Why do most diets fail?

13

Replies

  • JeffFit70
    JeffFit70 Posts: 41 Member
    Solid insights everyone. I think this question gets overlooked in the fitness industry. Losing weight is relatively easy. Keeping it off is where 90% (+ or - depending on the study you look at) of people fail.

    Yo yo dieting is actually worse than just staying overweight. I lost 40+ lbs twice in years past only to gain it all back. I have now kept the lost lbs off for 3+ years.

    The way to lose weight AND keep the weight off is to find something that is sustainable. Crazy diets "work" but you can't sustain them, so the weight comes back. Make small, incremental changes over time. Think in terms of months and years....not "lose 30 lbs in a month".
  • socalkay
    socalkay Posts: 746 Member
    edited February 2016
    "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now." ~ Zig Ziglar
  • hamiltonjoshua642
    hamiltonjoshua642 Posts: 16 Member
    well think of lifestyle change and move more because when you diet and deprive yourself sometimes it a setup for failure that why many people regain weight because there mindset might not be ready
  • Montepulciano
    Montepulciano Posts: 845 Member
    Difference between being on a diet and changing your diet

    Nicely said.
  • Alatariel75
    Alatariel75 Posts: 17,945 Member
    I think one of the main factors in people "succeeding" then putting it back on is the idea that success consists of hitting that "goal weight". It's like they think "did it! I don't have to do this any more!" and go back to old habits.

    Maintenance can be just as much of a struggle as losing the weight. In some ways, it can be harder - you don't get exciting new number on the scale or clothes sizes, people stop commenting that you've lost weight - the reward centre of the brain gets less stimulation than in the losing phase. Portions creep up, the vigilance is lost and the weigh comes back on.

    It's fed by the diet industry too - temporary diets which no one is going to stick with for life that, even if they do have a maintenance phase, it's not in their financial best interests to see you succeed at. The acceptance of doing unsustainable things and learning to maintain when you get there is illogical - it's like learning a new language to lose and then needing another new language to maintain - it's more logical to only learn one new language and make it work for both, but that doesn't sell books or repeat memberships to meetings.
  • kommodevaran
    kommodevaran Posts: 17,890 Member
    edited February 2016
    In my experience of yo-yo dieting and talking with others about it, here are the reasons point-blank:

    1.) They do it only to impress certain individual(s) and minimally for themselves and when those individuals move on, they lose motivation because there is no one left to impress and they are not interested in impressing themselves.

    2.) A change of environment. They had things under control based on a particular environment (say, living on their own for the first time and buying basic goods and eating out minimally with fewer social outings) and fixated new habits based on it. They then lacked the resilience and flexibility when placed in a new environment.

    4.) They only eat well when they feel good. If things are going well for that certain period of their lives, they find more motivation than ever to eat foods that may be a bit boring but are good for their goals. Then, when that phase is over, they go back to eating their junk for immediate gratification to cope with their mundane lives.

    Meaning... there should always be intrinsic motivation that trumps extrinsic factors. Easier said then done, but it's actually rather simple.

    This is not brutal, it's a clarification of the terms "lifestyle change" and "sustainable". Unless we understand what it truly means, those words aren't any more than synonyms for "new fancy diet".

    You pinpointed exactly what went wrong before, and support my belief in that what I'm doing now, will last.

    Seeing a lower number on the scale every week, and getting comments and compliments, can be addictive. Nobody praises you for weighing the same as last month! Except me, I tell myself now, every day, that I'm doing a great job.

    Last time I lost weight, I had access to a gym and spare time. When that stopped being an option, I just stopped being active. I felt surrounded by temptation and saboteurs. Periodically, I was able to eat better, but I could only keep it up when I was feeling good. The food was boring, but it didn't occur to me that it could be the wrong diet for me, because I did feel fine when I stuck to it, the problem was just that I couldn't stick to it!

    The way I move and eat now, is not something I do just because it makes me stay slim and healthy till I'm eighty. It's something I do because it makes me feel good now; the food tastes good, and walking feels good. I don't feel compelled to eat or move in a certain way. The worries are gone. I care about what I eat, and I make sure I move, but I'm not stressed out like before, constantly feeling gulity for not doing what I "know I should be doing".
  • BodyByBex
    BodyByBex Posts: 3,685 Member
    auntiebabs wrote: »
    Two theories.... or maybe a combination of the two

    1)
    When you are losing you have the excitement of seeing the scale go down and encouragement from people who notice, they tell yo how great you look and you get lots of attention.
    THEN...
    People are so excited and proud of their accomplishment that they don't create a strategy for maintenance.
    People get used to the new you nobody ever says "good job for not getting fat again" so you're not getting as much attention.

    2)
    I read/saw an article sometime back, I wish I could cite it.
    It was about how everyones body has a weight set point where it wants to be.
    Turns out you can reset the set point HIGHER, but not lower and if you lose weight it will always be work to keep it off .

