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Why Diets Fail (And How You Can Succeed)

By Tory Reiss / May 29, 2014

why-diets-fail

I struggled with my weight from the time I was 10 years old until I was 22, reaching an all time high of over 330 pounds by the time I was 18 years old. As a child it was tough. I was bullied, picked on, called names, and ridiculed. By age 18 I was diagnosed with Type 2 adult onset diabetes due to my sedentary lifestyle and obesity. The road was long and riddled with forks and wrong turns but I persevered to lose over 100 pounds, build muscle, and change my life – and cured myself of diabetes in the process.

This 2702 word post is a culmination of my experience and struggle discovering why diets fail, and how I overcame those obstacles. By the end of this article you’ll learn to:

  • Pinpoint the exact reasons why weight loss seems impossible in today’s society.
  • Be honest with yourself about why you’ve failed in the past.
  • Devise a bulletproof plan to reach your weight goals.
  • Seek out support systems that make fitness goals achievable.
  • Deliver on promises to yourself and discover why weight issues are not your fault.
  • Become your own inspiration and an inspiration to others.

Let’s dig in and learn why diets fail, and learn how you can become a success.

Reason #1: Diets deprive us.

Have you ever tried starting a diet? The beginning is exciting. You feel motivated. You’re ready for change. You might stick with the diet for awhile. You might sign up for a gym membership or buy a copy of P90X. You stick with it for awhile and lose a few pounds, then suddenly…

BAM!

Out of nowhere your back to your old lifestyle, the same lifestyle that got you into this mess in the first place. But why?

One of the major reasons we give up or lose sight of success is because we feel deprived. We feel like we are giving up so much of, “the finer things in life” for this diet, and nobody around you is helping. You might find yourself walking around the grocery store to pick up some healthy dinners when randomly your eye catches someone’s cart who is stocked up on chips, candy, soda, pizza, and chicken fingers. You stop and think, “Man! All my favorite foods..”

You look down at your basket and get depressed at the spinach and broccoli staring back at you and you catch yourself thinking, “Gee – Why does dieting have to be so hard..”

The problem here is this: We like our freedom. We like choices. When that freedom is suddenly gone, we feel imprisoned. We feel like we are being punished. We feel deprived when this liberty, this right is suddenly stolen from us.

You tangle with the emotions in your head for awhile. Eventually, you start a civil war in your own head. Before long you create a revolution and convince yourself how much you hate that feeling and want to break free.

So you do. You break away from healthy choices, allowing yourself again to eat the things that once felt comfortable. Before you know it, everything you worked for so far is lost and your right back where you were started.

I want to teach you an important tip: You must learn to reengineer your mindset. Easier said than done, right? If it was that simple, everyone would be doing it!

The truth is – It’s simpler than you think.

Think about it like this: Instead of convincing yourself that you’re deprived and imprisoned, realize you have the freedom to be healthy and that having health is true freedom.

Convince yourself of this fact enough and eventually you’ll realize you’re not actually depriving yourself at all.

Your enabling yourself to embrace a healthy life – a choice, a freedom you never even knew you had.

Do this for me. Can you picture you picture yourself in your new body? Confident, capable of conquering the world, participating in new activities, less conscious of your flaws, and doing things you never thought you could? Sounds pretty good right?

After reading this post and committing to the plan, you won’t even want those things that you once thought you were being deprived of. You’ll slowly begin to catch yourself looking at unhealthy choices as the enemy of your personal development. The choices will happen naturally.

Temptations will become easier to rise above. You won’t even have to think twice about a healthy choice. It will become part of your daily life (you’ll learn more about this later on).

This is when you know you’ve truly broken free.

Accomplish this, and you’ll know you’ve reached the next level.

Reason #2: Diets are temporary.

Every other wise guy in the fitness industry is trying to dig into your wallet for a revolutionary new program, system, or pill that is backed by some extremely well marketed sketchy science that is chock full of fine print that actually states “results not typical”.

You know what I’m talking about – I’m willing to bet you’ve seen a news article or special on TV that tries to convince you that if you get XYZ product – you’ll lose 10 pounds overnight, 20 pounds in a week, or 100 pounds in eight weeks.

