So many of the weight loss clients I’ve worked with one-on-one in my New York City practice admit to being professional dieters. They’ve tried every weight loss plan, scheme, and promise under the sun and failed miserably over and over again. And 9 times out of 10, their attempts flop because of one–or some combination–of the four reasons I discuss below. That being said, awareness is key and if you know what mistakes to watch out for, you’re already a step ahead of the pack. Here’s what you need to know–and can do–to immediately boost your chance of long-term success.
Reason #1: You’re not fully committed.
I always tell clients at our first session together: Weight loss is at least 50 percent attitude. If you’re not truly ready to make a full-time commitment to losing weight, chances of long-term success are pretty slim. That’s because when efforts are half-hearted from the get-go, people typically lose interest in their diet soon after they start. The sad truth is, it’s not really worth starting a weight loss program if your head isn’t in the game.
How to Prevail:
My best advice is to do some serious soul-searching and identify a significant and enduring source of personal motivation for finally shedding the extra weight. Maybe it’s to better manage health conditions… or to be around for your kids and grandkids… or to finally feel more comfortable in your own skin and boost your energy level.
The bottom line is that this motivation has to come from within YOU. Then, strengthen your resolve and recharge your motivation every single day with positive self talk and daily or weekly goals. I think long term goals are terrific, but short term goals can be even more powerful because they reinforce success every step of the way.
Reason #2: You expect miracles.
Individuals who launch a new diet with unreasonable expectations regarding how much weight they’re going to lose each week–or who have an unrealistic goal weight in mind–are signing themselves up for trouble. If you can’t match your desired pace of weight loss, you’ll more than likely end up terribly disappointed and quickly jump ship.
How to Prevail:
Though you’ll probably see a dramatic drop on the scale during the first few weeks on a new diet, most people eventually average out at a loss of one to three pounds per week for the duration of their plan. And if they do shed pounds more quickly than that–say, by fasting for long stretches of time–they’re more likely to gain the weight back… and then some.
I know television shows and infomercial success stories lead you to believe that you can melt off fat in a matter of weeks, but the truth is, successful weight loss is a slow and steady process. If you can accept this fact and buckle down for the long haul, you will ultimately be handsomely rewarded with better health, a smashing figure, and newfound confidence.
Reason #3: Your plan isn’t sustainable.
If you’re following an extreme weight loss plan that doesn’t even slightly resemble “normal” eating, there’s a good chance your efforts won’t last. And, in my opinion, subsisting entirely on shakes, smoothies, cookies, or tonics isn’t normal eating. When you view a diet as a short-term deviation from your typical eating habits, rather than a long-term lifestyle change, you will almost certainly have a hard time maintaining your weight loss.
How to Prevail:
A diet should be based on appropriate amounts of healthy foods that keep you feeling satisfied and energized–not cranky and deprived. Most importantly, a diet should be viewed as a launching pad for a long-term lifestyle change. That’s because to lose weight and keep it off forever, you really will have to permanently change your eating habits. With that in mind, it’s important to choose an eating plan that you can easily transition into lifetime maintenance.
And while I can appreciate how provocative some of these quick-fix, restrictive diet plans can be, they truly are a set-up for failure and yo-yo dieting. Without fail, every restrictive plan has a calorific binge waiting right around the corner. Not the way to go for long term success. Instead, a food plan you can stick with for life is key.
Reason #4: You can’t forgive your slip-ups.
This is an incredibly common diet pitfall. When people inevitably give into temptation and subsequently “fall of the wagon” for one meal or one day, they tell themselves they’ve blown their diet and throw in the towel for good. To be successful, you have to learn to overcome these temporary setbacks. You can’t let one binge or one “off day” turn into a full week, or month, of splurging. Unfortunately, it can be incredibly difficult for some individuals to break this cycle of negative thinking.
How to Prevail:
Don’t dwell on your mistakes. Instead, shake it off and get right back on track at your very next meal… or the very next day. And always remember, nobody gains weight from one rich dinner or a single slice of cake. The real trouble starts when you allow that one “splurge” to snowball into an all-out eating frenzy. Take it one meal at a time and learn to forgive yourself; every dieter has slip-ups, but the successful ones know how to keep those occasional lapses contained.
Written by Joy Bauer, author of Slim & Scrumptious and recognized authority on nutrition.
Originally posted on “Joy’s Healthy Bite” feature at Yahoo Health.