Why Isn't My Diet Working?
By Hiram Perez
Have you been on a new diet for a couple of weeks and found that you STILL can't lose weight? Have you actually GAINED a pound or two since you've been on it? Are you just about ready to throw this diet out the window and try something else? Well, hold on a minute. There might be something else going on that's preventing your diet from working.
Getting your diet to work is like planting a seed in a garden. In order for the seed to grow, you have to plant it in good soil. You have to water it, fertilize it, and protect it from weeds. In other words, a seed needs a good environment if it's going to have any chance at all to sprout, take root, and grow.
Similarly, in order for your diet to start showing results for you, it also needs a good environment. Here are 10 "weeds" that will prevent the success of any diet and may actually be the reason that yours isn't working.
1. YOU'RE NOT REALLY SERIOUS ABOUT LOSING WEIGHT
For your diet to work, you obviously have to be serious about losing weight. You need to have the right mental attitude about weight loss. In other words, you have to get your "head right." This includes:
a. Making a firm commitment to lose the weight, no matter what.
b. Making sure you're doing this for the right reasons. Trying to lose weight to please someone else never works.
c. Convincing yourself that you CAN lose the weight--and that you WILL!
If your diet isn't working, it could be because you're not really serious about losing the weight in the first place.
2. YOU'RE CHEATING ON YOUR DIET
Cheating on your diet and cheating on love both end in disappointment. Consistent weight loss requires, well, consistency. Most of us work so hard to stick to our diet during the week that we convince ourselves that we can splurge on the weekend. Or we think that because we skipped breakfast, we can have dessert with lunch. Both are a bad choice.
It's easy to convince yourself that having a small snack won't hurt, or that you'll work it off later. The problem is it does, and you never do. If your diet isn't working, it could be because you're not following it consistently.
3. YOU'RE NOT EATING FEWER CALORIES
I heard of someone that started one of those protein shake diets. He actually gained a couple of pounds. When he was asked how often he was drinking the shakes, he said, "I drink one with every meal." It never occurred to him that the shakes were supposed to replace his meals, not supplement them.
Many dieters buy low-cal foods, and then eat twice as much. Don't be one of them! The only way to lose weight is to reduce your total caloric intake. Make sure you reduce the size of your portions and cut out all snacks that are not part of your diet plan. If your diet isn't working--or if you've actually gained a pound or two--it could be because you're not eating fewer total calories.
4. YOU'RE NOT EATING THE RIGHT FOODS
Eating fewer calories is only part of the battle. You need to make sure that the foods you do eat are the right types. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you get plenty of fruits, salads, and dark green vegetables. Stay away from refined foods and starches and eat meat in very small amounts (sorry, I'm not an Atkins fan).
Leafy, green, water-rich vegetables will aid digestion, help keep you healthy, and will actually help your body get rid of excess fat. If your diet isn't working, it could be because you're not eating the right foods.
5. YOU'RE NOT DRINKING ENOUGH WATER
When you go on a diet, your body goes into overdrive to get rid of the excess fats and toxins that the diet liberates. Many diets (especially the protein ones) put a strain on your body's organs, especially the kidneys. Because of this, it's vital that you drink plenty of water.
Drinking 8 or so full glasses of water every day helps to flush out the excess fats and toxins your body is trying to eliminate. Drinking plenty of water has other benefits including reducing headaches and improving your hair and skin. If your diet isn't working, it could be because you're not drinking enough water.
6. YOU'RE NOT EXERCISING ENOUGH
The best way to increase the number of calories you burn is through exercise. Pick walking, running, playing sports, swimming, or whatever--just make sure that when you exercise, you actually exercise. Some people go to the gym to socialize, not to exercise. Make sure you're not one of them! Get to work and make sure you stay with it long enough to burn off some excess calories.
To lose weight, shoot for 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, every other day. Note that these 20-30 minutes do not include stretching, warm ups, cool downs, or checking yourself out in front of the mirror. Sure, these are an important part of your exercise routine but you're not going to lose any weight by stretching. At least 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, every other day.
If you've reduced the amount of calories you're eating and your diet isn't working, it could be because you're not exercising enough.
7. YOU'RE EXERCISING TOO HARD
This may be counterintuitive but it's true. If you exercise too hard, your body goes into an ANAEROBIC state (without oxygen). This is when you get so out of breath that you can't seem to take in enough air. When the body is in this state, it burns mostly carbohydrates and very little fat. This is why runners "carb up" before a big race--and also why runners have just as much body fat as the rest of us.
Slow your exercise down to no more than 85% of your maximum heart rate (subtract your age from 220 to get your max heart rate). At this pace, your body is in an AEROBIC state (with oxygen) and most of the calories that are burned are from fat, not carbs. An added benefit is that aerobic exercise tends to be low impact making it easy on your joints.
If you already get plenty of exercise and your diet still isn't working, it could be because you're exercising too hard.
8. YOU'RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH REST
We all live stressful lives. Dieting typically changes your eating and exercise habits-- two more stressor's your body has to deal with. The only chance your body has to relieve tension, rejuvenate and rebuild itself is during sleep so it's important to get enough when dieting.
Not getting enough sleep can actually slow your metabolism making weight loss difficult. It can also make you feel "groggy," which means you probably won't make the best food choices throughout the day. If your diet isn't working, it could be because you're not getting enough rest.
9. YOU'RE FIGHTING TOO MANY BATTLES AT ONCE
Weight loss requires both consistent effort and focus. You won't have either if you're trying to diet and deal with other "major events" in your life at the same time. Major events include things like changing jobs, moving to new house or city, trying to stop smoking, a death, accident, or sickness in the family, and so on. All of these things create a disruption in our lives and cause us to put everything--including our diets--on hold. To make matters worse, how do most of us deal with the stress caused by these major events? By snacking! Your diet doesn't have a chance.
So don't even try. Give yourself permission to put your diet on hold until you can give it the consistent energy and focus it needs. Choose your battles carefully and fight only one at a time. If your diet isn't working, it may be because you're trying to fight too many at once.
10. YOUR WEIGHT LOSS GOAL IS NOT REALISTIC
Like all good things, healthy weight loss takes time. Make sure you're not setting yourself up for disappointment by setting a weight loss goal that is totally unrealistic. This includes not only the amount of weight you want to lose, but also the amount of time you think it will take. If you're doing all the right things and your diet isn't working, it may be because your weight loss goal-or the time required to reach it-isn't realistic.
Once you get all of these issues resolved, you've cleared the way to get your diet back on track. As your diet takes root and begins to work, you should start to see the weight come off easily and naturally.
About The Author
Hiram Perez has made good health and fitness a lifelong study.
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