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The Yo-Yo DIET SYNDROMEHow to Heal and Stabilize Your Appetite and Weight
By Doreen Virtue
HAY HOUSE, INC.Copyright © 1989 Doreen Virtue
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome
"A normally-minded person will eat normally. If one is a glutton, it is because his mentality is filled with unexpressed longings, which he is trying to sublimate."
- Ernest Holmes (1887-1960), the author of The Science of Mind
Gina, a 42-year-old brunette, tried all the diets, and none of them worked for her. "I need to lose 30 pounds, but I just keep putting more weight on!" she told me. Gina was desperate. Standing 5'6", she weighed 175 pounds. She had been on one diet after another since age 15, and she'd lost and regained her excess weight too many times to remember. Gina suffered from the Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome-that is, her weight chronically fluctuated up and down.
For people such as Gina, losing weight has little to do with dieting. She knew, as so many of us do, that weight loss depends on burning more calories than are consumed. Like Gina, most of us have read countless diet books and have joined diet clubs; we're experts on dieting. Yet, for all this knowledge, we can't keep the lost weight off! New research shows that people worldwide are more overweight thanever before. Why? Because weight has little to do with the body, and everything to do with the mind and spirit. We use food to relax; as a reward; to procrastinate working on our life purpose; and for short-term relief from fear, stress, or emotional pain.
The Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome is not a physical issue. It is a behavioral response to holding depressing thoughts about oneself and one's life. At one time, a popular notion was that yo-yo dieting caused sluggish metabolisms, and that weight regains were natural consequences of continual dieting. New research disputes this theory, however. A 1994 study released by the National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity published in The Journal of the American Medical Association took a group of the best and brightest scientists and asked them to review all the research to date about the links between "weight cycling" (the clinical term for The Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome) and health conditions. The scientists concluded that most previous studies about weight cycling had been seriously flawed. For example, some compared groups of Yo-Yoers against "control" groups of people whose weight was supposedly stable. However, we now know that the people in many of the control groups had histories of extreme weight fluctuations, which makes any comparison between the groups meaningless!
Previous studies also lacked consistent definitions for weight fluctuations or a yo-yo dieter. The task force concluded:
The majority of studies do not support an adverse effect of weight cycling on metabolism. The currently available evidence is not sufficiently compelling to override the potential benefits of moderate weight loss in significantly obese patients. Therefore, obese individuals should not allow concerns about hazards of weight cycling to deter them from efforts to control their body weight.... There is no convincing evidence that weight cycling in humans has adverse effects on body composition, energy expenditure, risk factors for cardiovascular disease, or the effectiveness of future efforts at weight loss.
Because the Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome is rooted in our psychological self-image, not in a defective metabolism, I always steered my clients away from focusing upon their bodies, weight, or food. Every physical correlation of the Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome can be traced back to psychological roots. For example, clinical studies and my own research show that Yo-Yoers-especially Binge eaters-have significantly higher levels of depression and psychopathology than do the general population.
The Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome creates a mad cycle of depression leading to eating, and then eating leading to depression. Compared to the general population:
* Binge eaters are more likely to see themselves and the world through negative points of view.
* Binge eaters are more likely to overeat in response to negative emotions.
Fortunately, this negativity can be halted and healed! Instead of seeking to control your appetite and your weight, we'll work on spiritual and psychological ways to take charge of your thoughts so they're more loving, positive, and truthful. By changing the framework of your thinking from fear based to love based, negative thoughts and feelings will dissipate-and so will your desire to binge-eat.
By pinpointing the issues that kept Gina, the client from the beginning of this chapter, in her overeating mode, I helped her adopt a healthy relationship with herself, with her body, and with food. As a result, her weight dropped naturally, and today there is no reason to believe that Gina will ever be heavy again.
If you're tired of fighting your weight and your appetite, you too can heal them. I say "heal" because overeating is a disease-like behavior that hurts our physical and mental health. Diets are bandages. They mask, but don't stop, the underlying pain that is the root cause of overeating. The only cure for compulsive overeating is to heal its psychological source. Be assured that you can heal your weight. You deserve freedom from the tyranny of an out-of-control appetite!
