Why your diet isn't working
It’s mid-February – surely the January, ‘New Year, New Me’ gym goers have faded out by now.
They will have come up with excuses by now as to why they are destined to be fat forever and nothing ever works for them. Let’s face it, eating healthy is too expensive, they’re too busy to go to the gym, they have a slow metabolism, exercise is hard, no time to meal prep or cook, losing weight makes people boring – who wants to be boring, they always gain the weight back anyway, oh and it’s their genetics – that’s it!! Yeah? No. Just no.
Can you tell I’m gonna rant in this blog?? Get ready.
Okay, let’s bring it back to peoples’ New Year Resolutions when it comes to fat loss and the gym. I admire these people who want to change, I honestly do. Well, those who stay committed anyway.
Sometimes all we need is a fresh start, whether that’s those who start on a Monday, a new month or a new year, it’s the same logic – and if that’s the kick start you need then perfect – but you must have a plan in place and be consistent. Don’t fall under the cliché of January gym goers who quit after a month or two. Don’t be that person.
I just hope you haven’t wasted any money on any diet products to cause insult to injury! Juice Plus, Clean 9, Forever Living to name a few!
I have heard so many times that people will ‘just use it as a kick start, then they’ll follow the healthy approach’. What?! Just say that aloud to yourself. Your kick start SHOULD BE the healthy approach. Eat more real food, more protein sources, fibre-rich foods, foods that will keep you feeling full and not craving crap. Eat less junk food, less takeaways, move more, drink more water, get more sleep, find ways to de-stress.
I’ve just listed plenty of things you can work on implementing one by one and I am 100% sure you will feel the benefit from doing so. You’ll have more energy, improve your mood, look better, you will WANT to continue eating well and exercising just for that feeling you get. Stop using the number on the scales to determine your mood, your happiness, your success.
I am going to be fairly blunt in this piece so if something I say makes you get all defensive then great! I’ve triggered something within you. You might actually learn something so don’t bite straight away ;)
I used the word ‘diet’ in the title of this blog, and what I am referring to is basically your strategy for losing weight – but that won’t catch peoples’ attention will it.
“Why your strategy for losing weight isn’t working”. Nope! Didn’t think so.
People want a quick fix, they want an answer, a magic solution, a pill, something/someone to blame! What they don’t like hearing is the truth. Which is why some people won’t like this blog.
Losing weight is extremely simple in most cases. Burn more calories than you are consuming. Simple. The hard part is implementing that and staying consistent!
This leads me on to this next part, which I will later elaborate on:
Common Mistakes People Make When Trying to Lose Weight
- You don’t know your ‘why’, your real reason for losing weight – your motivation
- You’re not consistent
- Your expectations vs. reality are very different
- You are resistant to change or trying something new
- You aren’t tracking your food properly – lack of understanding
- You don’t get enough sleep
- You’re stressed
- You don’t eat enough
- You think you’re more active than you are
- You don’t allow yourself to have bad days – you have no self-compassion
- You focus too much on outcomes over your behaviours
- You are ‘too busy’
- You aren’t getting to the root of the problem
- You are too scared to break away from the crowd
- You don’t enjoy your food
Do any of the above ring true for you?
Let me elaborate a little more on each and how you can use it to help you reach your desired goals.
1. You don’t know your ‘why’
Imagine yourself in the future after reaching the goal you picture in your head. That’s your end goal, your motivation for putting in the hard work. That might simply be a holiday where you want to be confident in a bikini or on the beach, it might be seeing your son/daughter walk down the aisle, it might be seeing yourself walk down the aisle, happy in your skin.
Know exactly what your end goal is, what you’re working towards, and now imagine how you will look. Now imagine how you will FEEL! That feeling is what should motivate you to keep pushing towards that goal. Confidence. That’s what we all want. With that comes looking good. And to get there, you must have the ability to handle whatever life throws at you and be willing to try new things. Be brave. Imagine what you might accomplish if you’re willing to try something that seems scary or uncomfortable to you right now.
2. You’re not consistent
You will have heard all the common nutrition advice before – which isn’t cool or a fad diet, hence why it’s not as popular, but it works. You know deep down what it takes to lose weight. I said it before, it’s generally very simple. What’s not so simple is staying consistent. Eating well most of the time, not giving up if you fall off track, thinking of the end goal, putting in the effort even on the days you really don’t feel like it, not making excuses. Slowly chipping away day after day, knowing that the results will come.
