How Carrie Fisher Can Avoid Yo-Yo Dieting

03/09/2012 15:49 BST | Updated 03/11/2012 09:12 GMT

Carrie Fisher, the actress who played Princess Leia in Star Wars has apparently gained back weight after announcing a 50 pound weight loss last year.

What went wrong?

With anyone who loses weight and gains it back, I believe that most people focus on the period after weight loss. They blame things like a lack of discipline for people straying off the path, even after achieving so much.

I don't think is the correct way of looking at things. With most cases of yoyo dieting, the mistakes are often made while losing weight.

I believe that in the case of anyone who has lost weight and then gained it back, they should ask themselves two questions.

1. Were the changes I made sensitive to my underlying lifestyle?

All of us have different eating habits. These are often a result of many factors such as convenience, fitting in with what other people at home eat and eating for pleasure. If it wasn't for these factors why else would you do them?

The problem with a diet is that it forces you to jettison all the things you used to do and instead follow a prescribed eating plan. A diet doesn't take into account what's convenient for you, what's enjoyable or how your family eats. You either do what the diet says, or you're not on the diet.

But the fact is, the more drastic the changes involved are, the harder it is to stick to them. You might be able to stick to a strict diet for a few weeks, but it's much harder to continue indefinitely. And especially when people are under stress they revert to old habits.

Therefore the ideal weight loss programme is one that fits in with your current lifestyle, not one that completely overhauls what you were doing previously.

2. When I lost the weight, was I confident that the method I was using was one that I was comfortable doing for the rest of my life?

So many people do things to lose weight, that if they were being honest with themselves, they had no real inclination to keep doing them forever.

This includes the person who decides they are going to run 5 miles every morning but knows that as soon as the weather turns cold it's going to be much easier to stay in bed.

It also includes the person who doesn't eat at restaurants while trying to lose weight or puts off their weight loss until after their holiday. If you intend to keep eating out and holidaying after you've lost weight, then you have to learn how to cope with those things while you're losing weight.

If you make changes to your eating and exercise that you only want to do while you're losing weight (but not after), then you are condemning yourself to yoyo dieting.

What these two questions emphasise is that you need to think about how you are going to maintain your weight loss, even before you lose it.

So how do we ensure that the changes we make will be long-term ones?

1. Make small changes. Drastic changes are too difficult to integrate into your current lifestyle. Make small changes each week over a longer period of time to ensure sustainability.

2. Make the changes, ones that you feel confident continuing for the long term.

3. Make the changes fit in with your life. You want to still be able to eat out, travel and enjoy life while maintaining your weight. If not, your weight loss won't last.

When I help my clients lose weight, I am much more concerned with weight maintenance than weight loss. When you change your habits in a sustainable way, the weight loss will inevitably follow.

For more about a behavioural approach, click here.