There’s always good news to give to many of my personal training prospects who are trying to lose fat and weight during our initial consultation. They usually tried a few diets before meeting me – and when I tell them that the right strategy is NOT to diet, that usually makes them happy and are usually eager to learn more on how I’ve helped thousands (I created Health Promotion Board’s Lose To Win programme) of people attain their ideal weight.

Together with dietitians and doctors, also created a 12-week self study online programme Singapore Weight Management University to educate people on how to manage their weight the right way, and to STAY OFF D.I.E.T (s) (Don’t Include Eating This).

Are you on a diet? It’s not going to be an easy journey, and in fact many people quit just as quickly as they started. It’s one thing to start on a weight loss nutrition plan. But it’s another thing entirely to continue such a program day in and day out.

Normally, people will last about six months on a diet plan. Then the realization sets in about the difficulty of cutting calories and regular gym visits. Then their determination falters and quits on them. Somehow the promise of weight loss doesn’t remain worthwhile anymore. This is a universal failing, and people everywhere think the same way.

You won’t even last that long when the diet is super-strict. When your new eating habits are totally different from what you’re used to, and your nutrition plan calls for avoiding your favorite dishes, then you may even throw in the towel much earlier.

Here are the most common causes of diet failures:

Inappropriate diet choices.

A diet, in case you don’t realize yet, is a lifestyle choice. It’s virtually impossible to totally give up a lifestyle you enjoy in order to take up a new lifestyle that seems full of unreasonable restrictions. So what you need is a new weight loss diet that’s both nutritional and viable. It has to be practical for it to work.

This means making compromises. You can’t pick a diet that’s straining all your mental and psychological efforts. Sustaining that kind of effort will be impossible. The instant your defenses are down, boredom or resentment can set it.

What you need is a diet that you can live with on a daily basis. If a diet is to work, it has to last. As for your lifestyle change, you can no longer be blissfully unaware of what you eat. As Mad-Eye Moody used to constantly harp, you now have to practice CONSTANT VIGILANCE.

Same old, same old. Your own determination won’t be sufficient for you to keep to your new weight loss diet. You will need “home court advantage,” to quote a popular sports truism.

That means you need to change your environment in such a way that makes it supportive of your new nutrition plan. Empty your home, desk drawer, and fridge of all the junk food you can find, and stock them with more nutritious alternatives. Bring healthy snacks with you while you’re on the move, so that you can be ready when the cravings set in.

You can also fail at some diets if your friends and family insist on eating unhealthy food in front of you. Instead, try to enlist their support. Ask them to share your meal, and when they want to eat something that’s not right for you ask if they can do that while you’re not around.

Diet and exercise go together.

Ask any doctor, nutritionist, or gym trainer, and they’ll tell you the same thing. It’s not enough that you count calories. You’ll also need to count reps as well. If there’s one obvious indication as to whether or not you will succeed in your weight loss goal, it’s your physical activity.

You really should go to the gym as well. But if that’s not possible for some reason, there are other activities you can try. You can walk around a lot, go dancing regularly, or engage in some sort of physical sports (chess doesn’t count). Try going to the pool regularly. Just make sure you consult your doctor to see what limitations should be applied in your case. Start slowly, and start small.

Unrealistic expectations.

Some people think this is a cultural thing. An American, for example, may have different expectations from someone living in the UK or Singapore. But all over the world people fall prey to this mistake. People simply think that the weight loss must result in a specific amount of lost weight after a certain amount of time.

That’s not how it works. You can’t just expect to lose 50 pounds in couple of months, or lose 35% of your body weight right away. Set your bar this high, and it can lead to disappointment which in turn will lead you back to your old eating habits.

Be on the alert for all these dangers, and you’ll stand a better chance of lasting more than six months. Hopefully, your diet can last for a lifetime!

Coach Sharm, MSc

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