Why Diets Don't Work

Many of us have tried different diets at one time or another and most have had less-than-spectacular results. Why don't they work?

The Cycle of Frustration
Many of us have tried different diets at one time or another and most have had less-than-spectacular results.  We've seen a quick loss of five to 10 pounds and are convinced that this diet is THE ONE!  But over time we found that we fell off of the diet and eventually gained all of the weight back (and maybe even more!).  And even if you stick with the diet, you still may have found yourself back to your original weight over time.  So why don't diets work?

Why Don't They Work?

There are several psychological as well as physiological reasons why we tend to crash and burn with diets.  First, psychologically, just DECIDING to go on a diet already sets you up for failure!  You have already unconsciously cast it as an event with a beginning and an end (and not a life-long change).  And in almost every instance it is outside of your normal eating behavior and in some cases can be a drastic departure from what you are used to.  It is SO difficult to change our eating habits in general that if you tell yourself you'll "give a diet a shot," it is almost assuredly going to end in frustration.  This leads to the yo-yo weight loss and gain that we so often see. 

Physiologically, we'll often find that the body initially reacts to the new diet favorably and you see some initial weight loss.  But then the honeymoon ends.  Your body adapts to the new calorie level, slowing your metabolism and possibly even storing more fat to retain energy.  This can leave you lacking energy and craving your old foods and very likely will stall any further weight loss.  And all of these encourage cheating on your diet and eventually abandoning it altogether.  And then you're back to square one.

Lifestyle Change versus Diet

The key to effective change in your eating habits can be summed up in two words:  Lifestyle Change!  You don't want to ever "go on a diet." We've already seen that's doomed to failure.  What you want is to change the way you look at food in general and how you interact with it.  Food is NOT the enemy.  You can absolutely lose as much weight as you need to if you set realistic expectations (it doesn't happen overnight if you want long-term, lasting change), eat smart, and get regular exercise.  Any other quick-fix formula or pill means someone is trying to sell you something. 

Realistic expectations include accepting small increments of weight change over several months as you implement gradual change to your lifestyle.  In terms of eating smart, there are many different ways to change.  Make small changes in your eating patterns on a regular basis, perhaps monthly, that slowly morph your patterns to healthy options.  All options should include having some kind of protein with every meal and starting to reduce your intake of sugar and simple carbohydrates.  There is much more to this topic than I can cover here but each change should be done gradually so that they will turn themselves into new habits for you.  If you want a real view into what you eat every day and where you can make changes, I strongly suggest writing down (or using your PC or phone) to journal your food intake.  Try it over 3-4 days including one weekend day!  You may be surprised at what you are actually eating and forgot about during the course of the day!  This way you are AWARE of your habits and cravings.  That's the first step to change!

And regular exercise will help introduce a calorie deficit, build lean muscle, and change your body to start burning more fat and speeding up your metabolism.  A regular and consistent fitness routine is absolutely essential for a successful lifestyle change to a leaner you.

Local Resources

We are so incredibly fortunate to live on the coast where healthy eating and exercise are readily available.  For food, be sure to visit the weekly where you can pick up locally grown fruits and vegetables that should be a key staple of all of our eating.  We're also fortunate enough to have ANOTHER Farmer's Market on the coast every Thursday in Pescadero.  Be sure to visit the and see what they have to offer.  I've found produce at to always be fresh if you're not able to make it to one of the farmer's markets. 

For exercise, there are several gyms and studios on the coast that can help get your body moving, including my own studio .  And you can also always count on the and north coast bluff top trails to provide wonderful scenery and open space to stay active.

So don't fall for the lure of quick weight loss schemes that will only end in frustration.  Accept that lasting transformation of your body is going to take a long-term lifestyle change and starting making those changes today.  Once you get a taste of success, you won't want to stop!

To Your Health,

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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