Weight loss solutions: Sustainability

The “yo-yo diet”. Start diet. Weight goes down. Diet not compatible with human existence. Weight goes up. Repeat. Up and down like a yo-yo. So what can be done about it?

A quick google search for “Failed diets”.

A casual 2.19 million hits in under half a second!

It’s seems that failing on a diet is very much like being constipated.

It makes you sad. It keeps happening. But, you still want to give it another go just in case it works.

I suspect that for many people who struggle to lose weight, perhaps there is a fundamental problem with their approach. Perhaps they are missing a key feature.


Let’s check out a diagram taken (stolen is such a strong word) from a book called “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson.

Yes. This looks like someone’s 2 minute job on Microsoft Paint. But, it was probably created by a professional graphic designer who may or may not have dabbled in some cheeky Microsoft Paint.  Nevertheless, let’s consider the implications of this masterpiece. In particular, let’s consider it in the context of weight loss.

People often do the “right” things (the quotations are used very intentionally but more on this in later posts) and they are able to lose weight. Yay!!! Get the kids, we’re going to Disney Land!!!!! Welcome to Survival (weight loss).

After returning from Disney Land, you stop doing the things that got you to the Survival Stage. No need right? You already lost the weight. What more is there to gain? Perhaps, weight gain? Oh dear. Word play is clearly a work in progress for me.

Anyway, the weight starts to pile back on. Welcome Failure  (weight regain).  As you may know, I don’t like to view failure in the traditional sense. Nevertheless, I am too lazy and technologically useless to modify the diagram so I will reluctantly allow it to illustrate this point.

Many people, oscillate between Failure and Survival. I know what you are thinking. Why would you use the word oscillate? Fluctuate is a much better word to use right? Bottom line. I do what I want.

So how does Jeff Olson suggest you get from Survival (weight  loss) to Success (maintained weight loss)?

Simply put, in order to succeed, just keep doing the same things that got you from failure (weight gain)  to survival (weight loss).

In other words, the key to maintaining the desired outcome, in this case it would be weight loss, requires an inherent component of sustainability inbuilt into the approach of diet and exercise. It follows then that to be sustainable, it needs to at least eventually, become easy. This is important. It can’t always feel difficult because will power is a finite resource.

So if you ever make the noble decision of wanting to lose weight and keep it off, ask yourself CAN I DO THIS FOREVER?

If the answer is NO, perhaps you are setting yourself up to fail. Repeated failure does very little for your confidence. So next time you decide to try the “soup for the rest of your life diet”, have a think about whether this is something you can do forever? Yes, the word “forever” sounds grim but it is a useful exercise to do. Of course, exercise itself is also a useful exercise to do. Clearly still working on that word play thing.

It is worth noting that the buddhist monk in me is far from impressed. “Grasshopper, those who are wise understand that nothing lasts. Impermanence is the only certainty of life. There is no such thing as forever “. Sshhhhhhh be cool.

Of course, you need to try something first to decide whether you can commit to it for the long term. Marriage is a good example (sorry just wanted to make sure my wife is reading my posts).

Anyway, next time you try a diet and it doesn’t go your way, don’t lose hope. Perhaps you just haven’t found a healthy approach that is sustainable for YOU. It really needs to become a “lifestyle” for it to work long term.

“It really needs to be a lifestyle change you know…you gotta eat, sleep and breathe it brooooo” – generic hipster/cool kid.

As always, don’t do drugs, stay in school and remember that Microsoft Paint is grossly underrated.

Related posts:


The Cause Of Obesity Part 1: Big Picture

The Cause Of Obesity Part 2: Changing Bad Habits

The Cause of Obesity Part 3: Eating Carbohydrates

The Cause of Obesity Part 4: Eating Fats

The whole (food) does not equal the sum of its parts

Comment and share! Would absolutely love to hear other people’s experiences regarding this and what they have learnt. What are your secrets to sustainable weight loss?

BKTY (be kind to yourself) and BKTO (be kind to others)

Dr G