I spent over two decades on what I call the diet-go-round: jumping from one diet to the next to the next, hoping that this next one would be the answer. It never was. I kept myself going in circles until, at my heaviest, I weighed 304 pounds. As of this writing, I weigh 128 pounds. I’ve kept the weight off for 8 years and counting. I didn’t do it dieting. I do not diet anymore. Period. Now, I eat whatever I want without judgment. I got free. You can too.
You can read the first 3 reasons weight-loss efforts fail here.
If you’re temped to diet or maybe you’re even dieting now, do yourself a kindness and watch this video so you’re informed.
Just so you know: diet studies vary wildly depending on which one you read, with failure rates from 40-99% within two years. Studies also show that the vast majority of people gain all the weight back within five years.
What does that mean for you? Well, if you’re dieting, you’re likely working really hard but in the end getting nowhere. That is, until now. Here’s what I’ve learned about why most weight-loss efforts fail:
4. You are not personalizing the weight-loss plan you’ve chosen.
It’s been my experience that there is no one weight-loss plan that’s going to work for everyone. Everybody is different—not just your body, but your mind, your preferences, your personality, and on the list goes. So it follows that any weight-loss plan that gives you a rigid set of rules/parameters and commands you to follow them or fail is likely not going to work for everybody on it, regardless of how much you might want it to work for you.
You don’t need someone else to tell you who you are and what works best for you. You’ve lived with yourself all these years; you know yourself better than anyone. So your job is to change/modify those techniques that you find useful from any weight-loss plan you’ve chosen to follow so they meet your personal needs and give yourself permission to discard the rest (oh yes, you can!).
The only way you’ll stick with something (anything, I’d argue) long term, at least in my experience, is to tailor whatever you do in your life so it suits you best. My book, Start Where You Are Weight Loss, will show you just how to do that.
5. You refuse to change your mind and take the pressure off yourself.
You will always (always, always) live out what you believe. If you believe that weight loss is serious and hard work, that’s the experience you’ll have. If you believe that weight loss is suffering and being miserable and eating things you don’t like, that too is the experience you’ll have. If you believe that the stakes are high and the deadlines are looming and that you’re on a make-it-or-break-it collision course (maybe you have a wedding/reunion/event that you tell yourself you need to lose the weight for), you will jack up your stress level and you will live out that you have absolutely no choice but to do whatever it takes (regardless of the risk to your personal health and mental well-being) to reach your goal.
Here’s the thing: you get to choose what you believe; it’s your mind after all. Beliefs are just thoughts you’ve had over and over again. If you want to believe something different, something that actually makes your life easier, you can choose to do that whenever you want.
So do yourself a kindness and start believing that weight loss and weight maintenance can be easy, that you really can eat what you want, that your body will tell you everything you need to know (because all those things are true).
The other kindness you need to do for yourself is to start looking at your whole life as an experiment. Take the pressure off. Try a few things and see what works for you. Take away the deadlines and the stakes so that you can start enjoying your life again (which, I assure you, will not only make you happier but will also help you reach your goal(s) a lot more quickly).
6. You refuse to forgive yourself your mistakes (and so you manage your disappointment with food).
You’re human so you’re going to make mistakes. You’re also not alone. You are in fact in excellent company with the rest of us who make mistakes on a regular (daily, weekly, minute . . . sigh) basis. And that’s okay.
When you make a mistake, just learn what you can from it so you can try again from a wiser perspective, give yourself credit for the attempt(s) you made, don’t abuse food or any other substance/behavior in an attempt to numb/avoid your feelings, and forgive yourself.
Why does that matter? Because the only difference between people who succeed and people who fail is that the former group doesn’t let their mistakes derail them. And if you refuse to forgive yourself, you will forever haul around the memory and the pain of that mistake, which will derail you. And if you eat over your disappointment, you will compound your mistake and that will derail you too because: 1. you will likely feel guilty/ashamed afterward, and 2. whatever it is, food will not have fixed it.
So practice some self-compassion. Be kind, gentle, and patient with yourself as you learn and grow. You’ll get to where you most want to be. Yes, you will. Cut yourself some slack and enjoy the journey on the way there. The best way to enjoy the journey is to love yourself enough to give yourself unlimited tries and forgive yourself as many times as it takes. You have to forgive yourself over and over because that’s how you’ll find peace.
My weight-loss journey & how it can help you on yours
I got free. Your life can be that way too.
I made my own path because I needed to get myself out of the crazy-making behavior I was having around food. I needed no restrictions, no weighing and measuring food, no off-limit foods, no more judgment around food, no more judging my self-worth based on the scale, no more you’re-not-doing-it-the-way-we-say or you’re-not-doing-it-perfectly diet rules that were only fueling my constant thinking about and obsession with food. I needed to modify and change any weight-loss technique I found useful to suit my own personal needs.
Just imagine what you could be doing with your life, following your own dreams and reaching your own goals, cultivating your own passions, making both your inner and outer worlds a more blissful and peaceful place, if you weren’t running in circles on the diet-go-round.
I got that for my life. I want it for yours. My books will show you how.
Let 2020 be the year you make peace with your body and with food.
For more information, check out the Start Where You Are Weight Loss page.