At some point, nearly everyone has been on a diet. And almost every person has failed at one time or another on their quest to achieve a healthy weight on that diet. According to the National Institutes of Health, almost two-thirds of people who start a weight loss program end up heavier than when they started. Why do people fail at diets? That’s a big question — but we have a few answers for you!
The Fear of Commitment
Learning about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle is a big task and knowing is only half the battle. Once you find a diet and exercise program that works for you, you have to commit to it. That doesn’t mean you’ll never eat a Big Mac again (everything in moderation, after all) – it simply means that your habits have to change for good. That’s a far taller order than many people realize.
For a lot of folks, weight loss and dieting is a temporary solution to something they’ve been struggling with their entire lives. They want immediate and long-lasting results without the commitment to a healthy lifestyle that good health requires. If you find yourself endlessly searching for quick fixes and you have an entire shelf of fitness DVDs, fad diet books, and various other weight loss products, then it’s time to take a step back and think about your goals and how you plan to achieve them. You’re not going to get sculpted, rock hard abs in just four minutes a day – sorry!
What everyone on a diet must remember is that small changes will last — big ones won’t. Good health is a habit and must become a way of life to truly be successful. Weight loss is a marathon, not a race. So sign up for the marathon!
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Would you believe that your snooze schedule has a huge impact on your physical health – including weight? It’s true! Restorative sleep helps your body to balance the hormones that make you feel hungry or full. When you don’t spend enough time with the Sandman, the hormone that causes hunger shoots up while the hormone that helps you feel satiated when you eat goes down. So, when you’re tired you’ll be hungry and find it difficult to reach a point where you feel satisfied. When you’re well rested, you’re not as hungry.
Sleep deficiency also happens to be linked to a host of chronic illnesses beyond obesity such as kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, stroke, and diabetes. The lesson to be learned here is if you want to lose weight, you have to make sure to get enough sleep every night! A few tips to help you include:
- Going to bed at around the same time each night
- Waking up at about the same time every morning
- Turning off electronics at least an hour before bed
- Keeping your room dark and cool
- Creating a bedtime ritual that helps you fall to sleep easily
More sleep is definitely a good thing, for your mental and physical health! Do what you must to make sure you’re getting good quality sleep every night and don’t count on the weekends to help you catch up. You’ll always be running a sleep deficit if you do it that way!
Timing Meals Poorly
Be like Indiana Jones – choose wisely. When you eat your meals may just be as important as what is being eaten. The consequences of eating at irregular times may not be apparent right away, but over time there will be subtle effects on health, including the ability to lose weight and keep it off. One of the keys to long term weight loss success is to time meals appropriately.
Many people live under the false impression that they need three large meals a day. The truth of the matter is that eating small amounts of food several times over the course of the day has a much more positive impact on blood sugar, helping the body to avoid spikes in glucose that result in being hungrier later on and keeping the metabolism going at a steady rate.
Keep snacks on hand that supply your body with a good quality source of protein such as nuts, cheese, or nut butter. Combine them with whole grains and you’re one step closer to keeping that metabolism pumping and controlling hunger so you don’t overeat. Then, when it is time for meals, you won’t be so hungry that you overeat.
Keeping track of calories is just one aspect of learning how to eat right for weight loss. Make sure to always take the calories on the nutrition label with a grain of salt – not literally, of course, since too much salt is a big no-no! You must look at the big picture on a nutrition label. Many people don’t bother to fully take in the complete nutritional information of what they’re eating. That snack size bag of Doritos may only say 140 calories, but that’s 140 calories in one serving, not the whole bag. Read the information on the nutrition label completely before writing it down in your daily food journal.
Eating out is also a huge minefield of calorie miscalculation, so be careful when dining out with family and friends. When the meal isn’t prepared by you in your own kitchen, there are many hidden calories that can be added (hello, butter!). Plus, portion sizes in restaurants are notoriously large, meaning you’re not getting one serving but likely 3 or more. Even if there’s a breakdown of nutritional information on the menu, it may not always be on target.
The best way to counter calorie underestimation is to use an app on your smartphone or a journal to track calories daily. It’s well documented that people trying to lose weight who keep track of what they eat in a day lose twice as much weight as dieters who don’t. It’s also important to remember calories are merely a guideline. Fiber, sugar, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals are all important factors when choosing what goes on your plate, too.
Overestimating How Many Calories are Burned
The human body requires energy to function, which is the whole reason for eating food in the first place – to provide energy! A diet rich in proper vitamins and minerals, along with adequate hydration, is incredibly important to overall health and wellness. If you’re focusing only on how many calories you’re eating a day to lose weight to the point where you don’t eat enough, you may find it causes you to experience a sharp decrease in energy. That will create less enthusiasm for exercise – and exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle that helps you achieve a healthy weight.
When you do get your body moving every day, you have to make sure you’re not overestimating how many calories are burned. Keeping track of your exercise with a fitness app or fitness tracker is a great idea. That way, you can get an accurate count on calories in versus calories out – and that’s one of the most important things you need to do in order to meet your weight loss goals.
So you’ve tried a diet or two – or five – in your life and not had long lasting success. So what? You have to get back on that saddle and take control. Learn about healthy eating, get some exercise every day, and concentrate on the quality of the food you’re eating and you may find that the elusive success of the past is finally yours!