Last time, we talked about different reasons your diet is failing ranging from poor planning, doing way too much to soon and even failing to actually restrict calories. If you haven't read part 1 yet, click that link and read it first. You need it if you are here.
While these are certainly primary reasons that your diet is failing, there are a few other potential reasons; reasons that may or may not be your fault.
Lets dive in to some other reasons your diet is failing and what you can do about.
You’re Too Restrictive
People often associate going on a diet with restriction.
While restriction will occur on a successful weight loss diet, many people take it too far, too soon. The fact that many people’s first line of defense when beginning a diet is to eliminate some of their favorite things means that people have been brainwashed to think that’s a requirement.
Unfortunately, once you have habits such as drinking soda, it’s extremely likely that you’ll continue that for a long time. Not to mention, if you decide you need to restrict it, you’ll probably be more likely to go back to it and abandon your diet.
This is all without mentioning that switching from full calorie to calorie free soda would literally do the exact same thing, yet allow you to continue consuming soda.
As far as actual food goes, many people assume you need to eat chicken and rice all the time.
Let me be clear: consuming a majority of your food from lean protein, fibrous vegetables and low GI carbohydrates is certainly an awesome way to go. But it doesn’t need to define your diet and life.
The number one thing as mentioned in my dieting essentials guide is calories. Whether you’re consuming only pop tarts or only chicken and rice, if you consume fewer calories than you expend, you’ll lose weight. Plain and simple.
Using lean protein and fibrous veggies will certainly be the better option health wise but it doesn’t need to be 100% of what you eat.
If you’re a normal person looking to get into better shape, you have to make changes that are sustainable. After 3 months of dieting and losing 30 lbs., what you do after that diet is what is important.
Finding ways to manage your intake, including all foods you enjoy in moderation is key to ensure that once you lose weight, you keep it off for life.
Rather than eliminating foods you love, find ways to incorporate them daily in moderation or make small changes (full sugar to zero sugar soda) that can make a huge difference without requiring you to sacrifice everything you love.
You Guilt Yourself
Guilting yourself into dieting or because you deviated from the plan is single handedly the worst thing you can do for yourself.
It creates terrible habits and makes you hate yourself.
No seriously, stop doing this.
A diet is supposed to help you get healthier and happier. The fact is, losing weight feels good. And it feels even better when someone else notices. You’ve been told that it won’t make you happy? That’s fucking bullshit. Whoever said that has never gone from being fat to skinny. Sorry, but achieving goals you’ve wanted your whole life feels great.
While it does feel really good, it shouldn’t ruin your life. I went years focusing on weight loss that never came. I made sacrifices, avoided foods, avoided drinking with friends, etc.
I’m not saying that losing weight and sticking to a diet shouldn’t be a priority. If you’re motivated and want that, then it should be.
But don’t guilt yourself because you wanted to have some pizza. It’s okay, I promise. And chances are you’re bodyweight won’t change at all because of it.
People like us that guilt ourselves over food look at meals as individually being responsible for success or failure. Truth is, it’s much more complicated than that and rather a culmination of weeks/months/years that make or break your physique.
I implore you to focus on total calories, not actual foods and understand it’s okay to deviate from the plan.
When you finally do so, you’ll thank yourself and actually start to see the progress you’ve been waiting for.
Additionally, if you're constantly guilting yourself and not seeing progress, you probably need to rethink your dieting approach. Make sure to click the dieting essentials link for the absolute bare essentials when it comes to dieting correctly and effectively.
You diet constantly
The final, most glaring issue that I see with dieting (myself included) is that many people chronically restrict calories for a long time. Sometimes this is intentional while other times, it simply becomes habit.
Unfortunately, this often is associated with the inability to lose more weight, which of course, brings with it things like guilt, depression and even sometimes weight gain from the occasional binge.
The reason for this is because just like with any other stress, your body and metabolism eventually adapts to your lower intake.
Let me explain. When you first start restricting calories, it’s a novel stimulus for the body and metabolism.
If you’re regularly consuming 2500 calories per day, you metabolism works in accordance with that number, incorporating exercise, other activities, etc.
If you all of a sudden start consuming only 2000 calories per day, for sometime your metabolism is still functioning at a higher rate of 2500 calories per day. When this occurs, you’re creating a negative energy balance which means you’re consuming fewer calories than you are expending, thus, losing weight.
Since the body’s main purpose is to survive, it eventually adapts to this lower calorie intake to avoid continued weight loss (metabolism doesn’t give a shit that you want a 6 pack).
In this case, you need to begin restricting calories a bit more, and then eventually again, and again.
The problem is that many people consume far fewer calories than they should be (remember the scenario earlier of cutting calories in half from the get go?). In this case, metabolism has adapted and now you’re forced to try and restrict further from what little calories you have.
This is a bad situation to be in.
On top of the inability to continue losing weight, you’re also at a risk of accidentally putting on body weight if you happen to binge. Since your metabolism is adapted to a low calorie intake, if you all of a sudden double your intake over night, your metabolism can’t keep up, which means storage.
If this is a situation you’re in, the number one thing you should try to do is increase calories overall.
To do this, I suggest taking a measurement of your current maintenance intake (instructions here). From here, increase calories by 20% for a period of a week or so, while monitoring your weight. If weight gain is skyrocketing, then decrease that amount slightly.
If no weight gain has occurred, you’re in a good position to increase further.
By doing this incrementally, you can get yourself out of being in a deficit and eventually force your metabolism to adapt to a higher amount, placing you in a prime position for weight loss in the future.
Just remember and I can’t express this enough. If you increase calories, you’ll gain weight. You just need to do so in a controlled manner to minimize it. 20% increases will result in much less weight gain than a 100% increase over night. As with step one, sit down and plan out your approach.
Additionally, if you diet constantly but are still in a good position, I suggest using period re-feeds.
This is quite different from “cheat meals” as they are pre-programmed and controlled increases in calories. Occasionally if you find that weight loss has stalled, I suggest taking 2-5 days of increasing calories from your current amount by 30-50%.
During this period, monitor your weight and composition while training hard. Upon completion of this re-feed, return to a lower calorie amount and continue losing weight.
This is done to help prevent metabolic adaptation so that you can continue losing weight.
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