Why most diets fail
There are several reasons why most diets fail, however the single biggest factor is not diet, it’s not exercise and it isn’t genetics. The biggest factor is actually psychological! Successful weight loss is like success in any other field; it must start in the mind. Like the old adage “Success is an inside job”.
The first and most important psychological aspect of successful weight loss is commitment. If you want to lose weight, you must be absolutely committed 100%. If you “sort of want to lose weight” or “it would be nice to lose some weight” then the chances of long term success are very slim.
The most successful people who lose weight believe that:
1. They absolutely must lose weight
2. They will do whatever it takes to lose weight.
Human behaviour is immensely complex, yet in its simplest form, humans move towards pleasure and away from pain. This is the fundamental core that drives human decision making. Humans strive to avoid pain, and attempt to maximise pleasure.
In reality this equation is more complex; some people are generally more motivated through negative suggestions and some through positive suggestions.
For example, two friends go to the gym four times per week and rarely skip it.
Person A is strongly motivated because the thought of being fat is so painful for him that he will do everything to avoid it. When motivation is low, he thinks about how bad being fat makes him feel, and this pushes him to go the gym.
Person B, however, pictures herself as slim and sexy on the beach and loves the energy that working out gives her. When her motivation is low, she might picture how great she will feel after the workout, or how good she will feel showing her body off to her friends and family.
So both people are motivated to go to the gym. Person A’s motivation is to avoid pain, and person B’s motivation is to experience pleasure. Understanding how you are motivated is important for tilting the equation in your favour. Everyone will use both methods for motivation, but most people will have a dominant method.
Deferred pain & pleasure
Another successful trait of a successful slimmer is the ability to defer pleasure or pain. Basically this means that when something should be done such as “I should eat a healthy meal”, a successful slimmer will think about how they will feel in the short, mid, and long term. Unsuccessful slimmers often only think in the short term; “I want this ice cream now and I will feel great now if I eat it”.
Their ability to imagine how it will make them feel next week when they put on weight is ignored, or the pleasure of the ice cream (now) is greater than the pain of being overweight (next week).
The Pain Pleasure Equation
Therefore, before starting any weight loss plan it is imperative that your commitment is 100%, and the following conditions must be true.
1. The pain of NOT losing weight is greater than the pain of losing weight
E.g. I feel ugly when overweight versus I hate eating healthy food
2. The pleasure of losing weight is greater than the pleasure of NOT losing weight
E.g. My husband will find me more attractive versus I love eating unhealthy food and leading a sedentary life
Your weight loss will most likely fail if these two statements are not true for you. They indicate that your commitment and determination are not really there.
To maximise your chance of weight loss success, the first essential action is to get your motivation(s) correctly aligned. Do this before starting weight loss plan! Below are some very useful techniques for helping boost your motivation.
Psychological techniques to help weight loss
Here are three basic psychological tricks that will improve your motivation and chances of weight loss success.
1) Write a list of motivations in the positive and negative
Write a FULL list of all the reasons you want to lose weight. Write each reason twice, once in the positive form and also in its negative form. Write down as many as you can.
E.g. “I want to look slim because…. (Positive) / I don’t want to look fat/overweight because…. (negative):
- I want to make my children proud of me (positive),
- I don’t want my children to be embarrassed by me (negative).
When you have the full list, read through it again, thinking about each reasons in turn. It should be interesting and useful to notice if your primary motivations are positive or negative. Is there anything you can do to improve the list?
Focus on you motivation list daily, focus on the motivations that you feel most strongly about. I.e. you may not be interested in looking good in a swimsuit, but you may want to cut your risk of a heart attack.
Just a few minutes every morning, throughout the day and near bed time can make a huge impingement on your success levels. Either recall the list from memory or read the list out loud. However, when doing this, really try and picture your motivation in your mind, and notice any sounds or voices and any feelings when focusing. Try and make the motivation as big, bright, loud and intense as you can.
The brain is like any other muscle, it needs training, and it gets stronger with repetition. The more often and longer you provide it reasons to succeed, the more the behaviour becomes ingrained.
2) Think in the short, mid and long term (deferred pain and pleasure)
When it comes to making a decision that will affect your weight loss goal(s), don’t just think in the moment, but think about how it will change you physiologically, and how it will make you feel tomorrow, next week, next month, or even one year from today. For example, should I have that “extra piece of cake”, or “should I go for a walk”. Pause and take a second to think if the immediate pleasure or pain will outweigh future pain and pleasure.
3) Start your commitment today – Sign up
The good news is that if you have read this far, you are already showing signs of being serious and committed about improving your weight, fitness and health levels.
These are all signs of commitment and determination. The more commitment behaviours you display, the more likely you are to stay the course and succeed.
Are some diets and exercises better than others?
Short answer: yes, we will discuss those in future articles
Long answer: With the right mindset many people lose weight while on poor diets & poor exercise routines. They successfully keep the weight off years down the line.
Conversely, many people fail to lose weight when eating the right foods and exercising plenty. Psychologically, they are not properly motivated and/or committed, they never make it or they put weight back on soon after.
We aim to bring you information on the most recent and scientific foods to eat to aid weight loss, along with the most efficient exercises and up-to date products on the market. There will also be ample more on the psychology of weight loss.