There’s a reason dieting is compared to a “yo-yo.” You’re up, you’re down, you make progress, you slip up, you’re on the diet and you’re off again. The problem with a yoyo is that it never gets to a destination. So many people get stuck in this diet mentality, alternately binging and denying themselves and never permanently reaching their weight loss goals or fitness potential. So why don’t diets work? The real problem is with a dieter’s mindset. What you need for permanent results is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. So what’s the difference?

It’s easy to obsess about numbers when you’re on a diet: the calories in a meal, pounds on the scale, and sizes of a dress. A dieter will obey the “rules” of their diet for a period of time, and if they’re really persistent, they might reach their weight loss goals. But once those goals are reached, or maybe even before, the dieter reverts to old habits and the pounds creep back on because there was never a commitment to making a lasting change.

A lifestyle change isn’t about rules. It’s about aligning your everyday behavior with your long-term health and fitness goals. It’s reevaluating not just what you eat, but why you eat. When you change your lifestyle, success is not measured in numbers (though you’ll likely see a positive change in numbers too) it’s measured in how the changes you’ve made make you feel. Are you more confident? Stronger? More energized? Are your clothes looser? That’s what’s important. You can’t “go off” or “go on” a lifestyle change, it’s a permanent commitment to a healthier, fitter way of life. It means you’re in it for the long haul.
The reality is that, to be truly successful, you need to ditch the whole idea of a diet along with its yoyo nature. Nobody likes to hear it, but here’s the truth: lasting results require a commitment to a change your lifestyle permanently. This doesn’t mean you can never have dessert again. What it does mean is that you must adopt a whole new way of thinking about and relating to food. Diets are about denying yourself temporarily and they have temporary results. Lifestyle changes are about committing to striking a balance and they have lasting rewards. Want to get serious about losing weight and getting fit? Time to put away the yoyo.