3 Reasons Most Diets Fail and How to Succeed
I’m sure you’ve been on a diet at some point in your life. We all have. I remember trying the Master Cleanse, the Cabbage Soup Diet and during my fitness competition days, a strict low fat diet that required me to weigh my food for 4 months.
I bet you’re wondering if any of them worked. Well, sure they did. I followed my competition diet perfectly. I lost almost 20 pounds, I had very little pinchable fat on my body and I looked amazing. I followed the Master Cleanse for 10 days where I ate no solid food and drank a mixture of lemonade and maple syrup. I lost about 8 pounds, which was close to 1 pound per day. My skin was glowing and I had never felt better. Amazing, right? Not quite.
What happened in the days and weeks that followed the end of these diets is what most people don’t tell you about. I gained all the weight back, was uncomfortably bloated and my relationship with food was destroyed for many years. Keep reading to learn about the top 3 reasons that diets fail and some tips for succeeding.
1. Your willpower runs out
Most people start a diet based on will power and the assumption that they have the capacity to delay gratification and desires. Yes, there are some people in the world that just have amazing will power. Not me (raising my hand high). I don’t have it. I’ve never had it. I’ve had goals that caused me to make certain choices, but will power is just not in my genes. Will power eventually runs out and you “cave in” or “cheat” on your diet. When this happens you feel like you failed and are less likely to try that same thing again.
Fix: Instead of will power, try why power. The power of why is guaranteed to outlast the power of will. Have you ever really asked yourself the reason WHY you are going on this diet. WHY do you want to lose weight? WHY do you want to make these health changes? I don’t mean the “I want to look better”, “I want to feel better” answers. I mean, really truly searched your heart and prayed about the reasons why? Have you committed your goals to God and made Him a part of your why? When your why is stronger than your will, you are more likely to succeed
Action Step: Spend some time in prayer and invite God into your health goals. Ask Him to help you define your why. Write down your “why” in your journal and commit it to the Lord.
2. You restrict food groups
Once my competition diet ended, I felt a new sense of freedom surrounding food. I spent 4 months restricting food groups and perfectly calculating everything I ate that once I didn’t have to do that anymore, I ate everything in sight. Pastries, candy and pizza seemed like some amazing new food invention that I was trying for the first time. I went to buffets and stuffed my face at parties. I celebrated the end of my diet by eating everything that was off limits for the past 4 months. I had no will power and wanted to eat everything I wasn’t allowed to have. This resulted in gaining 30 pounds over the next year.
Have you ever been told you couldn’t do something or couldn’t have something? Did you just forget about or did it make you want it more? It’s kind of like telling a 3 year old not to put something in their mouth, only to find out that’s exactly what they do the second you turn your back. It’s human nature to want something we can’t have.
Fix: Instead of restricting foods, start new habits of adding foods. Habit-based eating is so much more efficient and permanent than quick fix diets. Habits such as adding fruits and vegetables and eating slowly are more likely to result in weight loss and long-lasting lifestyle changes
Action Step: Figure out what foods make you feel good. Not the immediate gratification kind of good, but the satisfied and nourished kind of good. These foods will be different for each of us. Start a daily habit of adding those foods into your day. For example: I love kalmata olives and they are good for me because they contain healthy fats. My habit will be to add 1 serving of kalmata olives into my lunch or dinner. This is so much easier than telling myself I can’t eat bread or sweets.
3. You don’t have accountability
The biggest complaint I hear from women when they try to start a lifestyle change is that they don’t have accountability. You see, when willpower runs out and you have no one to report to, it gets very difficult to find a reason to keep going. No one will know if you eat the entire bar of chocolate, no one is asking if you’ve exercised today and as long as your clothes still fit, there’s really no need to keep going with that awful diet. I wrote my entire thesis on behavior change surrounding weight loss. My takeaway was that women need to know that someone else believes they can succeed.
Fix: You need an accountability partner. Before you do this, you need to decide what they will keep you accountable for? Is it your new healthy food habit? Or, maybe it’s a daily walk around the block. Pick one habit to start with and do it for 2 weeks before you start a new one.
Action Step: Find an accountability partner. Yes, this can be God. If you are in the habit of daily prayer and want to add your health goals into your conversations with the Lord, I think this is a great idea. Some people need a person they can call on the phone or report to face to face. Whichever it is, find that person and ask them for help.
Are you ready to take the next step towards living a healthier life? Maybe it’s weight loss, fat loss or learning to make better food choices for more energy and a longer life. Start with 1 of the action steps above and implement it until it’s a habit. Then move on to the next one.
Do you feel like you still need some coaching to succeed in your goals? I’m proud to announce that I have a brand new coaching program that incorporates our faith into making better nutrition choices. It’s a 4 week program done at your own pace for less than $50. You can check it out here.
Do you have more questions about succeeding in your goals? Post your questions in the comment below, I would love to hear from you!