I have followed the WW/Weight Watchers program for years, from "exchanges" up to the most recent Wellness Wins program.
#1: Going on a Diet
This may sound ridiculous, but the best way to fail at losing weight is to go on a diet. Before you stop reading, let me explain. If you think of weight management as something that you only do for a few weeks or months, you have failed before you even begin. Maintaining a healthy weight is a lifelong process, not an event.
Sure, you’re going to have good days and bad days. But if you think that “eating healthy” is something you only do when you are trying to take off a few pounds, you might as well save your time and effort. Weight management (and overall health management) is part of a lifestyle, not a temporary solution to a problem.
#2: Expecting Immediate and/or Constant Results
I get it. We all want immediate gratification. But no matter how good you are in the beginning, sooner or later real life will get in the way. You’ll find yourself at a party or other social gathering, staring at cookies, pies, cakes, chips, dips, booze, and soft drinks, and realizing that there’s nothing there for you except plain ice tea. So you let down your guard, and you slide off the diet. The next time you weigh, you’ve gained back some weight and you’re crushed.
An effective weight loss program is going to have weeks of progress, a few plateaus, and some backslides. It’s all part of the process. If you don’t wrap your mind around those realities, then any pothole in the road is going to toss you off the diet band wagon. So brace yourself for a bumpy ride, and try to keep your eye on long term success.
#3: Being Overly Restrictive
If you go on a high protein, low carb diet, you will probably get some fantastic short term results. You’ll probably also miss eating “normal” foods like bread or pasta. Even diet plans where they supposedly send you a variety of food, you’re still not eating whatever you want.
For this reason, I’m a big fan of the Weight Watchers approach, where you can eat literally anything you want. The only change is portion control. But even if you don’t want to go down the Weight Watchers path, you can still get out the calorie counter and record your food intake. As long as you eat less than your burn off, you will lose weight. Even if it’s pizza.
#4: Thinking You Can Lose by Diet Alone
It’s all about taking in fewer calories than you burn. Plain and simple. Sure, you can do that by only adjusting what you eat (or don’t eat), but if you don’t address your sedentary lifestyle as well, your long term prospects are bleak.
I personally don’t promote intense workouts, or going to the gym every day. If that’s your thing, then fine. But you don’t need to become a fitness guru to take off the pounds. You just need to ratchet up your metabolism. And you can do that by walking more, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or even bowling. Anything that will add more activity to your lifestyle.
Taking baby steps is fine. Remember this simple idea:
- Don’t lie down if you can sit
- Don’t sit if you can stand
- Don’t stand if you can walk
#5: Viewing Food as a Friend, Not Fuel
We all need to be nurtured and comforted. The best way to do this is with some simple, human TLC. But when we can’t get that, many of us turn to food instead. We even have a name for it: comfort food. That could mean anything from ice cream to mac ‘n cheese, but if we are eating just to make ourselves feel better on a regular basis, then we will have sabotaged our weight loss progress.
Alternatively, come up with several “go-to” activities for when you’re feeling the need for comfort. Here are a few ideas:
- Put your feet up, and browse through a magazine.
- Take a long, hot bath or shower.
- Surf the internet for vacation ideas.
- Find a quiet place, and meditate for 10 minutes
Those are just a few ideas. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
Take heart. There is still time for you to get to your goal weight; no matter how old you are or how many pounds you want to get rid of. And there has never been a better time in history to find tools, tips, and techniques to help you. You found this article, right?
Best of luck!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Carolyn Fields
Abitha from Chennai, Tamilnadu on September 19, 2019:
A practical article on healthy living. Balance is always key and often the most difficult to achieve. I especially like the way you began the article. With terms like comfort food often heard, I like that phrase food as fuel and not a friend!
Yamuna Hrodvitnir on March 03, 2018:
Thank you for this article! I've been recently working on losing weight. I wasn't too overweight, but I grew tired of not at least being at a "healthy" weight.
I went on the Keto diet, because a friend of mine had amazing results from it. UNFORTUNATELY I tried this during what my family considers the Birthday Season. So everyone was eating cake and pizza to celebrate, and while I was very happy with the food that I did get to eat, I felt very sad and left out.
I did lose about half of my goal in weight before breaking down and eating an anniversary cheeseburger, though!
I've started just watching calories and keeping up on the exercise. But I do believe that dropping that initial weight was super important and a good motivator for me to keep going... just in a bit less restrictive way.