What Is the Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome?
The Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome is a pattern of losing and gaining weight over and over again. Women are particularly vulnerable, although men certainly suffer from the syndrome, too. All sorts of attempts are made to lose weight-skipping meals and fasting, exercising and fad diets-but the weight is just a symptom of the true syndrome, which is a sequence of psychological and physical patterns common to Yo-Yo Syndrome dieters.
If you've been on many diets in your lifetime but are currently unhappy with your weight, if you tend to binge on a certain type of food (chocolate, potato chips, bread, spicy foods, cheese, and so on), and if you eat more when you're angry or stressed, chances are that you suffer from the Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome. If so, you know firsthand the frustration of looking for the magical cure that will take your weight off and keep it off for good.
Most diet books and programs deal with the problem on a purely physical basis, promising that if you combine foods in certain ways or eliminate fats, carbohydrates, refined ingredients, or dairy products, your excess weight will disappear forever. The limited long-term success of these diet plans is clearly illuminated by the way "new" diets are constantly sought out and are propelled into best-selling books, one after another. If any of these books contained the secret to permanent weight loss, there would be no need for new diet books.
These books haven't been permanently adopted by many dieters because they don't address the main reasons why people overeat. In fact, most diets contribute to dieters' eating obsessions by asking them to constantly weigh and measure their food, thus leading to more preoccupation with food and eating than if they weren't on a diet! These diets are often a lot of work and are difficult to stay on for more than a few weeks or months. What has been needed is a simple yet effective way to manage and heal the psychological pain that causes overeating. That method, based upon spiritual healing methods that are successfully used to treat physical and emotional conditions, is detailed in these pages.
Some books say it's okay to be overweight. Society is too obsessed with being thin, the authors write, with an underlying message to "stop worrying about your weight so much-you're fine just as you are." While I'm the first to agree that the media have contributed to the national obsession with losing weight, I don't think it's wrong to want to look and feel healthy.
Many scientifically sound studies have pointed out that thin or normal-weight people consistently receive better treatment from strangers, spouses, children, employers, and co-workers, as compared to the obese. Is this fair? Of course not. But is unfairness any reason to ignore such a strong social bias? In truth, we're probably all prejudiced in favor of aesthetic beauty, whether it means appreciating an attractive body, a breathtaking flower, an impressive mansion, or a skillfully filmed movie.
There's nothing wrong with or superficial about wanting to improve your fitness level. Being fit doesn't erase all of life's problems, but in many ways it does make life easier. If you shed the obsession with eating and with losing weight, you automatically have more time on your hands.
Admittedly, the prospect of having more time frightens some people into diving right back into their bags of chips. After all, a core reason for overeating is to procrastinate about working on one's life purpose. The Yo-Yo Syndrome dieter tells herself, I can't start working on my true goals until I lose this weight. The pain involved in putting off working on our life purpose, and the anguished worry about whether we're capable of fulfilling our life purpose, is temporarily quelled by overeating.
If your weight constantly fluctuates, you're paying dearly for it. Your ever-changing fat levels can damage your self-esteem and confidence, your relationships with people, and your pocketbook.
The reasons why people suffer from the Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome vary, so there's no one absolute right way for everyone to heal their appetite. The methods outlined herein take this individuality into account and offer you ways to match your recovery program with your unique situation and eating style. Much of what you'll read about in this book will trigger deep feelings. Please don't ignore or cover up these feelings with food! Instead, listen to your heart's guidance, as this is how you'll discover your personal pathway to a more healthful and meaningful life.
The Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome combines the therapeutic methods of spiritual healing, psychotherapy, and behavioral modification. The goal is for you to learn simple, effective ways to manage your moods so that your appetite for food stays naturally low. My personal and clinical experiences have taught me one lesson loud and clear: Successful weight maintenance hinges upon maintaining your peace of mind. Keep your mind and heart at peace and your appetite stays normal. Your weight naturally follows suit.