    So the upshot was we should focus more on maintenance when we are at a healthy weight, rather than weight loss.


    OH Just found this... https://www.ted.com/talks/sandra_aamodt_why_dieting_doesn_t_usually_work?language=en
    I'm watching it now.

    This TED talk was great!
  • richardgavel
    richardgavel Posts: 1,000 Member
    The past couple times I tried to lose weight, it was always in conjunction with doing my races (running and triathlon), so I would always start Feb-Apr sometime and then once the last race in Aug was done, I fell off the wagon and so lost the habits I built. Two things helped this time. I started in Sept so the goal was more about weight loss than race fitness. And MFP helped me with the precision on calories (prior times I winged it and never tracked). The first month or so, I focused on building good habits, exercising EVERY day, logging EVERY day, skipping soda EVERY day. So the good habits became a regular occurrence and later, I could back off and still stay on track.
  • Verdenal
    Verdenal Posts: 625 Member
    1) They aren't truly committed.
    2) They pick an extreme diet expecting to sustain it. (There is a place for extreme, short-term diets, but an after-diet plan is needed.)
    3) They don't educate themselves about food and exercise and don't develop a maintenance plan.
    4) They don't monitor their progress and make changes as needed.
  • Verdenal
    Verdenal Posts: 625 Member
    bruhaha007 wrote: »
    So much great insight and people speaking from their trials and experiences. I personally think it comes down to a lot of discipline and some people's genetics or medical factors make it even harder. We are addicted to sugar and food that tastes so good but no matter how much we eat those types of food don't satisfy so we are conditioned to eat more and more. So many variables at play but it is encouraging to see so many people desiring improved wellness and health and trying to break the cycle.

    Totally agree with you. Add to this, that in my generation anyway (I'm 52), in childhood, food was used as reward and punishment: Corporal punishment in school for not eating your all your school lunch. If you are badly behaved, go to bed without any supper. If you are good, here's some sweets or cake. Food and our upbringing link food and emotions later in life. That is perhaps why some people eat sweet things when they feel down, and the cycle begins and obesity is the result.

    I think genetics are more important. I'm a bit older than 52 and being sent to bed without supper did not make everyone obese. Many of us were able to eat whatever we wanted and didn't have issues until we became older and more sedentary.
  • Wheelhouse15
    Wheelhouse15 Posts: 5,589 Member
    Diets, and I mean all diets, do work to lose weight while you adhere to them, but there are two places people fall down and fail on them. Note I said people fail, diets do not and that's an important thing to remember. All diets rely on cutting your calories in below your calories burned for the day, which is all it really takes to lose weight. However, the first place people fail is they fall off the diet before they hit their goal due to things such as changes in life situations, holidays, or just unable to handle restrictions on eating. Most people at least lose some weight, and many lose a lot, so the next, and biggest failure point is maintenance. The vast majority of people have only one goal and that is to lose the weight but then they have no follow through plan on how to keep that weight off.

    Those who can maintain large weight loss for a prolongue period of time are rather rare, apparently.
  • Tedebearduff
    Tedebearduff Posts: 1,155 Member
    bruhaha007 wrote: »
    I have read and heard from so many people that a diet works, they lose the weight, only to put it back on and then some several months later. It seems like it is more the norm than the exception. What is the key to not putting it back on?

    It's because those people are not dedicated, maybe didn't lose the weight for the right reasons.

    Like the person who's getting ready for a summer trip or her wedding... she wont last cause she's just looking to reach a goal for that 1 event. When you're motivated internally to live a better life and do it for yourself and nothing else people succeed.

    This is just my experience, I've spent 10 months with someone almost everyday, my time would of cost roughly $30,000. when all was said and done. She lost 80lbs, got married!! saw her for about a month afterwards... haven't seen or even heard from her in 4 months now. Just *kitten* right off.

    Note I am not a trainer or charge people for help, that's just what a gym would of charged for 2 hours a day 6 days a week.
  • Wheelhouse15
    Wheelhouse15 Posts: 5,589 Member
    auntiebabs wrote: »
    Two theories.... or maybe a combination of the two

    1)
    When you are losing you have the excitement of seeing the scale go down and encouragement from people who notice, they tell yo how great you look and you get lots of attention.
    THEN...
    People are so excited and proud of their accomplishment that they don't create a strategy for maintenance.
    People get used to the new you nobody ever says "good job for not getting fat again" so you're not getting as much attention.

    2)
    I read/saw an article sometime back, I wish I could cite it.
    It was about how everyones body has a weight set point where it wants to be.
    Turns out you can reset the set point HIGHER, but not lower and if you lose weight it will always be work to keep it off .

    So the upshot was we should focus more on maintenance when we are at a healthy weight, rather than weight loss.


    OH Just found this... https://www.ted.com/talks/sandra_aamodt_why_dieting_doesn_t_usually_work?language=en
    I'm watching it now.

