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How to turn ‘diet failure’ into weight-loss success

by Mary C. Weaver, CSCS on March 25, 2013

diet failure

“Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” That’s the boilerplate we see when we buy a mutual fund or other potentially risky investment. It serves as a warning, lest we think success is a sure thing.

But what if we flipped things around and used those words to encourage ourselves? What if we used them to remind ourselves that yes, we can change, that we can succeed in the future even if we’ve struggled in the past?

Plenty of women feel like they’ve “failed” at fat loss because they’ve tried this diet or that diet, lost some weight, and then regained it. Maybe that describes you.

But let’s look at those events as results, not failures. Let’s examine them to see why you might not have been successful. And let’s not make the mistake of thinking we’re doomed to stay unhealthy just because we haven’t attained our goals just yet.

A better strategy is to figure out what we can learn from the past and use our “failures” to make better choices now. You can start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Did the diet provide enough calories to keep you satisfied? (Most popular diets do not!)
  2. Did the diet include enough high-quality protein?
  3. Was the food plan based on normal whole foods (e.g., lean meats, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, whole grains) rather than fake foods (e.g., shakes, meal-replacement bars, “diet” cookies)?
  4. Did anyone support you during your fat-loss program?
  5. Was exercise part of your routine?
  6. Did you have an exercise buddy, join an exercise class, or otherwise enlist the help of people who kept you accountable?
  7. Did the diet promise fat loss if you took certain supplements?
  8. Did the program promise fat loss greater than one to two pounds a week?
  9. Did the diet cut out whole categories of essential macronutrients (for example, carbohydrates or fats)?

If you answered no to some or all of questions 1 through 6 or yes to some or all of questions 7 through 9, the odds were against you.

Don’t let that discourage you: you just learned something. All of those factors have a powerful influence on your chances of success.

This topic has been on my mind since a friend e-mailed to thank me for believing in her—and to say that some of the others in her life have seen her “fail” at diets before and thus expect her to “fail” again.

Here’s what I know: your past performance does not dictate future results.

With solid information rather than hype, people who support you, the willingness to change your habits, and enough self-love to cut yourself some slack when you hit a rough patch, you absolutely can lose fat and improve your health.

I know you have the power.

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Mary C. Weaver, CSCS
I'm Mary Weaver, your weight-loss and body-transformation coach. My specialty is helping women get in the best shape of their lives with satisfying diet plans, effective fat-burning exercise, and loads of encouragement and motivation. Check me out on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!
Mary C. Weaver, CSCS
Mary C. Weaver, CSCS
Mary C. Weaver, CSCS
Grab your Hot Body Kit, including your Look Better Naked report and a checklist of 11 essential fat-loss tips. It's FREE!

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

d November 5, 2011 at 7:50 am

the willingness to change your habits is one of the biggest parts of losing weight if you cannot change your ways you will probably never lose weight


Mary C. Weaver, CSCS, M.S. January 6, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Yes, it’s a a permanent lifestyle change. Thanks for commenting.


yolanda November 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm

“Neurons that fire together wire together” … this is my favorite saying this month! But it does take a lot of discipline and practice to stay on track while dieting. I struggle most with not seeing results as quickly as I’d like but I know that if I keep at it the work pays off even if it just one pound a week.


Mary C. Weaver, CSCS, M.S. November 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Difficult—oh yeah. This is why I like to focus on forming food habits and rules rather than using willpower. Once I get into a routine with specific habits/rules (e.g., “I don’t go through the drive-in; I buy these foods but not those; I don’t eat doughnuts that co-workers leave in the office kitchen”), zero willpower is required. Like brushing your teeth. It’s a habit; you don’t have to force yourself to do it.

Oh—and one pound a week is excellent! Tortoise steps are “faster” in the end because they’re permanent.


Suzanne November 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm

You’ve created a comprehensive check list here while showing that losing weight involves more than one or two variables. So many women regain the weight or stop making progress only to give up and feel disappointed in themselves. Thank you for your continued support for the every-day woman!


Mary C. Weaver, CSCS November 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Thanks! So much misleading info is pushed down our throats by faddists, and I feel very strongly about the damage it does to people’s morale.


Sarah Arrow November 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm

thanks Mary, this is a great “checklist” for when we think we are “failing” when it comes to dieting.

I love the “past performance does not dictate future results” mantra, I am going to adopt it.


Lisa November 8, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Thanks for this list. My biggest challenge is discipline…without discipline and willpower the rest gets shot to hell…


Christine Miller November 15, 2011 at 6:02 am

Having tried just about every diet known to man and woman, and a few unknown ones of my own concocting, I agree completely with the balanced approach to nutrition.

I have starved myself, eaten only raw, consumed huge amounts of protein and no carbs, eaten massive quantities of fibre…and the method that has worked best, longest, and happiest is for me a mixed diet and programme such Weightwatchers offer, because it is not faddy, has built in accountability and companions for along the way.

Great list and post, Mary, thank you.


Amanda Thomas October 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm

At last somebody talking a lot of sense around weight loss! Thanks Mary this post gives women a positive approach. It’s an important reminder to not beat yourself up if you have “failed” in the past. There is a lot of pressure on women to lose weight and distorted images of women with the ‘perfect’ body in the media. This post is very empowering for women.


Mary C. Weaver, CSCS, M.S. October 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Amanda–thanks for your kind comments!


The Great Gordino January 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Hi Mary,
I love the twist you put on the ‘no guarantee from past performance’ idea.
It’s a positvie spin, accompanied by a great list of diet improvements.

One I would add is to ask if the diet is sustainable long term? Because if not then the good work will be undone eventually.


Mary C. Weaver, CSCS, M.S. January 6, 2013 at 7:28 pm

We’re in total agreement, Gordon. That’s one of the problems with diets based on fake foods (e.g., shakes, bars): they don’t teach people how to eat normally and healthfully.


Julie Jordan Scott January 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

What great information you offer, Mary! naturally at the beginning of the year I am, along with many, thinking of different ways to succeed at weight loss and improving my fitness. Your checklist will be helpful as I reassess my next step.

So grateful I hopped over from the Ultimate Blog Challenge facebook page!


Mary C. Weaver, CSCS, M.S. January 8, 2013 at 9:41 am

Julie–thanks so much for commenting! For some reason, your comment was stuck in the spam folder. Glad I found it!


Stella Scott January 6, 2013 at 2:54 pm

I never did go on a “diet”. I only had to change my eating habits once, when I stopped working as a professional dancer. Every day I’m grateful I can leave food on the table when I’m full or say no to a cookie when I don’t want one. Most people around me can’t.


Mary C. Weaver, CSCS, M.S. January 8, 2013 at 9:40 am

Thanks for commenting!


Jacqueline House January 6, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Thanks for the pointers! I’ve decided to focus on lifestyle change with a goal of being healthy in mind, body, and spirit. What I eat will follow! Stopping by from UBC


Mary C. Weaver, CSCS, M.S. January 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Jacqueline, that sounds great! I wish you fabulous success!


Susan Joy Schleef January 7, 2013 at 3:11 am

I saw your comment on the blog challenge about not getting any comments so I scrolled up until I found the link to your post. I can’t really comment about weight loss struggles since I’m happy with the plan I have been following that has lost 30 pounds over the course of 2 years. But I really like your idea of reversing that expression and I will apply it to my struggle in getting my business off the ground: Past failure is no obstacle to future success! Thank you for that!


Mary C. Weaver, CSCS, M.S. January 7, 2013 at 7:12 am

Susan–congrats on your weight-loss success!


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