5 Reasons Your Diet May Be Doomed to Fail Before You Even Begin

Signs your plan is doomed to fail before you even begin (plus success strategies to help you get off on the right foot) – Part 1 of 2

This is it. This is the time that you’ll finally get your act together and GET HEALTHY. This is the time you’ll lose the weight for good!

But with studies suggesting that only 5% of dieters succeed at losing the weight and keeping it off, odds don’t look good. So before you take the first step, check your plan to make sure that step won’t be backwards.


#1 – You’re still surrounded by junk food

You’re committed. No junk or sweets. But your cupboard says otherwise. Every time you go to grab a handful of almonds you have to stare a bag of chocolate chips in the face.

You still have a candy dish on your desk at work. No fast food for you, but you’ll still drive through McDonalds to get dinner for your family.

By not changing the environment around you, your healthy journey has become a war of willpower.

Studies have shown that willpower is a finite source, meaning that the more we have to say “no” to something, the more likely we are to say “yes” to the next thing.

We get worn out and mentally exhausted by denying ourselves. Here’s a general rule of thumb to remember: if it’s in your house (or car or desk), eventually it will get eaten.


Success Strategy #1:

Change your environment

Make it MUCH easier to choose the healthier option.

If your choices are (1) opening the fridge and grabbing an apple or (2) getting in your car, driving to the nearest convenience store, purchasing a candy bar, and driving back home…odds are you’ll choose the apple!

Here’s another rule of thumb: You can’t impulse eat something that’s not in reach.

Start by cleaning out your cupboards, placing the healthy food in more visible locations, and not keeping a secret stash of treats “just in case.”

When shopping, if you shouldn’t eat it then don’t buy it. On those times that you do intentionally choose to indulge, go out and enjoy one serving.  By going to an ice cream parlor and enjoying a cone, you’re saving yourself from the mental struggle of having a carton of ice cream sitting in your freezer for the next week.

Rely on planning and forethought, not willpower.


#2 – You have an end date

If you have a day on the calendar circled as the end of your diet, don’t expect to see any long-lasting results.

If the day after your best friend’s wedding is the day you are planning to face plant into a pizza, you are viewing your healthy choices as a short-term fix to a long-term issue.

The reality: temporary changes yield temporary results.

This is where many people struggle. As soon as we reach our goal, we go right back to our old eating habits.

This leads to putting the same weight back on (if not more), and once again we find ourselves looking for the next “30-day challenge” to get ourselves back in shape.


Success Strategy #2: 

Change your “normal”

If you want permanent changes, this means you have to change your lifestyle…permanently.

Changing your lifestyle is simply redefining what normal is to you. Right now, “normal” may mean a Frappuccino for breakfast and ice cream at night.

To see different results, those daily choices have to change.

Give yourself time to make these adjustments. When you begin to view your health with a long-term perspective, the goal becomes making healthy living feel natural and easy—that way you can continue with your new habits for the rest of your life.

Start pinpointing one change you are willing to make.

For maximum benefit, choose something that impacts you every day (I.e, swapping your daily Coke for water) instead of something that only comes up every once in a while (i.e. saying “no” to dessert on your monthly date with your spouse).

Stick with that one change until it starts to feel comfortable and not an extreme struggle. Then, move onto the next habit. Little by little, without too much deprivation, you’ll find you have created a new life for yourself and you have redefined what’s normal for you.


#3 – You’re measuring success by the scale

Oh the scale. A seemingly innocuous piece of technology that can determine whether we have a good or bad day in 3 seconds. If you weigh yourself every morning to see if your “diet” is working, you’re fighting a losing battle.

Why? The scale never tells the whole story.

Some (not all) of the things that can affect the number on the scale: How hydrated we are, what we ate the night before, our quality of sleep, any muscle gain/loss, or even if we had a hard workout that day.

Because of this, our weight is in constant flux.

And this can play some vicious mind games with us. A positive scale result leads to either extra motivation that day or an excuse to binge because we “earned it.” A negative result leads to either punishment with bland, low-cal food or giving up completely in frustration.

No matter what path we take, our choices for that day are now determined by our reaction to the scale instead of our goals.

Success Strategy #3: 

Change your definition of success 

Look for “non-scale” feedback in your life to help you determine if you are on the right path. Notice more energy during the day? Do you find yourself in a happier mood? Are your clothes fitting better? Sick less? What about your performance in the gym? Have you been able to work out at a higher intensity?

All of these are good clues that the changes you have been making are working toward increasing your health.

These are much more meaningful insights than the scale could ever provide. After all, if you have a ton of energy, feel great in your clothes, are crushing your workouts, and deal with less illness during the year, who cares what the scale tells you?


Check out tomorrow’s post for Part 2 – for more helpful tips and strategies to ensure success!