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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