Focus on one thing at a time until it becomes routine, until it’s normal to you, then add something else to work towards. This sounds simple, which it is, but ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’ are two very different things. You can know it all but if you don’t put in the work you’re just like everyone else who makes excuses.
Perseverance will get you there – consistency will keep you there.
3. Your Expectations vs. Reality are very different.
You might expect to lose 2lbs per week for 10 weeks for example, following a specific plan you have set out. Maybe you achieve this for the first few weeks and things are great. But what happens when life gets in the way and throws you off track a little. You can’t stick to your plan 100% so you give up instead of modifying things. You’re back to square one.
Another example is following something that worked for someone else – yet when you follow it exactly, it doesn’t work for you… Reality check – we are all different.
Maybe you try the all-or-nothing approach and cut out ALL junk food. You do great for a while, but again, reality kicks in and you would kill the next person you see with chocolate just to get at it.
You crack, binge eat on junk food, feel disgusting and decide to start the next day again. Until it happens again. Sound familiar?
ALLOW YOURSELF A LITTLE FREEDOM.
I encourage my clients to give themselves a bit of freedom when they need it with their diet. If they fancy chocolate, they can have it. To an extent. It is still a controlled amount they are having, but they often don’t even need it. When we tell ourselves we can’t have something, the first thing we do is crave it.
“Don’t push the red button springs to mind”
4. You are resistant to change
“If you keep doing what you’ve always been doing, you’ll keep getting the results you’ve always been getting”
That’s all I am going to say on that one.
5. You aren’t tracking your food properly.
There are different ways of tracking your food. It doesn’t have to be weighing every last gram that you eat, however, we do have to be aware of what we are eating on a daily basis in order to see what has to change.
Some people forget to jot things down if they are just tracking in a notebook or on their phone. Some people don’t put the correct quantities into their tracker on their phone, and some people just don’t track at all. You can’t figure out what must change if you aren’t aware of what you are consuming in the first place.
Getting used to writing down what you are eating is the first step. The general volume of food might shock you.
Then, I would recommend using an app such as MyFitnessPal to check what’s in the common foods you are eating. Learn more about the composition of food. What foods are high in carbs, fats, protein? Maybe the foods you eat contain more calories than you thought.
The next step would be to start tracking roughly in an app, again, MyFitnessPal is a good option. Figure out how many calories you are eating on average per day/week and if you aren’t losing any weight then you know what you must do – slightly reduce this and check in the next week etc. Consistency and honesty are key here.
6. You don’t get enough sleep.
You procrastinate at night, you watch series upon series on Netflix before bed and before you know it, you’ve to be up for work in 5 hours.
Lack of sleep increases your cortisol levels, which is your stress hormone. As well as this it messes with your hunger hormones which often leads people to eat more the next day after a poor sleep.
There are plenty of things you can do to help this. Of course, number one is setting yourself a set time to make sure you are in bed by. The lead up to this would ideally not include any TV, laptops, phones etc., and instead involve some form of relaxing activity that will also help to de-stress you. A hot bath, some stretching, meditation or reading are all good examples.
Of course, these are all easier said than done so I would say start by turning on ‘night mode’ on your phones (iPhones anyway) and build from there. Let’s be realistic remember ;)
7. You’re stressed
As above, this is linked with poor sleep. We need some stressors in our life and exercise, our jobs etc. are examples of that. It’s usually how we handle stress that’s most important.
Our bodies react to stress and prepare us to run or flight by releasing certain hormones such as adrenalin, cortisol and insulin. We cannot distinguish between chronic stress and serious life threatening situations therefore we deal with them both in the same way.
Our day to day stressful situations are classed as chronic stress and can also trigger this fight or flight response. High cortisol levels are associated with increased appetite as well as fat deposits – which are usually around the abdomen area.
Finding ways that suit us to de-stress from these situations are very important to prevent a constant increase in our stress hormones.
Similar to the activities that help improve sleep; the same activities can be used for helping us to de-stress.
8. You don’t eat enough
This is very common in females especially. Eating too little and exercising too much, eventually hitting a plateau where you can’t lose any more weight, but you physically can’t eat any less or train any more = a sure sign you are under eating. This can have serious effects on our bodies, as serious as females losing their menstrual cycle completely.
You must ‘reverse diet’ in this case, which means slowly and gradually increasing your calories. Yes, it sounds scary to most women, but your health should come first.
