Why You Can’t Stick to a Diet
You have good intentions. You do your research. You weed through different plans and programs finally selecting the one you think will work for you. You set a goal and then pick a start date. Let the weight loss begin! But something happens, you can’t stick to a diet. AGAIN! This time was supposed to be different.
Why you can’t stick to a diet
Whether you fall off the wagon in a week or in 6 months keep reading if this sounds like your story.
I’ve worked with clients for weight loss since 2013. I’ve seen them succeed and unfortunately I’ve seen them fail. So here’s what I know. I don’t believe anyone quits because they lack willpower. Here are several reasons why I see people struggle to see it through.
Their motivation is coming from the wrong place.
You need to do it because you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. If you are only losing weight because your spouse is urging you to or your doctor told you to, you’ll quit. If you are losing weight for an event such as a wedding, you’ll quit after the event.
Solution: Wait until you are ready.
They have an all or nothing mentality about dieting.
Moderation isn’t considered. They pick a plan that is super restrictive and difficult to follow. It may require excessive exercise or cutting out entire food groups. They make the changes and see great results but the changes aren’t sustainable. Because they are an all or nothing thinker they burnout, fall off the wagon and revert back to eating unhealthy food.
Solution: Learn moderation. Make lifestyle changes you can sustain. Look for the middle ground. Maybe you want to cut out soda. First, cut down to drinking it only at restaurants and never buying it at the grocery store. Then maybe in a few months you’ll be able to stop drinking it altogether. Or not. Leave room for the middle ground.
They don’t tell anyone they are making changes so there is no accountability.
This is usually someone who isn’t very confident they can lose weight BUT they want to try. So they don’t tell anyone because that would set up expectations they aren’t sure that they can meet.
Solution: Set up accountability. It can be a spouse, friend or family member. Organize a weight loss contest at work. Better yet, see a registered dietitian and get professional guidance and accountability. Many insurance plans cover nutrition counseling as a preventive service. That means it is totally FREE to you. Contact our office if you want to see what your coverage is. 704-995-3434.
The cost of staying where they are is less than the cost of changing.
This makes so much sense. Someone may be miserable at their current weight for lots of reasons. But they have an understanding of what they will need to do to lose weight. They unconsciously weight out the two. If the pain of staying at their current weight is less than their perceived pain of having to make the changes, they will take action. Some people start a diet/lifestyle change with this mentality. They know it will be hard but they think it will be worth it. Then they get into the hard work. The rubber meets the road and they have to start saying no to eating late night. They have to go grocery shopping when they want to get takeout. They have to exercise after work when they want to go home. After a few weeks of this, something shifts. This is too hard. They pain of staying at their current weight is suddenly BETTER than having to do all this hard work. Result? They quit.
Solution: Start small. Making multiple changes may feel like too much. Pick one or two things you know would make you a healthier person and start there. Reassess later and continue small changes.
They rely on food to help cope with their feelings.
When the feeling comes up and they want to use food, they don’t have any other coping mechanisms in place to deal. This person quits pretty quickly.
Solution: Before setting out to lose weight, figure out which emotions trigger you and develop alternative methods of coping.
This is my jam! If this sounds like you, consider taking the first step and join me in my online course Feelings and Fries. The next one starts May 3. I’m linking to all the details here.
Their nervous system does not feel safe when they lose weight.
This one sounds crazy but stick with me. Our nervous system is designed to keep us safe – both physically and mentally. It’s what activates when you see a bear in the woods. It enables you to sprint away with a boost of adrenaline. It protects you and keeps you safe. What if there is something about your nervous system that thinks being at your goal weight is unsafe?
Like what?? Glad you asked. Here’s some examples from clients I’ve worked with.
I’m afraid if I lose weight my husband will think I’m cheating and he will leave me.
I’m afraid if I lose weight I’ll get unwanted attention from men. This is common with sexual abuse survivors.
People will expect more of me and I’m scared I can’t deliver.
I’m afraid if I lose weight I’ll have to start dating and I’m terrified to get hurt again.
My husband loves my body but I don’t. I’m scared what my weight loss will do to our relationship.
To be honest, none of my clients have seen this in the beginning. Here’s what usually happens. They begin losing weight and everything is great. Then they have a bad week, maybe gain a pound back. They explain it away and vow to do better the next week. Then the next week they are still off track and eventually this leads to me having a heart to heart discussion about why they are sabotaging. If you think this could be you, ask yourself these probing questions.
Picture yourself at your goal weight. What about that is BAD? Scary? Unappealing? What makes you nervous about that?
Is there someone in your life that is important to you and that person will not like it if you reach your goal weight?
Solution: You got work to put in! It’s not going to be as simple as getting a good plan and setting up accountability. If you have past trauma and you think that your nervous system could be keeping you safe, get the book
How the Body keeps the Score – by Bessel Van Der Kolk
Lastly, watch this 7 minute video from someone I follow closely and have learned so much from. His name is Mastin Kipp. I’m linking here to his video called “Let’s put an end to self-sabotage.”
I hope this sheds some light into why you or your loved ones may start a diet with good intentions and quit.
Until next time.
Your biggest supporter,
If you want to see my YouTube video on this topic, here.
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