Why Your Next Diet Will Fail


Chances are you have started a new diet this week. And chances are it will fail.  I recently heard a man describe his failed diet attempt with what he called a “food coach.” His predicament is unfortunately the norm and not the exception.

diet fail

After seeing a friend lose close to 40 pounds, this man decided to join the same program and hired his now thinner friend’s nutrition consultant, which he named his food coach. During their first two-hour call he got the marching order on what to do for the first week, including keeping a log of all his caloric intake while using his coach’s advice on what and what not to eat. At the end of week one he had gained 7 lbs.  During the second call, his coached fired him. “Whenever you are ready, you can call me, “ he recounted the conversation to several men as he humorously chronicled his failed attempt at losing weight.

As I thought about the incident, I know why he couldn’t lose weight. His coach was right, and he was not ready. Unless there’s a motivation tied to a goal, it’s hard for any of us to change a pattern of behavior that has defined us over a period of time.  Why should I say no to warm doughnuts on a Sunday morning? Why should I eat grilled fish when my entire family is eating fettuccine Alfredo with a loaf of bread?

The answer to those questions will determine your ability to persevere or succumb to the temptation. And the answer might be different to each of one of us. I have some friends who are at risk for heart disease whose answers to these questions have to do more with survival than with vanity. For me, if you ask, my ability to say “no” to a lot of tasty treats has mostly to do with health but a lot of it is pure vanity. Yes, vanity.

I love the way I feel when I’m not carrying extra weight and I’m able to run faster and get more done during the day, but I also like the way my clothes fit and how I look when I’m at my optimum weight.  I remember looking at a picture of myself 25 pounds heavier and thinking, “that’s it. I’m making a change today.” That was the beginning of a transformation. It happened over a year ago. To date, I’m still on the program.

Whatever your motivation, you need to see the value in changing your habits and creating an achievable goal or you will, most certainly, not succeed. Hiring a nutritional coach or a personal trainer, and even buying diet pills can only help once you’ve done business with your mind, found your motivation, and set your goal.

Do you have any health/vanity goals? How are you doing?

  • I got serious about losing weight/getting in shape back in June. I had reached the heaviest I had ever been and hated the way I looked. The biggest factor though was that I had a trip to Czech coming up, would be hiking up a mountain, my clothes were getting tight and I had no money to buy new.

    I took it slow this time (normally I go to the extreme and fail to keep up with it) in changing my diet and getting more active. Since then, I’ve lost about 17 pounds and am the lightest I’ve been in years. I have about 10 more I want to lose and am trying to figure out a workout routine that works for me.

  • I love it…for me it was “I needed to give up something i love (food) for something I love even more (health & longevity)!  great post, thank you!

    • Great exchange. I allow myself a cheat meal or day every week. It gives me the feeling I’m not giving up all the foods I love.

  • You definitely have to be ready. It’s a choice YOU have to make. I was 25 years old and weighed 330 lbs. I was miserable. Every diet had failed. I had to get really sick to start making changes, but that’s what it took. A friend taught me things about food I didn’t realize you could do, like eating soup from a cup. Who knew you could make a salad taste wonderful? Walking a little bit each day turned into running everyday. 

    I had to make a lifestyle change. I DESPISE the word diet. It equals failure. Change your life. Today I have lost 145 lbs., and though there are still days I struggle, just like we all do, my life is very, very different. 

    • What an amazing transformation! Thank you so much for sharing your story, I’m sure that will encourage those who think they have gone too far to begin a personal transformation journey. You’re right, it’s not a diet, but a lifestyle. Unless it’s sustainable, then it’s not going to work long term any way.

  • Christian

    This is so true for me. I have listened to so many “well-intentioned” people in my clinic that want to lose weight and be healthier, that they start on a diet/exercise regimen to only fall off the wagon 2-3 weeks later and cough up the excuse that “work is keeping me too busy,” or “I don’t have the time to eat properly,” or “My son/daughter has soccer/hockey/cheerleading/insert-favorite-child’s-sport-excuse-here, and I just didn’t have time,” or “blah, blah, blah….” 

    I believe that this idea of “dieting” to lose weight just sets people up for failure. Why? So many people that lose weight on “diet plans” gain it ALL back within a few short months. The idea shouldn’t be a “diet” per se, as it should be a commitment to “change one’s lifestyle.” 

    For me, the impetus for my transformation was finding that “one thing,” that “spark,” that lit the fire of motivation under my butt to torture my body for the next half hour or so, and eat clean 6 days a week, but also to realize that this change wasn’t going to happen overnight. I changed my habits and thus I changed my lifestyle.

    • I like that you used the word “impetus.” I didn’t know Filipino/Canadians had such vocabulary.

      • Christian

        I like the fact that you are but a poor  and humble immigrant from Brazil that is just trying to make his way in the world.

  • For me, it’s literal food addiction. It’s using food as comfort, entertainment, even therapy. I am actually using it to meet needs that I must let God meet. When I have a right relationship with God about my eating and health, the side benefits will be weight loss and looking better. But if I make them my primary reasons, I’m just trading one idol for another.

    • Amanda, thank you for being so vulnerable. I know a lot of people who are stress or comfort eaters. If I’m not careful, I will be stuffing my face and not even know I’m eating. It’s almost a reflex.

    • Michelle

      Spot on Amanda.  I try to keep God in all aspects of my life, but there’s something about God and my food that I attempt to keep him out of.  You can mess with anything in my life God, but not my food.  I definitely need to turn that over to him.

  • Since February 2011, I’m down around 50lbs.  1470 calories a day, 3 1-hr long strength training sessions a week, and 3 30-minute jogging (walk/jog or walk/sprint these days) sessions a week.  I’ve been heavy for a long time, and I’ve dieted in the past. It hasn’t lasted more than a few months until now, because this time I was ready.  It felt different, this committment, just like when I finally quit smoking. I knew when I was ready, and I did it.  This is taking a little longer. ;D  But I’ll get there!

  • Joni

    I love the fish statement! So true and I regularly choose to eat like this. Have lost 55 pounds in about 2-3 years combined. Need to lose about 20 more. Also stopped taking long-term asthma medicine because I found it was prohibiting weight loss. I’m treating it with something else now. Feeling good–and now I look at food, sniff it, maybe take a bite. And that’s enough. I savor it without actually eating it. I think of the new jeans and stuff–and the entire wardrobe I’ve had to replace and the stuff that still needs replacing and I smile. It’s not worth a donut here and there. One more thing–I’m a scale fanatic. I hop on it almost every day. I’m NOT going over a certain point again. Not gonna happen. It was too easy to let the weight creep up on me. I turn 50 in a couple of weeks and don’t want to start this new era of my life wondering “what if?”

  • David Rodriguez

    Maurillio – great reminder at the start of the year on values, motivation and goals. It is mental before it is physical !

    • “It’s mental before it is physical.” I really like that David.

  • Steve Shantz

    My nutrition consultant/life coach told me not to listen to advice from people who are motivated by vanity or how great they look in that medium Buckle T-Shirt and size 30 jeans. She told me to believe in my inner beauty and that I’m beautiful fat.


    • Are you sure it was your life coach that told you that instead of Satan?

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