Ideally you should be losing weight whilst eating as many calories as possible, hence why it’s important to gradually reduce calories when dieting rather than jumping straight to a very low calorie diet. Yo-yo dieting at its best.
"A little of what you want and a lot of what you need".
9. You think you’re more active than you are.
This can be another reason why you aren’t dropping those lbs., even though you think you should be. You overestimate how active you are. Often people think because they train hard in the gym and do 6-7 sessions a week that they are super active. Yet, they spend 8-9 hours of their day sitting at a desk in their office job, being very inactive.
Overall – their total calorie expenditure isn’t going to be that high in comparison to someone who is on the go all day and only manages to get to the gym 2-3 times per week. Think about it. There’s 24 hours in a day, how active are you, really, over the course of the day? This is what you must think about when planning your diet/nutrition.
10. You don’t allow yourself to have bad days – you have no self-compassion
This has fallen under one of the other points I’ve made already but it’s important to recognise this. You will have bad days! That’s life. It’s how we react to those bad days that dictates our progress and success.
You can choose to give up and quit, or you can choose to acknowledge it, deal with it and move on.
11. You focus too much on outcomes over your behaviours
You can only control what you do daily. You can’t control the exact outcome. For example, you can follow a plan to lose weight, stick to it, and yet if the scales don’t show what you want them to you aren’t happy. What do you do? Re-assess and continue. Control what you are capable of.
What you are eating, drinking, how you’re moving and exercising daily etc. You must stay consistent with the process, with your choices and the rest will fall into place. Keep focus on what the next steps are, on moving forward. Don’t focus on stepping on the scales every day hoping for a change.
Make good choices daily, enjoy the process and try checking your progress less; instead of every day, start by weighing yourself once per week, if even.
Ideally you want to focus on your weight, measurements and pictures on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. Once you see the results are coming, it will keep you motivated to keep doing what you are doing and trust the process – your behaviours.
12. You are too busy
We are all busy. Often the most successful people in weight loss are the busiest, with the most to juggle. Leave that excuse at the door please.
13. You aren’t getting to the root of the problem
It’s easy to just scrape the surface and lose a few lbs. along the way – however, the only way you will truly change is if you dig a little deeper into your relationship with food.
Are you rewarding yourself with losing weight by eating food for example? Why? You are not a dog – find a non-food related way to reward yourself.
Okay that’s a bit mean, but honestly, if you find you are using emotional eating as a coping mechanism for certain situations, you must get to the bottom of the problem.
There are certain situations in which people tend to comfort eat which are based on emotions rather than hunger.
Stress, Anger, Fear, Childhood Habits, Boredom or Feelings of Emptiness and Social Influences are all very common factors that lead people to comfort eat and this won’t go away by simply ignoring it.
You must get to the root of this problem before worrying about why you’re not losing weight.
14. You are too scared to break away from the crowd
Plenty of people are in the same situation as you. They are overweight, want to lose weight, but don’t want the uncomfortable feeling that comes with taking that initial step.
It’s much easier to be overweight when you are surrounded by people in the same boat as you. You get comfortable. If they’re not taking the step to change, then you don’t have to either.
However, if you are unhappy in your skin, breathless from walking up a flight of stairs, sad that you aren’t fit enough to play games with your kids, fed up of eating junk food and feeling crap as a result – then it’s time for YOU to be that person that no one else want to be. YOU must take that initial step to change.
It’s never easy, but you will be so glad that you did it!
“Get comfortable being uncomfortable”.
I assure you, it’ll only be a matter of time until they join you.
15. You don’t enjoy your food
Lots of people eat mindlessly. They pack in calories without even tasting the food they are eating. Learn to appreciate the food you are eating and be more mindful.
You will slow down as a result, be more conscious and generally choose better food choices. That doesn’t mean you can never have a slice of cake again, but when you do have treats like that, you will enjoy them even more!
So, there you have it – why your diet isn’t working!
It wasn’t as much of a rant as I thought it would end up, I’m nice really!
I hope you get where I am coming from and realise that weight loss isn’t as hard as people make it out to be. You don’t need any magic pills or quick fixes. What you do need is a solid reason as to why you want to lose weight and what your motivation is, some consistency and plenty of hard work!
“A little of what you want and a lot of what you need”.
...that’s my mantra anyway.
Remember, if you need some help with staying accountable to someone to be consistent, myself and the BTN are always here to help.
So, what are you waiting for…. go set some goals and smash them!