For those reasons alone we convince ourselves to go spend crazy amounts of money on a promise packed weight loss fad. Fads like acai berry, HCG drops, green coffee bean extract, or some hollywood diet that sounds too good to be true. Like most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is. These products may offer some health benefits and I won’t argue that, but they are not magic bullets that will give you lasting results.

Here’s a secret: There is no quick fix solution in the world will allow you to continue leading a poor nutritional lifestyle and achieve tangible lasting results.

Let’s take a real life scenario for example. Let’s say we have a wedding coming up or maybe a trip to the beach and it’s on the calendar. We know these things are coming up, right?. You might tell yourself, “I have plenty of time to lose twenty pounds by then!”

Time starts dwindling by. The event gets closer and closer until you realize, “Oh crap! I only have two more weeks! I need to lose this weight NOW!”

It’s a fact of life as a human being. Sometimes we are procrastinators and we hate waiting for results. We love a quick fix. These are the times in our lives that we are most likely to turn to one of those “fix it quick” Band-Aid solutions. We try a product or program for awhile and we may even convince ourselves the product or diet is actually working – a placebo effect. Or, it does work and we do see some results but continuing to incorporate the program in your life is so unmanageable or expensive that we just give up.

The diet is temporary and so are the results.

Maybe you managed to lose a couple pounds for that trip or wedding we talked about. What about what happens after that? Most likely we will probably gain the weight back that we lost while on our honeymoon or vacation and end up back at square one.

The tough love truth here is that the word dieting in its conventional context should disappear from your vocabulary completely. Instead, we are going to replace it with another word: Lifestyle.

I like to teach people to enhance their lifestyle and not to go on a short term diet. Believe it or not 90% or more of achieving your goals is not going to come from exercise (Weird, right?)

It will instead come from your dietary lifestyle.

Instead of focusing on what goes in their bodies I often hear people focusing on the wrong things. Some folks will convince themselves that they don’t have time for the gym or working out. Those same people will use that excuse as a crutch, a scapegoat for why they haven’t been successful yet.

Tip: Exercise is only a very small portion (less than 10%) of the overall equation for weight loss and fitness success! Nutrition is always number one and represents the other 90%.

A good way to get started is to begin educating yourself about positive nutritional choices.

When people ask me why I was able to lose over 100 pounds my first response is almost always, “Being educated.”

I’ll admit it – when I first started down the road to a healthy lifestyle I was downright ignorant about food.

I actually starved myself with lettuce and water to lose my first twenty pounds and that is now one of my biggest regrets and let me tell you why.

It was extremely unhealthy. I got sick, very sick. I didn’t even supplement with a multivitamin and I completely deprived my body of nourishment. I was a danger myself and to others because there were times I got so dizzy from low blood sugar that I would almost pass out during daily activity.

Can you imagine if that would have happened while I was driving?

Not only that, but my metabolism completely shut down, I lost a lot of muscle, and when I started eating again I regained almost all of the weight I had lost. It definitely wasn’t worth it.

So now you might be saying to yourself, “Ok Tim – I get it! Where do I start?”

I have a lot to teach you – but for now I’d like you to learn about what whole foods are and why they are awesome. Keep an eye on your email and you’ll get lots of cool whole foods info, recipes, and more.

With knowledge comes power.

Quickly while we are here – I want to take this opportunity to turn you on to the Paleo lifestyle.

Have you heard of it???

The Paleo lifestyle is a really neat nutritional concept. It teaches us to model our nutrition after our ancestors and that the modern day overconsumption of carbohydrates is unnatural for the human body. Modern agriculture resulting in the mass production of corn, grains, and processed food has had a detrimental effect on first world eating habits. Our bodies by design were never meant to eat this way! Overconsumption of refined carbohydrates has had a direct impact on obesity and related illness such as diabetes and heart disease.

(How many of our ancestors did you see eating like this?)

I will make frequent references to the Paleo diet. It will serve as a foundation throughout my lessons on nutrition. This is not because I’m on a paleo diet bandwagon, far from it actually.

There’s a much better reason than that.

