What Weight Fluctuations Do to Your Body
Through all my years of compulsive overeating /bingeing, my body weight has fluctuated. During those times, the things that were important to me were – how I looked and where in my closet are the clothes that will fit the particular weight I was at.
I calculated a few months ago that, not including my two pregnancies, I had lost and gained a good 250 pounds. It never even occurred to me that changes were happening on the inside of my body, not just the outside.
Well, I just had a scary eye-opener. The April 2010 issue of “Women’s Health” magazine has an interesting article about the facts of what happens to your body when you lose and regain weight over and over again.
Everything here is straight out of the magazine…
“If you go on a very strict diet and gain the weight back quickly, you might lose a lot of muscle and regain a lot of fat,” says Keith Ayoob, M.D., R.D., an associate professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “Then your metabolism operates on a slower idle, which means it’s going to be harder to lose weight as time goes on.”
The more times you yo-yo, the theory goes, the more fat your body gains in each rebound. Because muscle burns 10 times more calories than fat does, your metabolism eventually will slow to a crawl.
“Losing and gaining regularly takes a huge toll on your body,” Ayoob says. Beyond aesthetics, such as loss of skin elasticity, regaining weight burdens your arteries and skeletal system and may stress the liver, which can become covered in fat.
Yo-yoing also does a number on your ticker: A study in Clinical Cardiology found that women who weight cycle five times or more during their lifetimes may be damaging their hearts in the process.
But perhaps most startling is the dangerous and lasting effect weight cycling has on the immune system. According to the first study of the long-term impacts of yo-yo dieting, women who repeatedly lost and gained weight had lower immune function, particularly lower counts of natural killer cells.
“These cells are important for fending off infections and are also vital in fighting the early stages of cancer,” says Cornelia Ulrich, M.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Low killer-cell activity is associated with higher rates of cancer. In her study of more than a hundred overweight but otherwise healthy women, those who had yo-yoed most frequently – five times or more – decreased their natural killer-cell activity by a third.
With so many drawbacks, you might wonder if you’d be better off just accepting your belly rolls. But the perils of being overweight still outweigh the risks of yo-yoing. So how do you quit the cycle for good?
The article then gives a bunch of suggestions about being realistic (think of what you are doing as a permanent lifestyle shift, not just dieting as temporary fix); being patient and not losing too much, too fast; being supported (socializing with other who have successfully lost weight improves your odds of maintaining your own weight loss); recording your mood changes and hunger levels so you can learn to distinguish when you’re eating for emotional reasons; switching eating plans if you get bored; and being active along with eating properly.
The one I liked the most was- Be optimistic – “One of the most important tips for being a successful weight loser is not to let past failed attempts keep you from trying again. Every time you fail, you get more insight about what to do differently the next time.”
What do you think? Was any of this news to you? Did it worry you like it did me?