If you or someone you know plans to start a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, please read this post and make a vow to try a different approach to weight loss in 2020.
Some reports indicate that over 90% of dieters fail at keeping the weight off. Let’s put some perspective on this number. No one would ever consider flying on an airline that had 90% of its planes crash every day. The airline company would obviously go out of business in no time, and as crazy as this example might sound, this is exactly what millions of people do every year when it comes to dieting.
Let’s examine 6 of the top reasons most diets fail:
1) You have the wrong mindset before you even begin. Diets by their very nature represent a short-term solution to a long-term challenge. Weight loss goals are often undertaken to reach a short-term objective, such as starting a New Year’s Resolution, looking good in your wedding dress, getting in better shape for a class reunion, vacation, or swimsuit season. You see these goals as a finish line for the change in your eating habits, and once the goal has been met you eventually revert back to the same unhealthy eating habits that led you to needing to lose the weight in the first place. As human beings we need to eat for the rest of our lives, not just over the next 2 months to lose fifteen pounds. Change your mindset on dieting before you attempt to change your eating habits.
2) You fail to learn the basics of healthy nutrition. Many diets tell you how to do only one thing – eat the foods that the diet instructs you to eat. Do this long enough and you’ll lose weight. Maintaining your ideal body weight for the rest of your life in a healthy way will require more than this one behavior. It will require you learn and apply some foundational healthy eating habits.
These foundational habits are nothing new, and include avoiding processed foods as much as possible, limiting your sugar and sodium intake, consuming most of your calories from single ingredient, whole foods and lean protein sources, eating 4-5 smaller meals throughout the day, instead of 2-3 larger meals, eating a healthy breakfast every day, and drinking at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day.
If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation, which means 1-2 drinks, no more than 2-3 times a week. These are all foundational and fundamental principles for healthy nutrition. In over 30 years as a personal trainer and working in the fitness industry, I have yet to find a better way to maintain a healthy body weight
3) Diets are too restrictive. Many diets require you to eliminate or severely restrict healthy food choices. Diets like these already set you up for failure because they’re not realistic to adhere to for a long enough time to achieve your goals. You’re more likely to stray from the diet, and there’s a greater chance you’ll have binging episodes. Think about it this way. Most people who need to lose weight – especially significant amounts of weight – got this way from a lack of discipline with their eating habits over a long period of time. This same group of people is now being asked to not only drastically alter their eating habits, but they’re being limited in their options of healthy food choices, thus making a new diet even more difficult to follow. The more variety you have with incorporating healthy food choices, the more satisfied you’ll feel while on the plan, and you’ll be less likely to succumb to the boredom and monotony that causes most people to give up before reaching their weight loss goal.
4) The diet itself is hurts your progress more than helps you. Diets that are too restrictive in calories and vital nutrients often provide a false sense of accomplishment. This scenario typically plays out with the dieter quickly shedding a few pounds. You see the numbers on the scale go down and feel good because you’re accomplishing your goal. However much of the weight loss is from water and lean body mass.
Losing lean body mass causes your basal metabolic rate (BMR) to slow down. Your BMR is the amount of energy your body needs to function while at rest. Lowering your BMR, or metabolism, means your body is now burning fewer calories throughout the day, which makes it harder for you to continue losing weight. This downward spiral causes the dieter to restrict calories even more in order to continue losing weight. The more restrictive the diet, the more likely the dieter will slow down their metabolism. All weight loss is not equal. Your goal on any weight loss plan should always be to retain as much lean mass (muscle) as possible.
5) You don’t exercise on a consistent basis each week. Maintaining a consistent exercise routine is one of the most important things you can do to increase your metabolism and lean body mass. The more lean body mass you carry on your frame, the higher your BMR. Most experts recommend exercising 3-5 times a week, for at least one hour per session. Despite the importance exercise plays in reaching your weight loss goals, and maintaining a healthy body weight, the 23 hours a day outside the gym are still more important than the hour spent in the gym. That said, there’s no more powerful combination to losing weight than consistent exercise combined with healthy nutrition. For example, let’s say you exercise on average 3.5 times a week, and burn 300 calories on average per workout. This equals 1,050 calories burned in a week just from exercising. Remember that your metabolism is also being boosted each time you exercise, which results in more calories being burned post-workout. However, for this example we’ll stick just to the 1,050 in calories you expended during your workout for the week. There are 52 weeks in a year, but let’s take out 4 weeks that you don’t exercise at all due to travel, illness, vacations, etc. 48 weeks x 1,050 calories burned per week = 50,400 calories burned during over the course of an entire year. A pound has 3,500 calories, so this equates to over 14 pounds a year in calories burned from exercising an average of 3.5 days a week for 48 weeks! Keep in mind that 300 calories is a very attainable goal, with many people exercising at intensity levels that routinely burn 2-3 times this number of calories over the same duration.
6) You’re impatient. We live in a world where we’ve become accustomed to having everything we want when we want it. 24-hour a day online shopping, gaming, instant access to news, information, movies and entertainment anytime we want, buying things on credit now and paying for them later. We’ve become accustomed to obtaining things quickly and easily thanks to all the modern-day conveniences at our disposal.
However, losing weight and keeping it off for life doesn’t work the way. Marketers know people want a quick fix and they prey upon our impatience when it comes to losing weight and looking better. This is why the diet and weight loss industry will exceed $72 billion dollars in sales in 2019! The good news is that you can still make tremendous progress very quickly.
For example, let’s say you graduated high school at the age of 18, and now you’re 45 years old and 50 pounds heavier than you were when you graduated high school. Despite the fact that it took you 27 years to gain 50 pounds, you can safely and effectively lose these 50 pounds in less than one year! Yes, this will require a great deal of work and effort on your part, and it’s not something you can do in one week or one month, but it is doable in just 8-9 months, which is pretty incredible when you think of it in these terms.
Finally, it’s always recommended to check with your physician before starting an exercise program or diet. You’ll want to obtain medical clearance because there are many health conditions that could potentially impact the types of foods you can eat and exercises you can safely perform.
It’s often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Try a different approach to weight loss in 2020. Make this the year of permanent change and devote your 2021 New Year’s Resolution to something else, because you won’t need it to lose weight.