits and one more serving of
vegetables each day." As you achieve those changes,
continue to build on them. It is possible to decrease
calories, follow a practical and tasty dietary pattern, and
feel good at the same time.
Clinic has a program based on these principles. The Mayo
Clinic Diet decreases calories, but instead of taking a
negative and restrictive approach, we encourage people to eat
healthy, tasty food. By changing the way people eat in a
positive manner ó for example, they can eat as many fresh or
frozen fruits and vegetables as they want ó the Mayo Clinic
Diet emphasizes a healthier, lower-calorie pattern of eating
that is practical, enjoyable and sustainable.
approach she takes, as your mother moves forward with her
weight loss, I would encourage her to think about how she can
make positive lifestyle changes in diet and physical activity
that will help improve her health. Beneficial lifestyle
changes that can be sustained over time will lead to much more
desirable and lasting weight-loss results, and an overall
improved quality of life.