The reason is that most, if not all of the food that the diet suggests are whole foods. It represents a framework for the exact foods that I identify with as contributing to my own success. Don’t take my word for it though – read this excerpt from biochemist Robb Wolf, one of the leading experts in Paleolithic nutrition.

“The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility. – Robb Wolf

For now, let’s move on and learn more about reasons why diets fail.

Reason #3: Slipping up on difficult days.

You and I both know life tends to throw a lot of curveballs. It’s full of stress, difficult decisions, and other challenges that often make healthy decisions take a backseat in our daily lives.

Here is a common real world example.

It’s finally Friday and your coworkers invite you out for a few drinks. It’s time to unwind! Three drinks turn into five. Your friends call you up to hang out so you hop bars and have a few more.

Before you know you stop by to grab some fast food or pizza at the end of the night to in hopes of maybe soaking up the alcohol you drank. In one night you consume more calories than you had all week and the next day you probably don’t feel like doing much, and making it to the gym definitely isn’t on your list of recovery day pleasures.

By the end of the weekend you convince yourself that you already wasted most of the weekend so you might as well have a few more comfort meals. By the middle of the week, you totally forgot you were even supposed to be being conscious of what you’re eating.

Here’s another common example. You have children. You love your kids, but they’ve been driving you a little batty all week long and to top it off you have to drive half way across the state to see some relatives for a family get together.

Road trip!

You stop at the gas station to get some snacks. It’s a long drive – this is a great opportunity to fill up a cool refreshing 44 oz. cup with your favorite soda to wash down your combos and chips you picked out for road snacks. If nothing else it will keep your mind off the kids fighting in the back seat, right? When you arrive, your family has a nice cooler of beer waiting for you and all of your uncles are huddled around the game and the grill swapping stories over a bed of hot dogs, brats, and burgers. There’s only one choice left. Let the kids run off and play while you enjoy some adult beverages and delicious food.

These are just a couple examples of times when life just gets in the way. In a perfect world, all of your uncles would be sipping protein shakes and have a grill full of chicken breast and vegetables. In another flip flop universe work would always easy and your coworkers and friends would invite you to the gym for a happy hour workout instead of drinks.

Fact is, life in the 21st century is almost perfectly designed to set you up for failure and it’s not your fault.

You didn’t set up these social norms. You enjoy them – but why should you have to suffer the consequences of them?

I have some good news for you.

You don’t have to, and you’re not alone.

I want to let you in on a little secret that me and millions of other people in the world have seemingly been keeping quiet all this time. You are your own person and change starts within you.

Increase your awareness. Be vigilant about healthy choices during these difficult and tempting times. If you choose to indulge, do so in moderation. Anticipate the outcomes and plan accordingly if it means preparing a healthy snack of an alternative meal.

With the proper amount of focus and a concrete conviction to live a healthier life – you can change the norm and become a contagious inspiration for change.

Reason #4: Lack of support.

Often times the people in our life and that we spend most of our time with just plain aren’t very supportive in our efforts to get healthy. Our friends, spouses, significant others have all been guilty.

It’s not their fault – everyone has different priorities and a lot of people just don’t understand.

It makes it extremely difficult to put together healthy dinner plans or get involved in some healthy physical activities if nobody else wants to participate or even worse, puts you down for trying to change.

A very wide range of emotions comes into play when you, or even someone close to you, gets serious about healthy living. I’ve seen it time and time again not only in my life but in other people’s lives too. A friend or a loved one can easily become jealous or spiteful of your determination or success. They might feel left out of your plans and activities. They might even suggest that your healthy pursuits are actually unhealthy.

Humans are very adverse to change.

Conclusion

While there are undoubtedly other reasons why diets fail, I want to leave you with this advice: It’s ultimately up to you and you alone to decide and commit to healthy changes in your lifestyle. Constantly remind yourself why you want to change, how you will achieve your goals, and what you need to do RIGHT NOW in order to achieve the success you desire.

Now is the time to make a change. Don’t start next week. Dont start tomorrow.

Start today.

About the author

Tory Reiss

Hi! I'm Tory Reiss. I built this blog to share my fitness quest and provide informative reviews of fitness equipment, gadgets, and supplements that you can use to help reach your health goals. Hope you enjoy it!