You’ve no doubt experienced the pattern before. You start off with the best of intentions and manage to stick to a diet for a few days (or weeks). The weight starts dropping off and you’re feeling pretty awesome. But soon after, you start to loosen the restrictions, the bad habits start to creep back in and before you know it, you’re back to your old ways. Where did at all go wrong?
It’s not that surprising that as many as two-thirds of those who start a diet, end up heavier than when they started. People often will try anything that promises to help them lose weight. Companies and health & fitness “experts” that promote fad diets take advantage of this fact. They appeal to people by promising quick and easy weight loss and let’s face it — not many people are prepared to put in the effort to lose fat and improve their health by making long-term changes to their eating and exercise habits.
Many of us associate the word diet with short-term deprivation or restriction — something you go “on” and ultimately go “off”. Before working with us, most of our clients have dieted repeatedly, and while each attempt usually resulted in weight loss, it wasn’t feasible long-term which caused people to gain the weight back (plus more). So what is the solution? Address the reasons why your diet keeps failing! If you can understand why your dieting attempts have failed, you can learn from past mistakes and create a sustainable and healthy approach to nutrition that creates sustainable results.
The four main reasons most people fail when it comes to dieting are:
- They disregard energy balance (calories in vs calories out).
- They have unrealistic expectations.
- They follow unsustainable methods.
- They lack an understanding of nutrition.
Let’s take a closer look at these…
MISTAKE #1 – DISREGARDING ENERGY BALANCE
Just because you don’t keep track of the calories you are consuming, doesn’t mean your body doesn’t! Everyone has a calorie budget, whether you’re trying to maintain your weight, lose fat or gain muscle. Unfortunately, many people seem to ignore or disregard this simple fact. They think they are doing the right thing by only eating “clean” or by eating lots of “superfoods”, without realising that these all contain calories too (and lots of them). When you consume food, your body can do two things with the energy that it absorbs; burn it or store it. The calories are either “burned” or used by the body to keep us alive and moving, or if they aren’t burned, they are stored as chemical energy. And unfortunately, the primary storage method for the excess calories you consume is fat.
As you can imagine, this becomes fundamental when it comes to determining your body weight. To put it simply:
- If you eat more calories than you burn you will gain weight.
- If you burn more calories than you eat you will lose weight.
- If you eat the same amount of calories that you burn your weight will remain the same.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Find out your personal calorie budget to achieve your goals! If you want to lose fat, you must be consuming less calories than you are burning. What’s the best way to ensure you’re eating the right amount of calories each day? By tracking the calories you are consuming! Just eating “healthy” is essentially taking a stab in the dark, and remember a lot of healthy foods can be high in calories too that can put you over your budget! Tracking your intake not only ensures that you are in a calorie deficit, but also allows you to structure a balanced, sustainable diet which includes your favourite foods! It can help to prevent frustration when your results plateau as you’ll already know how much you are eating so you can just make a simple adjustment!
MISTAKE #2 – HAVING UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Be honest, do you start a new diet and then expect to see instant results? And what happens when you don’t get the results you were expecting? You get frustrated and give up. We get it, seeing quick results is key for staying motivated to remain on track, but it’s important to not to set yourself up for failure before you even begin by having ridiculous expectations!
From our experience as personal trainers and online coaches, we have realised that people are not aware of the effort or TIME it takes to change their body composition. In addition to this, they are often unrealistic about the goals they want to achieve (thanks to the media) and the time frame it takes to achieve these goals.
Fat loss isn’t easy. It’s a slow process that requires a lot of consistency and patience. There will be weeks that you lose weight, there will be weeks where your weight remains the same and there will be weeks where your weight goes up! It’s all part of the process!
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Before starting a fat loss journey, it is VERY important to set yourself some REALISTIC fat loss targets. These will depend on a lot of different things – how much fat you have to lose, the severity of your calorie deficit, how often you can train, your compliance, ect. Aiming to lose fat in a slow and steady manner instead of crash dieting will help you achieve your goals without sacrificing your lifestyle and will also help you maintain your results.
