What Weight Fluctuations Do to Your Body

This is going to cross post on WATRD tonight.

Through all my years of compulsive overeating / bingeing, my body weight has fluctuated between 105-172 pounds. 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 wasBe 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?

One Day at a Time... Nurture myself... Awareness... Letting Go... Listen to my Body

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Comments

43 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Julie - Big Girl Bombshell
    14 April 2010, 9:47 pm

    I have actually heard all of this before. I believe that your body does a lot of amazing things and we really have no idea. I just read today that it was not until the mid 1980’s that nutrition was recommended as part of the curriculum for schools of medicine. Unbelievable…I agree with you..being optimistic and being mindful of the thoughts we have is just as important to our health as diet and exercise.
    .-= Julie – Big Girl Bombshell´s last blog ..Fear of Feeling =-.

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    love2eatinpa Reply:

    wow, i must be living under a rock, a lot of that was news to me.
    yikes, they didn’t recommend teaching about nutrition in schools until 25 years ago?!?!?

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    Megan @ Healthy Hoggin' Reply:

    What’s really frustrating, is that even TODAY only about 6% of our medical doctors receive ANY training in nutrition!! I asked my personal doctor about this, and she said it’s not even a requirement at the school she graduated from– and it’s really common to not take any classes on it!

    I guess it’s easier to prescribe drugs to “relieve” the symptoms, rather than learn about diet and nutrition to actually fix the problem causing the symptoms!! So frustrating… 🙁
    .-= Megan @ Healthy Hoggin’´s last blog ..At-home spa day =-.

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    love2eatinpa Reply:

    oh wow, i had no idea nutrition wasn’t required for doctors! to me that’s a no-brainer. i guess that’s the reason we would have to see a nutritionist. nothing like paying two co-pays!

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    Rita Reply:

    We found this out in school just recently. As soon to be personal trainers, we actually receive more training in nutrition and weight management than family physicians. It was shocking to me as well.
    .-= Rita´s last blog ..Vacations, Buffets and Thoughts on Binging =-.

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    it’s good to know that someone will know about this stuff and can impart it to the public!

  2. Kyle
    14 April 2010, 10:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing this…there are some new nuggets along with an older, but consistent message about yo-yo dieting. I was a yo-yo expert, too.

    I was diagnosed with “fatty liver” over a year ago. I’m anxious to see what 60+ pounds lost recently will do to my blood work. I think/hope it is reversible.
    .-= Kyle´s last blog ..Thin versus Fit / Giveaway Reminder =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    wow, kyle, so the fatty liver thing really happned to you, i’m sorry to hear that. are you do for bloodwork again soon? how cool would it be if you reversed it? i have a suspicion that you did. =)

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  3. Megan @ Healthy Hoggin'
    15 April 2010, 2:33 am

    I have heard of this before– and have experienced it first hand! I always thought I was “getting away” with my binges, because I always yo-yoed within the same 15-lb range. However, I’ve definitely noticed that while I’m in the same weight range, I’m MUCH more flabby! Like, a LOT more flabby!! It’s amazing how much fat is still stored on my body, and how I’m really having to make up for all those years of yo-yoing! It’s definitely harder to lose weight each time, too!

    Thanks for the reminder! Sometimes I need to remember that it’s worth it to take things slow and steady… and I really do want to take care of my heart!!
    .-= Megan @ Healthy Hoggin’´s last blog ..At-home spa day =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i would have thought the same as you, that a 15-lb swing wouldn’t make much difference either. our bodies really do have a mind of their own. you bring up a great point – though we always want the weight to come off, like, yesterday, slow and steady really is the best way.

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  4. Jess
    15 April 2010, 3:58 am

    I have yo-yo’d for the last 3 years (between 180-220) and the reason why it worries me isn’t so much the fat gain and everything but my mental state that accompanies the re-gains. It means that I could lose the weight and fix the outside, but I hadn’t fixed the inside yet. But I know this time is different. I’ve learned to love food differently and look at fat grams as not the enemy. I have learned to love myself because I am more than just a number on the scale. I have found the joy and love and addiction of running, and it’s beautiful. So I think the worst part about yo-yoing, even though it hurts your physical health, is that it means your mental health isn’t where it needs to be.

