The truth is weight-loss companies, fitness and wellness companies know how to sell to our insecurities. They make us feel insecure and unworthy, and the more and more of these messages we hear, the more desperate we become to change our bodies.
The last piece of the puzzle in the dieting rollercoaster is your thoughts, beliefs and cognitions.
Thinking of a diet as only a short-term thing will ensure that after the diet is overweight will return. Even more so using diets to manage feelings of unworthiness ensure that no matter what changes in your body you will never feel satisfied internally.
If you can’t see yourself sticking to your diet one year from now, you need to re-think your strategy. There is no point starting an 8-week shred with no plan as to what you might do after the diet is done.
Unfortunately for most people fat loss starts from a place of desperation. We are seeking short term-solutions and immediate gratification. We tell ourselves it’s worth depriving ourselves of food, socializing, energy. It will all be worth it when we get our goal. Our focus is plainly on the goal with no thought after how we might maintain these goals or go back to some sort of normal life.
For most of us, we won’t even get close to our goal because of all the reasons we mentioned before, our body is working hard to keep us in homeostasis. You are also relying solely on willpower to get you through the torture of another meal of chicken and broccoli. If you don’t like the way you eat, you won’t stick to it for long, and it’ll only be a matter of time before life happens and you ‘cheat’
The f*ck it mentality
For people who have dieted before the Fu*ck it mentality is common. Weekdays have been going well, sticking to the plan and then the weekend rolls around. A couple of wines, some nice Avo on toast and the diet is broken. From here there are two options.
Option 1 Get back on the bandwagon the next day and keep working towards your goal. Option 2 Say F*ck it and get 2 large pizzas and 1liter of coke for dinner followed by a bowl of Messina.
The next day we feel so guilty and ashamed we keep going down this path of destruction, comforting ourselves with our favourite Burger and telling ourselves we will start all over on Monday.
Don’t’ worry we have all been there. This second hit of failure now compounds into feelings of guilt and shame and the cycle starts over once again.
Shame & guilt
Starting our new diet from a place of shame and failure is a guaranteed failure. Because no matter what your goal is the goalposts will always be one step in front. What you are chasing is not a number on the scale but a sense of worthiness and accomplishment.
We feel unworthy and unhappy in our skin, mostly internalised from messages around us both from social media as well as the important influencers in our life.
We believe that the solution to this problem lies with weight loss, a new diet, a new commitment.
We treat our diet as a sprint, not a marathon. We believe there are only two options either fail or succeed. We decide the only way forward it to go to extremes, either FK it and blow the whole diet, or restrict even harder and more extreme.
Once the diet has been broken, again, we are with feelings of guilt, shame about willpower and discipline. We will turn to food or alcohol to numb or comfort those feelings. In the cycle will start all over again.
What can we do?
If you are ready and willing to change it is not about being good or bad, being on or off the bandwagon. It is about setting up your environment, your habits and your lifestyle so that these changes feel easy. Start with a mindset of compassion and health-positive behaviours. The truth is with any change, new diet, new fitness regime you can have all the strategies in the world, but it’s got to be the mindset shifts to make it stick.
It will require more than a meal plan; it will require a commitment from you to let go of your old identity and create and a new one. This stuff is not easy! If the change was easy, we would all be ripped millionaires living our lives on our personal island.
So now you know why diets fail, what can you do about it?
Firstly, stop the fad diets, no more 8-week challenges, shakes, or meal replacements.
Take time and space to build and healthy relationship with food and start to think about what will work for you.
Understand your relationship with food dieting and your body and get support from a coach, dietician or nutritionist, a therapist or counsellor. Be patient and stay consistent.