There are NO quick fixes if you desire long-term results! You must make permanent changes to your lifestyle and create healthy habits that align with your goals and become your new routine. The more enjoyable and sustainable these changes and habits are, the more likely you are to be successful in achieving your goals!
MISTAKE #3 – FOLLOWING UNSUSTAINABLE METHODS
When people start “dieting”, they immediately think that they must follow a strict diet that is purely made up of “clean” foods and eliminate all processed foods. They think that they need to cut out carbs completely, avoid desserts and sugar, avoid eating out and to stay away from alcohol. Most of us have tried some crazy all or nothing diet at some point in our lives!
However, experience has shown that restrictive diets which significantly reduce calories and eliminate food groups are not sustainable and often lead to binge eating, cheating, and yo-yo dieting. This in turn creates feelings of guilt, generates self-punishment and negative emotions, resulting in a very unhealthy relationship with food and body image.
Furthermore, restrictive diets that are extremely low in calories often don’t fuel the body with the amount of essential nutrients it needs to function optimally. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies which can be harmful to your health.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Stop making dieting harder than it needs to be! Follow an approach to nutrition that is enjoyable and sustainable for you! We are huge fans of flexible dieting because the focus is on reaching your personal calorie/macronutrient targets, with food selection left up to you! And we mean that — there are ZERO food restrictions. All the normal rules you find in a typical diet don’t exist (that’s right – carbs, sugar, processed foods, wheat, and dairy are all “allowed”). Basically, flexible dieting is completely personalised to you and your lifestyle.
As a result, flexible dieting helps to create a healthy relationship with food and essentially takes the worry out of dieting. There’s no ‘cheating’ or eating the ‘wrong’ foods. And because there is no guilt, there’s less stress and fewer urges to binge or get off track! The best thing about flexible dieting is that it is designed to fit around your lifestyle and preferences. You can eat out at a restaurant, or enjoy a food you have been craving without worrying about going off track, as long as the foods you eat fit within your daily macronutrient and goals. Without all the limitations and restrictions, you can create enjoyment and sustainability with your diet which in turn improves long term adherence and most importantly — helps you get results!
MISTAKE #4 – LACK OF EDUCATION
Many of our clients come to us after completing weight loss “challenges” or after blindly following a restrictive, rigid meal plan. They were successful in losing weight while on these programs but as soon as they ended, they had no idea what to do and as a result gained all of the weight back. We see it time and time again. Why? Because a lot of these programs don’t actually teach people anything about nutrition or why they are eating what they are eating.
As a result, they will often just go back to their ways of eating and end up exactly where they started, ready to start the next program or challenge and repeat the whole process again.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Instead of “just doing what you are told”, put some time into learning about nutrition, the nutritional content of food, and how your metabolism functions. By having even a basic understanding of these things, your compliance and long-term dieting success will improve dramatically because you know why you are doing what you are doing. Evidence-based education is a huge focus of our coaching and is what helps us stand apart from others. We are both pharmacists and certified personal trainers so we have put in many years educating ourselves and we want to share that knowledge with our clients! We have built a dedicated Learning Hub which is full of comprehensive, easy-to-digest learning modules about all things nutrition and how to set yourself up for dieting success. We really take the time to educate our clients and give them all the tools they need to get results and keep them! Knowledge is power!
Did any of these common issues sound familiar as to why your diet may have failed in the past?
Are you tired of dieting and not getting results?
Are you sick of eating the same boring foods day in and day out?
Do you hate having to cut out all of your favourite foods?
Do you have a constant urge to binge?
Do you feel guilty whenever you eat something that isn’t part of your “plan”?
Do you feel lost when it comes to eating out at restaurants or events?
You’ve come to the right place!
Our Find Your Balance Coaching Program provides you with everything you need to transition to flexible dieting and find YOUR balance while also achieving the results you want. We have helped hundreds of women to transform their bodies and the way they view food using this program. Whether you want to lose fat, build muscle, gain a healthier relationship with food, or simply just learn more about nutrition and how it affects your body – this program is for you. Click here to find out more and to get started!