We’ve all done it – started a diet on Monday feeling really good and sticking to everything throughout the week, and then Friday night comes around and the weekend blow-out begins.
So what goes wrong, why does this happen and what can you do to stop it?!
There are a few things to focus on when thinking about diet failures. I’ve listed a few of them below:
- The way you approach dieting – The perfectionism mindset.
- Motivation – Long & Short term.
- Boundaries – Learning to have personal boundaries around food.
- Nutrition – Getting the right food in to thrive & including things you enjoy.
Perfectionist Mindset With Dieting
After working with clients around the world I’ve seen a huge trend in how people approach diets. It’s almost as if they treat their diet like a work project…
They make sure it’s a good time to start, set a timeframe, decide on a plan and then go all in until it’s done.
While this sounds like a good idea and often works in the short term, this method requires a huge amount of focus and energy, so you’re setting yourself up for failure with this approach.
Treating your diet like a project just doesn’t work.
The precision of counting points, weighing every little thing that you eat or inputting your food into Apps creates black & white thinking.
When you can do it, you’re TOTALLY on the diet.
When something gets in the way and you can’t be perfect, you end up TOTALLY off the diet.
There’s no in-between.
And let’s be realistic…life is unpredictable, right?
How often does your day go perfectly as planned?
It could be something small such as you forgetting your lunch, or something bigger like an emergency disrupting your carefully planned routine. Or even just a party/event that you’re invited to.
The problem is that the RULES most diets set just don’t work when applied to real life.
Yes, you may be able to follow them for a few days.
And some people have the personality type to be able to push through for several months, and occasionally more than a year.
Especially the highly-driven and focused women that I often work with.
Weekend dieting tends to be a particular problem though as it’s the first hurdle that most people often face when trying to lose weight.
Why is this?
Simply because during the week, it’s easy to have a carefully controlled routine that is quite consistent.
On the weekend, however, you are often more relaxed and routine can go out of the window.
You have to deal with going out, temptation from other people, more available food, and of course, alcohol.
Not to mention that your stress has built up over the working week and you’re in need of a release, so it’s very easy to talk yourself into having a “little” reward.
We all know how that can end up!
From the conversations I have, most people don’t actually want to do a diet, but they feel they have to because of how bad they feel about themselves and how their weight is affecting their life.
It’s got to the stage that they don’t have any other choice – the way they feel about themselves is worse than the effort of doing the horrible diet they have to endure.
Because of this, people often go into the process of losing weight already resenting it and can’t wait for the diet to end.
A lot of willpower is used in the process to remain on track.
And the problem with using willpower to lose weight is two-fold:
- Willpower is a finite resource and is only meant to be for short-duration, focused tasks (for example, studying).
- Willpower focuses us on what we DON’T want, and the more we do that, the more we end up getting those things.
How many times have you used willpower to avoid eating chocolate, only to end up binging on it sometime later? (even if it’s several days after).
Solution: Embrace a Balanced Eating Structure
The diet you follow has to be easy enough to work in daily life and enjoyable enough to do 24/7, 365 days a year.
Rather than following diet RULES that create the perfectionism mindset, it’s much better to follow a structure of eating where you can create your meals without the need to count, weigh or log every calorie you eat.
The way I do this with my clients is by teaching them a food structure where they use their hands and eyes to judge their portion sizes. This absolutely works and removes the feeling of going off track when you can’t be as perfect as you want on your diet.
The idea is to learn how to work in the grey areas rather than just black & white, so you’re always doing something towards your goal no matter what.
Short and Long-term Motivation
Again, from talking to many women who want to lose weight, it’s apparent that most of them are acting off very vague short-term motivation and letting their minute-by-minute feelings push and pull them around.
This is understandable, as if you feel terrible about your weight it’s only natural to try to avoid thinking about it and the consequences. You almost become numb to the effects after a while. You’re not happy, but you’re ok. You’re getting through life and you tell yourself that there are people in worse situations than you are.
This creates very wishy-washy motivation that comes and goes and you’re never consistent with anything, so get nowhere!
Solution: Fully Connect with Your “Why”
To get success with your diet, you cannot rely on willpower. The only way to do it is to be totally connected to YOUR REASON to lose weight. Both the consequences of NOT losing it and also how your life will be once you do lose the weight.
And this means in every single area!
For example, how you behave, how you feel, your relationship with yourself, friends and loved ones, your career, money, health and everything else you can think of!
You have to have a vivid, emotionally driven movie in your head of what will happen if you don’t lose weight, plus how your life will be when you do!
Then remind yourself every day.
This will give you both the push to keep going and the pull towards the dream life you’re aiming for!
If you get enough emotional reward from living this way, it becomes something you go out of your way to do because of the immense benefits it brings you.
Boundaries around Food
This leads me to boundaries around food.
If you don’t know what you want or why, then it’s difficult to have boundaries, so creating your motivation (above) is the first step.
Secondly, you need to learn to trust yourself around food.
Most people follow diet RULES and the perfectionist mindset because they feel more in control having none rather than “just a bit” of something.
This is a really important part of the process and involves understanding how the survival brain / unconscious mind works.
It’s integral that you learn to spot how your survival brain tries to control your behaviour by producing urges, cravings and that internal chatter in your head.
When you learn boundaries around food, you can eat your favourite things for enjoyment and in moderate amounts rather than always being fearful that opening a packet will end up with you losing control and eating the whole thing and then blowing your diet.
Solution: Rewire Your Brain
This is one of the most important parts of my FoodFreedomBlueprint™ program.
Here I teach my clients how to re-wire their brains. This gives them a solution to cravings rather than either using short-term coping strategies or giving in and just eating the food to get rid of the urge.
Nourishing yourself and including a little bit of everything
Being nourished is an important part of losing weight as well.
If you don’t start with a solid foundation of high-quality food full of vitamins, minerals and the right proportion of macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbs), then your body is going to be performing sub-optimally.
A good diet has a balance of what you need to thrive, with some extra enjoyable treat foods thrown in (in appropriate amounts) across the week.
Including foods you really enjoy is important because to make your way of eating sustainable, it has to be enjoyable too!
If you cut things out because you want to be perfect, or you don’t trust yourself to eat an appropriate amount, then you are always going to end up craving those foods, resenting the diet and overindulging on the weekends.
Solution: Tick All The Nutrition Boxes
That’s why (as mentioned before) I teach my clients an eating structure rather than having diet rules. They chose what to eat to fit the structure, which includes treats and things they really enjoy.
This makes something they are happy to follow and when they get the rewards of losing weight and creating the life they dream of, they are totally bought into this way of living.
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