It is likely that many of us have heard someone say that…or even said it ourselves. The New Year is upon us and there are many who will be trying some version of a “diet” in an attempt to make progress towards their New Year’s resolutions. (In November, I wrote about “The Best Diet” and in December, I provided a guide to help you establish those New Year’s resolutions and you can now read those articles in the Blog portion of my website!).
Unfortunately, some won’t make an attempt to change their health for the better, referencing their failed attempts in the past. I am here to tell you that the only true failure is giving up altogether.
I have seen it pointed out that FAIL can also stand for “First Attempt in Learning.” Social media often paints the picture that everything goes perfect the first time. With any significant change, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In my personal journey, I have lost as much as 60 pounds and have kept it off for years. All too frequently it pops up in my “Facebook memories” how I posted about “rededicating myself for the 1387th time” because I had made an attempt to address my health/fitness/nutrition and it didn’t work out.
In a book that I have written that will come out in the New Year about failure, I wrote “failure doesn’t have to be final…even the best fail…it’s what you do in response to that failure that matters.” One of the most important actions we can take when something doesn’t work out as we had planned is to reflect on what happened. Questions to consider: what went well? What didn’t go well? What could I have done differently? What would I keep the same?
Even now, I still have periods where old habits resurface and I may fluctuate up in weight a bit. When I go through those periods, I then reflect on what I could do or could have done differently. I will help you out with this…you will not reach a point where you have learned it all…it is a continuous learning process.
Some common reasons people experience failure in their attempts to improve their nutrition is that they choose an approach that is too restrictive (reference my “Best Diet” article). Last time, the “diet that didn’t work”, did it eliminate all of the things that you love/enjoy? If so, how about this time, you choose an approach that still enables you to enjoy your favorite things, but in moderation?
Last time, the “diet that didn’t work”, did you really give it enough time? In a time where people expect “6 Week Abs”, many expect their bodies/health to improve in that same time frame. Tough love here…you didn’t gain the weight in 6 weeks and it is going to take you longer than 6 weeks to lose it. I often go back to the question, “would you rather lose 10 pounds in 6 weeks or lose 10 pounds that you keep off forever?” Building the habits that will help you keep the 10 pounds off forever will be far more beneficial than the actions you take to lose 10 pounds in 6 weeks. I encourage you to be patient with the process because just when we think nothing is happening, we could be just on the other side of a major breakthrough.
With the “diet that didn’t work” the last time, how consistent were you? Did you have a great breakfast and a decent lunch, and then “blow” it in the evening? Or, were you good all week just to have a landslide on the weekend? These can be signs that: too restrictive of an approach has been taken during the week, meals weren’t balanced well enough, or that you are not eating enough (yes, even when people are trying to lose weight, it is possible for them to not eat enough). This is why I preach sustainability and choosing an approach that works best for YOU…not what worked for a friend of yours, someone at work, or some celebrity.
What did your overall lifestyle look like with the “diet that didn’t work” the last time? Were you trying to feel your best, but only sleeping 4-6 hours a day? What did your stress management look like? Were you drinking 4 cups of coffee a day and only 2 cups of water? What did your fruit & vegetable consumption look like? Were you exercising to burn as many calories as possible? NO nutritional approach is going to overcome or balance out an unhealthy lifestyle.
Lastly, did you try to do it alone the last time the “diet didn’t work.” I coach others and even I have a Coach to help me navigate the trouble areas. Apps are a wonderful tool. I use MyFitnessPal often. However, they do not replace human connection and having someone to reach out to when you are facing a challenge.
In closing, I encourage you to do some deep reflection regarding the ways you feel an attempt to improve your health/fitness/nutrition didn’t work out in the past. I can pose questions to you to initiate that reflection, but it is up to you to answer them honestly to yourself. One of my mantras is “let it be possible.” The moment we say “I’ve tried every diet and nothing worked,” we are closing ourselves off to the opportunity of ever being successful. This time, you are attempting with experience in knowing what may not have worked the last time and can perhaps be just a bit more successful this time. You are worth every attempt to improve your health and live this life to its fullest because we only get this one life to live…so why not get the most out of it? You can do it. I believe in you!
Author: Dr. Candice Dutko
This article was featured by Panorama in their January issue.