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5 Reasons Why Diets Fail

5 Reasons Why Diets Fail

Did you know that as many as two-thirds of weight-loss dieters end up heavier and less healthy than when they started? This is because most people begin a weight-loss diet with a short-term mindset and don’t understand that dieting is a lifelong commitment to your health. But you don’t have to starve yourself or cut out all of your favorite foods (though these do tend to be the indulgent, addictive treats that aren’t very good for you) in order to lose weight. In fact, proper nutrition is only one aspect of effective weight loss, and several of the reasons why as many as 95% of diets fail have nothing to do with the foods you’re eating.

1. Commitment Issues

Learning about nutrition and committing to a healthy lifestyle is a choice. Once you find a diet that works, you’ll never want to return to your old ways. But many people have unrealistic expectations of dieting, viewing it as a temporary solution, seeking immediate results, or resorting to exotic and extreme fad diets. Rather than making small, incremental, sustainable changes in lifestyle, diets encourage you to turn your life inside out for two weeks or so. There are often many ways you can configure your diet to cut back (i.e. soda, alcohol, dessert), but you shouldn’t starve yourself or let your diet make you unhappy. Balance and moderation should be your motto, and you should never give up! You must approach dieting optimistically or else you’ll fall prey to insecure and hopeless ideas (“It’s just one burger…”), undermining any progress you may have made. Remember: the small changes last and the big ones don’t. Good health practices are more than just learned — they become a habit and a way of life.

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2. Inadequate Sleep

Sleep plays a vital role in your physical and mental health. Sleep also helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down; this makes you feel hungrier than when you’re well-rested. Sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and obesity, as well as depression and other mental health concerns. One study has found that with each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese went up. Not getting enough sleep also risks disrupting your circadian rhythms to the extent that you develop a metabolic disorder, which can make losing weight nearly impossible. Rule of thumb: get 7-8 hours of sleep around the same time each night and you will be ready to seize the day.

3. Poor Timing of Meals

When we eat is arguably just as important as what we eat. All living things naturally follow a circadian rhythm, and timing is a crucial factor in determining our eating and sleeping patterns. Irregular eating schedules have subtle, yet traceable negative health effects and are associated with increased risks of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and inflammation. The good news is that simply by staying in sync with your circadian rhythm, you will facilitate weight loss. Try eating breakfast every day within one hour of waking up, then having a healthy snack or meal every three to four hours. You need a steady stream of glucose throughout the day to maintain energy and prevent your metabolism from slowing down. As long as you don’t overdo it (see below), you’ll feel better without necessarily eating less. And don’t worry, naps don’t affect your circadian rhythm.

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4. Underestimating Calories Consumed

Calories are just one way to estimate the general healthiness of a food product, and you should always take the measurement on the label with a grain of salt (not literally!). Counting calories accurately is extremely difficult, even for nutritionists and health experts, and if you aren’t cooking the meal yourself, you really have no way of knowing how many “hidden calories” there may be. Big meals and large portions (i.e. holiday feasts and most restaurant dinners) also tend to distort our calorie-counting efforts. But the vast majority of people don’t know how many calories they actually need, anyway. Although the U.S. food supply produces 3,900 calories for each person per day, men claim to eat an average of 2,618 daily calories, while women report eating only 1,877. However, by keeping an honest diet journal, you can begin to have a better awareness of your calorie intake. Dieters who keep a daily food diary tend to lose twice as much weight as those who do not.

Ultimately, calories are merely a rough guideline, and there are many other important factors to consider in choosing your next meal. For example, if the food you eat contains fiber, it will keep you feeling full longer, which can prevent you from reaching for “extra” calories in order to fill yourself up.

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5. Overestimating Calories Burned

All of your body’s processes require energy in order to function properly. A healthy diet provides the body with essential nutrition: adequate fluid, adequate essential amino acids from protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and adequate calories. If you’re cutting back on calories to lose weight, you may find that your diet makes you tired. This makes finding the time and energy to exercise more difficult, and can ultimately make a diet fail. By incorporating a little exercise whenever possible — such as choosing to walk or bike instead of driving, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator — you will burn calories and slowly build up stamina. If you’re timing your meals right and getting enough sleep, you should have plenty of rest and energy to burn more calories than you’re consuming. A healthy diet combined with exercise is far and away the best thing you can do to lower all sorts of health risks, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. Now is the time to stop making excuses and start becoming the person you want to be.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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