    Set point theory is garbage. Why does it only go higher and not lower? The whole model of set point theory was that there is some natural weight point that your body wants to be. It was originally shown by brain lessions on rats but that alone means it's proof was among abnormal populations and generalizing abnormal results to normal populations is tenuous at best. Now, we know people naturally put on weight so that kills the set point theory right there, but we can't let facts interfere with this model so we just allow it to go in one direction. Of course, there are still a large number of people that manage to stay at a new lower point so we just will throw them out as anomalies and forget they even exist. So we have a garbage theory since it ignores cases that would falsify it and that breaks a primary tenant of science.
  • csillabrimer978
    csillabrimer978 Posts: 90 Member
    Lifestyle change instead of diet
    Agree , that's all it is, the sooner you accept that the rest of your life will be different from the past , and you focus on maintaining a good healthy diet and exercise routine , the better.

  • _Figgzie_
    _Figgzie_ Posts: 3,506 Member
    losing / controlling is and will always be a life long struggle for me. If an alcoholic or drug addict stops using, it doesn't mean the struggle is over! Good decisions (mostly) every day for the rest of my life, the only way I will maintain!
  • lorrpb
    lorrpb Posts: 11,465 Member
    edited February 2016
    I failed to maintain in the past because I didn't have a plan for maintenance. I thought that because I had worked so hard to lost 70 lbs there was no way I would let it come back. I am less than 20 lbs from maintenance now (132 lost) and I have a plan. I will set a weight range to stay within. When I exceed that, I will begin logging and eating at a deficit until I get back to the middle of the range. I also have kept a journal for the past 20 months with progress pics, measurements, quotes, fitness accomplishments, kudos from others, etc. I think it will help me remember where I started, how far I've come, etc., so there is no more telling myself "A few pounds isn't too bad." "I carry my weight well." Etc.

    I made a conscious decision before I started that I needed to make changes for the rest of my life. I simply cannot go back to eating and not moving the way I was. Just like someone has to make life adjustments because of disease, I needed to do similar things. This enabled me to dodge diabetes before it got a very big foothold and hopefully avoid other chronic conditions.

    Remember, by eating an extra 100 cals per day you can put on 10 lbs per year. This is exactly what happened to me. 5-10 lbs a year for 25 years. It adds up!!
  • Food exists.
  • goldthistime
    goldthistime Posts: 3,214 Member
    nutmegoreo wrote: »
    I'm not at maintenance yet, so take this as an opinion. I think that when you look at is as a diet, it is temporary, and that suggests an end date. Losing weight shouldn't be some torturous restrictive process. I think that if it is enjoyable and you learn better habits along the way, with the end goal to be maintaining what you have learned, then the chance of success is increased. The end goal isn't reaching the scale weight, it's keeping it.

    I am all about making the process enjoyable. Keeping your deficit small so you are not suffering. Eating treats on occasion/in moderation. Finding exercise/sports that you actually look forward to. You cannot expect to hit goal and never diet again. You can give yourself a reasonable range, (5lbs either side of goal as an example) but when you hit the top of that range you will have to restrict calories again. If your approach to weight loss involves suffering, you are more likely to procrastinate. Five extra pounds might turn into ten or twenty before you find the determination to face dieting again.

    In addition, I know that I need to make my mental health my top priority. Above financial success or career success. Even above what I might view as "family obligations". Long term I am able to work harder and give more, if I keep my mental and physical health a priority. Sometimes that means saying "no" in the short term.

  • llbrixon
    llbrixon Posts: 964 Member
    Diets failed because once we get to goal we quit! Maintenance is the next diet goal! Life styles must change with your eating habits in order to maintain a healthy weight.
  • rhtexasgal
    rhtexasgal Posts: 571 Member
    This weight loss go-around, I switched from the diet mentality to a lifestyle change. What areas in my life did I need to change in order to succeed? Some of it was food choices but other things were many quiet moments of reflection trying to determine where it all went wrong. It is this part where many factors play a role. For me, part of it was worrying about my husband because he is in chronic pain and now on permanent disability. It was my mom finally breaking free from my abusive father. It was my mother-in-law trying to recover from cancer. It was me dealing with ulcerative colitis and proctitis. I allowed myself to blunt my emotions with food. The turning point came when I realized that none of my clothes were fitting and I was about to have to buy the next size up and I just could not justify the expense to myself. I stood in front of my full-length mirror naked, cried and said no more.

    I slowly made lifestyle changes, easy ones in January 2014. I started making food substitutions first and made my way up to slowly exercising. Finally, in April 2014 I decided that I was worthy to spend some of my hard earned money on a gym membership and a trainer. That first session with measuring body fat and stuff made my cry and all the more determined. All of this WITH dealing with ulcerative colitis and proctitis and overall body inflammation. Part of the way in on this weight loss journey, I discovered MFP and buckled down, learning from everyone here. It took over a year to lose 50 pounds - slow and steady wins the race. And guess what? With food changes and exercise, my UC and proctitic went into remission again. This is one lifestyle change I will be keeping.