Everyone fails and if you don’t fail, then you’re probably not human. Diet failures happen for many different reasons. Sometimes, it’s your fault, but other times, it could be the fault of the diet you chose.
Failures can be as short as messing up your eating plan for an hour or two. The failure might last for a day or a week or a month. Or maybe you’re someone who failed and you’ve been stuck on that path for years.
The good news is that none of that means your diet wishes are permanently gone. You can start again the very second you make the decision to change your life.
What’s Behind the Failure?
Whenever you fail at anything, including a diet, there is always an underlying reason. Once you figure out the reason, that’s when you can change it and find success.
There are some pretty common reasons why people experience diet failure. It usually starts because there’s no planning. Other than a desire to lose weight and you can picture your end goal, you don’t really have a map or plan on how you’re going to get from point A to B.
Another reason is because your short term goals aren’t reasonable. You’ve set the bar too high and can’t reach them – so when you fail in the beginning, it can cause discouragement.
This can make you more reluctant to get back on the diet. The first week is when most diets ultimately fail and nine times out of ten it’s because the short term goals are the culprit.
If you have an “everything and the kitchen sink” mentality toward dieting, then that can also set the stage for failure. This is what happens when you try to make too many changes all at one time, like thinking you’ll completely clean out the pantry and toss everything that you deem unhealthy for you.
Completely overhauling the way you eat all at once makes a diet unappealing. Maybe you’ve started your diet out with an eating plan that’s so strict, you haven’t budgeted anything in there that’s familiar.
So you’ve tossed all of the regular food and replaced it with an eating plan that’s too limited. Then, you decide that the only beverage you’ll consume is water. That you’ll workout every single day. For at least half an hour. No, wait. An hour.
Longer is better, right? When enthusiasm for your body to change overrides your ability to stick to it, your motivation goes down the drain. You can’t count on sheer force of will to keep you fired up enough to carry on with your diet when you’ve overwhelmed yourself with too many changes at the same time.
Signs You’re Headed Toward Diet Failure
There are warning signs with every diet that can tell you if it’s going to be successful or not. Instead of finding that you feel much better eating this new way, you discover that you feel a lot worse.
Your diet is too over the top with its limitations. You’ve cut your food choices down to items that are foreign to you as well as unappetizing. This level of strictness will cause you to quit pretty fast because no one wants to eat things they don’t like regardless of how well motivated you might be.
From the beginning of your diet and on, you’ve battled constant hunger. Diets are supposed to let you feel that hunger. It means it’s working right? Wrong. It’s a myth that far too many believe that any diet you undertake should leave you feeling hungry even right after you finish a meal.
The truth might shock you. A diet that’s healthy and based on your calorie needs should actually keep you feeling full throughout the day. Even a diet that’s portion controlled shouldn’t leave you feeling hungry.
If it does, then you’re eating the wrong things. Cravings that just don’t stop can be a sign that you’re heading toward diet failure. Most cravings for foods that aren’t healthy will end once your body adjusts to eating better.
But the biggest mistake that you can make is to try to keep plugging along with the cravings nipping at your heels. The desire for that particular food will only grow stronger on some diets because the body goes into a sense of deprivation.
Your mind thinks that the body will always be deprived of that food because the word diet is symbolic with doing without. Your diet needs to have a craving allowance built in.
You let yourself eat a controlled portion of the food that you like and you don’t assign any one food to never-again land. Have it and enjoy it, just be wise about it.
Another sign that you’re heading toward diet failure is if you’re someone who practices emotional eating. Dieting is not going to make those emotions feel better.
In fact, if you’re an emotional eater and you suddenly limit all the foods you used to self-comfort, you’re going to feel worse. For those who use food to deal with emotions, you must find a way to handle your feelings as you’re dieting.
This way, you’re not essentially starving the emotional component of yourself. When you treat the need behind emotional eating, you’ll find that your dieting motivation is stronger.
Having a lot of peer pressure is another sign you might be headed toward diet failure. These come at you from well meaning (though sometimes not) people who tell you go ahead and splurge – that you deserve it.
They tell you things like you look good just as you are, that you’re really fine overweight and as you to come celebrate by overeating with them. If you are someone who knows you give in to peer pressure in other ways, it could be easier for you to give in to diet peer pressure.
The Role of Shame in Dieting
You might be aware of this or you might not be. But the odds are high that you engage in diet shaming. And shaming isn’t something that can be successfully used to lose weight or keep it off.
Some common diet shaming things that you might have said to yourself include internal comments about your meals. “Oh, I was a total pig. I ate all the wrong stuff today.”
It might be about your physical appearance. “I hate to walk past others in a restaurant. Everyone is thinking about how fat I am.” Or maybe you’ve internalized shame about how your body looks to the point that you’re too uncomfortable to eat a meal in a restaurant.
Maybe you order the food to go and eat in your car. Saying unkind things when you eat and hiding out when you eat is shaming yourself. Some people get stuck in this rut, not realizing the damage that it does.
