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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 September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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