    (And as a side note, muscle doesn’t burn quite that much more than fat. Only 3 times more. 6 calories per pound of muscle v. 2 per pound of fat.)
    .-= Jess´s last blog ..Day 72: Project Barefoot =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    you bring up a great point, jess, gains are usually due to something other than the food itself, it’s from an emotional issue. but yes, once you figure out and work on that emotional eating, the other things fall into place. we should all be striving to get healthy and love ourselves, not necessarily become thin.

    thanks for the updated facts. i’m glad you stopped by, jess!

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  5. […] from: What Weight Fluctuations Do to Your Body | Confessions of a … By admin | category: body, body on me | tags: black-moustache, body, clothes, milena, […]

  6. Patsy
    15 April 2010, 9:27 am

    I had a vague idea about this… I particularly like the “now you know how NOT to lose weight” positive take from past failures. 🙂

    My MIL lost about 50lbs on a VLC faddy liquid diet about 5 years ago and it’s completely mucked up her metabolism. She’s regained most of the weight she lost and just can’t shift more than a pound or two… 🙁
    .-= Patsy´s last blog ..WOW! =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    it’s great that you were wise enough to take something away from past failures and tun them into positives.

    ugh, your poor m-i-l. those fad diets never work. slow n’ steady always wins the race

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  7. Karen @ Waisting Time
    15 April 2010, 9:27 am

    Well, as a reforming yo-yo dieter, this was quite depressing. I had always assumed that I was messing up my metabolism, but not all that other damage. Sigh. But since I have committed to no more yo-yo and making my latest diet my last and a lifestyle change, I am just going to keep on keeping on. All I can do.
    .-= Karen @ Waisting Time´s last blog ..The Sighs of my Thighs =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    me too, karen, i knew about the metabolism issue, but had no idea about the other damage that we can’t see. makes me want to maintain my weight all the more now. had i known then, what i knew now, would i have changed anything? hard to say. i’m not sure i was open to all the changes i’ve made until the past few years. guess it took me a while, huh? =)

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  8. Holly
    15 April 2010, 10:44 am

    Wow, that is really interesting! I’d heard/read something along those lines awhile back, but it really does scare me a little to see it all out there. I haven’t yo-yo’d *too* much (aside from a few pounds up/down), but I have had a couple of times in my life where I’ve put on 15-20 pounds very very quickly. I guess this is another reason to maintain my current weight….it’s really amazing what we put our bodies through and how it can affect them even years after. Thanks for much for this information!
    .-= Holly´s last blog ..DOES Size Matter? =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    it is amazing what we put our bodies through and really have no idea (cuz we can’t see under our skin!). i feel like – who knows what’s brewing inside me that i have no idea about, even though i’ve been maintaining a healthy weight now. i hope that some of it is reversible with eating well and exercise.

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  9. Rita
    15 April 2010, 12:16 pm

    Well, maybe it didn’t feel fortunate at the time but I’ve only lost and regained about 60lbs, not counting this last and final time, so I guess it’s more like 150. It’s always interesting to see an article like this right next to *Lose your belly in 7days* Alas, one day a consistent message, lol.
    .-= Rita´s last blog ..Vacations, Buffets and Thoughts on Binging =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    that’s not too bad for yo-yoing.

    lol! i know the ads are crazy. this morning at the gym i saw a commerical for a new slim fast plan and i forget it now but the tagline was something to the effect of “why waitt when you can lose it fast!”. good grief!!!

    [Reply]

    Rita Reply:

    And while you’re at the gym too! Doing the healthy stuff that will make the real difference. It appears since I always wanted to lose weight I felt like I was dieting more than I was.
    .-= Rita´s last blog ..It’s been 4 short days of… =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i hear ya!