They don’t know that shaming keeps them stuck in diet failure. Shaming yourself isn’t self acceptance. It’s not loving who you are, failures and all. At its core, diet shaming is a sense of self-hatred for how you eat, what your body looks like and what you perceive as an inability to change anything.
This keeps you feeling powerless when the truth is that you do have the power to change. You’ve always had it, but maybe you just haven’t understood how to use that power.
When a failure happens, don’t blame yourself. You’re a human being. That means that you have flaws, you’ll make mistakes and that it is perfectly natural to do that.
You have to stop blaming and shaming yourself when a diet doesn’t work out. So you failed. Big deal. It doesn’t mean the world is going to end because this diet didn’t work out.
And it doesn’t matter if it was your first diet or your hundred and first diet. The shame is not yours to take on. When you allow shame to have a hold on your diet process, it will kick your butt every time you look in the mirror.
You’ll despise your image. You won’t want to do anything to make a change. You won’t love and accept yourself. Worst of all, when you give shame room within your diet failure, it always spreads.
It will transfer to other areas of your life.
Begin Again Without Shame
Whether you’ve failed once or hundreds of time, the blame is still not yours to carry. When you experience shame after a failed diet, check out what’s going on in your thought process and in your feelings.
If you do that, you’ll see that shame means that you feel unworthy or inferior. But that feeling doesn’t make it the truth. You feel the shame or the unworthiness or inferiority because you’ve been taught that there should be shame when you fail.
Failure should always be seen as an opportunity inviting you to try something different rather than the final say in any situation. The feelings of shame when it comes to diet failures are caused because you feel inferior to the standards that were placed on you by others such as people or businesses.
You’re taught that you’re inferior if you’re overweight and if you fail in your quest for the “perfect body” it means you’re unworthy and you’re flawed. It might surprise you to learn the reason that shame doesn’t belong to you is because you’re not the problem.
The diet is. Less than 10% of all diets work. Yet, they’re so popular. They’re popular because the sheer amount of people seeking to lose weight and the constant bombardment from the media about the perfect body has given rise to a dieting industry that makes billions of dollars every year.
Shaming is a tool that many of the diet businesses will use to try and get you to purchase what they’re selling. So you do. Then you feel shame when you don’t achieve the results you wanted.
Stop focusing on diet and instead focus your attention on healthy eating. Focus on giving your body the food that it deserves for a long and healthy life. Prepare meals that nurture your body.
Eat in a way that works for your body regardless of what others are doing. So how can you start again without shame? Don’t do the same things you’ve always done.
You’ll end up with the same result – feeling shamed when it doesn’t work out. Instead, choose a different method than what you’ve always done. If you tried hard with a strict diet and you exercised until you loathed that word, then don’t do that anymore.
Choose a diet that’s not strict. Pick actions that move your body to burn calories in a way that’s fun – in a way you look forward to. Put falling off the wagon into perspective.
It was a sign that something wasn’t working with your diet plan. Adjust whatever led to the fall. Fix it, change it, do something new. But if you can’t because it was just that you got sick of dieting that led to your failure, then mentally and emotionally wipe the slate clean.
Don’t allow yourself any internal name calling, no bringing up past mistakes. This is a brand new journey with no baggage.
Moving Forward Without Fear of Failure
When people fail at dieting, they tend to be wary. They struggle with the thought of getting back on the wagon – the very thing that they fell off of. The psychology behind the wariness is easily understood.
Risk is uncomfortable and often, it’s far more uncomfortable than the familiar feelings of shame. And people don’t like to be uncomfortable. Risk means leaving the comfort zone.
But you can move forward without fear of failure. Motivate yourself with plenty of successes right from the start. You can do that by creating a list with small, easily achieved steps on it.
Every day, write down five things that you can do that promote success. This might be something like eating a piece of fruit for a snack rather than the gooey cake you’d rather take instead.
As you check off each thing that you accomplish this way, you’ll feel more empowered. Realize that if you’ve experienced shame or body limitations because of your weight or health problems, then where you were can be a worse place than failure.
You deserve to love and accept yourself. You’re worthy of moving forward. Acknowledge each victory, regardless of how small you might think it is. A victory can be something like you took the stairs instead of the elevator.
You went for a walk at lunch time instead of hanging out in the break room. Give yourself grace. Being tempted isn’t a failure. Having to start over again isn’t a failure.
This means that negative self-talk is forbidden. You won’t speak to yourself unless it’s with love and kindness. You will say and think the things that edify you.
Give yourself patience. If you lose the weight more slowly than you like, that’s okay. There is no diet race. There is only healthy living and loving yourself. It doesn’t matter if someone else can lose weight faster.
They’re not you. They don’t have your circumstances. They don’t have your ups or downs. Recognize that failure is about perspective. It only means you experienced a temporary setback.
It’s a winding curve in the road that will loop you back to the beginning, but it’s not the end of the road. Keep your eyes on where you want to end up, not on the roadblocks that will sometimes slow you down. You will get around them. You will succeed.