All of the steps are thoroughly outlined in this book. They aren't particularly difficult, but each one is important. For that reason, don't read ahead of yourself. In other words, complete each step as you read it in this book, and read the steps one at a time. Please do the steps in order as you find them ... and you'll lose weight; be able to keep it off forever; and feel good about yourself spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
It's very important that you understand why you overeat as a means of finding out how to keep the weight off for good. This book is divided into two parts:
1. In the first, you will pinpoint why you overeat and read about spiritual, psychological, and behavioral ways to overcome and heal these tendencies.
2. In the second half, you will find many suggestions for lifestyle shifts and changes that go hand in hand with permanent weight loss.
A Practical Approach
The information in this book is the product of research derived from several sources.
First, my own struggle to overcome the Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome was my difficult initiation into the world of endless diets that never quite lived up to their promises. Somehow, that quick weight-loss answer always seemed to evade me.
Second, my work as a metaphysical psychotherapist treating overweight people enabled me to see firsthand the patterns of Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome sufferers. I spent countless hours with frustrated dieters and learned what they overeat and why. I also saw my approach to the Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome work on clients who were convinced that they'd never lose their excess weight.
My work blends 8 years of university training in counseling psychology, 13 years of clinical practice, and a lifelong study of metaphysics. I'm the daughter of a spiritual healer, raised to use prayer and spiritual principles to heal every seeming problem or difficulty. When I was a little girl, my mother taught me to use affirmations and visualization. Is it any wonder that I leaned upon my earliest upbringing in treating the issues of compulsive overeating?
After 13 years of clinical practice, I'm convinced that a spiritual approach to eating and weight loss is the most efficient and pleasant choice available. Yo-Yo Syndrome dieters already endure massive amounts of pain. Why inflict additional trauma through the use of conventional dieting approaches, especially when such methods are ineffective? The reason why this book emphasizes spirituality isn't to win anyone over to a particular belief system or religious philosophy. Not at all! In fact, many of my clients suffered from "religion abuse" and hypocrisy, making them fearful and suspicious of religion and spirituality. Yet, because we worked together to help them make peace with themselves, their families, and their bodies, they learned how to benefit from the spiritual approach described in this book.
Spiritual healing is the hands-down winner among all the choices available to the compulsive overeater. It offers a method for completely banishing the inner pain that causes overeating in the first place. If you're tired of struggling with the Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome, I encourage you to give these methods a fair try and see if you agree that they really work.
The information in these pages is also drawn from the latest research on obesity. There are some vital facts about brain chemistry that help explain the Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome. The researchers in this field are tracking some very exciting areas that also clarify why most diets aren't effective.
The Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome solutions that I present here have worked for me and for my clients, and they will work for you, too, if you study and use the principles.
Chapter TwoSpiritual Solutions for the Yo-Yo Diet Syndrome
"Great men are they who see that the spiritual is stronger than any material force ..."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American philosopher
Gut feelings are a superb guiding force. They tell us the best routes to take in every aspect of our lives. We've probably all had instances where we regretted ignoring a gut feeling about a job or a relationship. Conversely, we've probably obeyed an illogical intuitive impulse-and were very glad that we did.
Intuition in the form of gut feelings also tells you when to make changes in your life. Your gut may urge you to return to college, read a particular book, change careers, leave a relationship, call a certain person, or take up a new hobby. When I was fat and depressed, I felt I wasn't making a contribution to the world. My gut directed me to take psychology classes and to write books and magazine articles about my life's ups and downs. My intuition's directives initially intimidated me, and I would overeat gallons of ice cream to try to silence its ceaseless "change your life, change your life" chants. The ice cream would momentarily ease my existential discomfort. But this satiation never lasted long, and soon I would face my gut's incessant pressures to make my life healthier and more meaningful.
Finally, I gave up fighting my gut feelings. I enrolled at a local community college and immediately felt relief as my life clicked into focus. My appetite, especially for ice cream, lessened, and my weight started to drop off almost without my notice. I began writing and submitting articles to magazines. Although they were all rejected, I felt elated that I was following my inner guidance. This energy carried me through 12 years of college and propelled me to keep writing until I eventually had many books and articles successfully published.
Excerpted from The Yo-Yo DIET SYNDROME by Doreen Virtue Copyright © 1989 by Doreen Virtue. Excerpted by permission.
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