We commonly hear about “yo-yo” dieting, but in fact people are tempted to approach many other health habits in that up and down style. What is yo-yoing? When you try dieting or getting healthy in an all or nothing fashion, then you’re yo-yoing. These health habits feel great when you’re on the upswing, successfully performing all the rules that you’ve set in place. Once you run out of motivation to practice health habits at such a stringent level, then you enter the yucky downswing of this practice. All the progress you made can seem to vanish overnight. How do you break this vicious cycle?
Yo-yo habits place a burden on your body by not letting health settle into a steady rhythm. With so many ups and downs, the body doesn’t feel rested or truly taken care of. The habits are also intertwined with mental-emotional ups and downs. To break the cycle, this style of healthiness has to be recognized for what it really is—a diversion rather than true self care. When you decide to go from nothing to everything, from total neglect to constantly pressuring your mind and body to do one thing, real health habits don’t get a chance to develop.
Which health habits are you used to yo-yoing? Are they related to diet, exercise, sleep, or something else? Think about why you approach your health habits in this manner. Sometimes fear can infiltrate a natural urge to get healthy and make you feel like if you’re not doing everything, then it’s not worth the effort. This mindset can make you feel more deficient than it does provide you with effective motivation, support, and momentum toward health. Feelings of fear and deficiency then become the foundation for new health habits, and they don’t offer a very steady foundation at that.
This pendulum mindset obviously tells you that putting in smaller amounts of effort more consistently is not good enough. But does that make sense? When you watch an athlete practicing a sport, someone who goes all or nothing doesn’t get a chance to regularly practice good habits for performance. Your health is the same way. Consistent habits, even if they’re on a smaller scale will go a lot farther than large efforts that only last a few days to a week. When you focus on quality over quantity in health, you’re taking a more realistic approach and one that your body will welcome more openly and sustain over a longer period of time.
Take a look at your health habits and figure out whether they’re in danger of the chaotic yo-yo experience or whether they’re actually sustainable. Think about which of your habits have never lasted past the short-term and why that may be. If you notice some yo-yoing going on, brainstorm on how you can re-frame these habits into more lasting and quality expressions of health.
As you resist the urge to yo-yo and you settle into more realistic and consistent health care routines, you’ll be amazed at how much farther your efforts take you. The fears will be easier to face when you’re not riding a health roller coaster, and feelings of deficiency will be less frequent and instead be replaced with more natural confidence and motivation surrounding your health.