Dieting is like learning to drive a car. You step on the gas one moment and hit the brakes the next — start, stop, start, stop. Even though you’re moving forward — and sometimes that’s questionable — the ride is jerky. The same is often true of diets.
Does this sound familiar? You announce you’re going on a diet. For the next few days, you starve yourself and complain bitterly that you’re reaching your wits’ end. A few days go by…you’re so proud of what you’ve accomplished that you reward yourself by cheating “one time.” Of course, one time leads to another and before you can say, “weak moment,” you’re back to your old ways. This principle often applies to modifying other habits* as well: enthusiasm one day — abandonment the next.
The point is that quick fixes aren’t as effective as lifestyle changes.
Why Do Diets Fail?
If your diet didn’t work last time, what makes you think it’ll work now? Before you step on the gas again, what did you learn from your last attempt? Here are six reasons why diets (and efforts to break other bad habits) fail:
Wishes are just words. Hope without effort is destined to fail. Spend less time thinking and talking and more time doing.
Don’t believe in fairytale solutions. Don’t search for quick-fix answers. A band-aid approach is often a short-lived solution.
Personal responsibility can’t be delegated. It can’t be done for you. It must be done by you. There’s no substitute for desire, hard work, and commitment.
Punishment is not a motivator. If you find yourself thinking, “I can’t wait till this is over,” you‘re heading down the wrong path. Don’t worry if you go off the bandwagon once in a while. One dessert won’t change mankind. But if you make the process fun (or at least bearable), you’ll return to your effort.
An immediate result isn’t a realistic aspiration. Be realistic in setting goals and committing to make change a reality. Be patient. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. View your effort as a lifestyle change rather than a temporary fix. If you enthusiastically push forward, it’ll become habit over time. The truth is, incremental progress leads to long-lasting results.
You can’t live an unhealthy lifestyle and expect a healthy outcome. Some people expect results without sacrifice. Wrong! If you don’t embrace change, don’t expect a different outcome.
Success Requires Commitment
There are three lessons that can be learned from diets that fail:
- When you make promises to yourself, keep them. If the effort is important to you, see it through to fruition. Or don’t do it at all.
- Determination is habit-forming; so is quitting. When you surrender to weaknesses, you’re letting yourself down. Every time you quit, you make it easier to tell yourself that quitting is acceptable. That’s detrimental to all your future efforts. Conversely, every time you show determination, you build inner strength to overcome other challenges that you’ll face in the future.
- Willpower is nothing more than desire. You have the power to achieve anything you want as long as you work hard and have the determination to succeed. Believe in yourself. Don’t outsource your responsibility or expect others to do the heavy lifting. You have to make it happen. Enjoy the process. Don’t view the effort as a chore. The truth is, although incremental progress won’t produce instant results, little steps cover a lot of ground over time. Give it a try. It takes many years to become an overnight success.
*Some issues may require professional counsel. It’s important to recognize those situations and seek professional support in those cases.
Are Diets for You?
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