  10. Sarah
    15 April 2010, 1:29 pm

    I’ve had a recent weight gain and am trying to lose it — this gives me great incentive to not regain any more!!

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    good for you! good luck! just lose it properly, ok? =)

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  11. Anonymous Fat Girl
    15 April 2010, 1:40 pm

    This is very scary to me. I actually just purchased the latest Women’s Health Mag but haven’t had time to dig into it yet. Thanks for putting this out there I’ll make sure I check that article out!!! Missed your blog while I was gone. Finally catching up! 🙂
    .-= Anonymous Fat Girl´s last blog ..Extremes: Food overabundance and the brink of starvation =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    kinida scared the crap out of me too. i guess i was just ignorant or living under a rock not to have known this stuff.

    glad to have you back!

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  12. Lisa
    15 April 2010, 1:54 pm

    Wow…it is awful what yo yoing can do to our bodies. It makes me a little sad honestly to know what I’ve done to my body. I’m putting my best foot forward though and trying to fight this ED with all my strength once and for all!!

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i hear you, it makes me sad too.
    you can do it, lisa! we’re all cheering for you!

    [Reply]

    Rita Reply:

    I second that, it can be done and this hear blog is an incredible piece of inspiration for that.
    .-= Rita´s last blog ..It’s been 4 short days of… =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    aw, shucks! thanks, rita! as i say, if i can do it, anyone can!

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  13. Biz
    15 April 2010, 3:06 pm

    Gosh, I never really thought of that! I’ve been complaining that my weight loss has been slow because of insulin, but now I am not sure.

    Oh, and it may be the wine at night that is stalling my weight loss too! 😀
    .-= Biz´s last blog ..Love Note! =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    well, something to ask your dr about maybe. but hey, that wine could be doing it too. =)

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  14. Yum Yucky
    15 April 2010, 3:30 pm

    uh oh. I know someone who has be yo-yo-ing for years with the help of a so-called Diet Doctor. She needs to read this. She won’t listen to me. 🙁
    .-= Yum Yucky´s last blog ..Viral Bacterium Germy Infestated Exercises =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    hopefully showing this to her will help. good luck!

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  15. Jody - Fit at 52
    15 April 2010, 3:52 pm

    I saw this on The Today Show & was going to post the article off their website… and here it is! Such important info to get out there. I may still post about it in the future as I think people need to read it!

    PS: I saw the Genisoy bars when I was out but VERY limited flavors so I passed for now. Will keep looking!
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..When Being Thin Goes Wrong =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    wow, i didn’t know it was on the today show! the info was pretty eye opening for me. i can only hope that i didn’t too much damage all those years. it gives me more incentive to maintain my weight loss.

    aw, that is so sweet that you looked for the genisoy bars! hopefully you fill find a flavor you like the next time. =)

    [Reply]

  16. Jess
    17 April 2010, 11:19 pm

    Yikes.

    Everything they said was 100% common sense that I think I knew but was in denial of. Sometimes having that right in front of my face reminds me that committing to abstinence and recovery isn’t about losing weight, it’s about progressing from a life where the acquisition of food affects every decision I make. It’s about healing the actual problem, not patching the symptom with a diet and “calling it good”.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    it is common sense, but i hardly knew any of that information. yes, our food choices do make a big difference on the inside as well as the outside. my new motto – everything in moderation.

    [Reply]

  17. Lisa
    18 April 2010, 1:40 am

    When I was 250 I had no concept of what calories, servings or healthy choices were. Learning those things changed my entire existence and I can never go back!
    .-= Lisa ´s last blog ..Vernonia-Banks Biking Adventure =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    knowledge is power. congrats! way to go, lisa!

    [Reply]

  18. MB
    21 April 2010, 4:56 pm

    Thanks for the info. It all makes sense. Just another reason why this WILL be the last time I play this game. I’m doing it slower than ever but hoping the slower it takes the more likely it will stay off for good.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    great attitude! and yes, slow and steady wins the race, as frustrating as it may be sometimes. those quick losses never stay off.
    thanks for stopping by, mb!

    [Reply]

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