7 Top Reasons Why New Year’s Weight-Loss Resolutions Fail
Fast-Track Your Success With These Weight-Loss Tips That Actually Work
Every New Year’s Eve, millions of people promise themselves, “This is the year I’m finally going to lose weight!” (Yes, they even include the exclamation mark.)
Gym membership enrollments soar. Diet and weight-loss books fly off the shelves and people get serious about kicking their pudge to the curb.
However, when February/March rolls around, those unwanted pounds return (if they’ve left at all).
If this sounds familiar, you’re definitely not alone.
According to studies, roughly 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and about 21% of them are weight-loss resolutions. Yet roughly 80% of people abandon their weight-loss resolutions by February/March, despite good intentions to keep them. In fact, studies show that many would-be dieters more than double their calorie intake in the first few months of the New Year.
The Good News: You can easily turn the odds in your favor and keep your resolution to lose the weight you want—even if you’ve tried and failed at weight loss before.
SPOILER ALERT: It has nothing to do with killer ab crunches or starving yourself on rabbit food.
Here are 7 top reasons why New Year’s weight-loss resolutions fail and what you can easily do today to turn resolve into spectacular weight-loss success.
Don’t Listen to the Doomsayers
Many bloggers and other self-styled “health writers” like to call New Year’s weight-loss resolutions an “exercise in futility” based on the 80% failure rate. They write as if they’re providing a public service designed to spare you the pain of inevitable failure.
While there’s no accounting for good intentions, here’s why you should ignore the doomsayers and their immobilizing, inaccurate rubbish.
For starters, the word “futility” means “pointlessness”… meaning “zero chance of achievement.” So it’s an inaccurate word to use in connection with any weight-loss effort.
Case in point: While 80% of New Year’s weight-loss efforts “fail,” 20% obviously succeed! And part of the reason may be that successful people don’t waste their time reading about how failure is inevitable.
Here’s something else: Even the word “failure” is wrong because it implies a final verdict, like a judge pronouncing to a courtroom, “I have weighed the evidence and found that New Year’s weight-loss resolutions do not and henceforth never shall work!”
You and I both know that “failure” is like taking a wrong turn on the road to somewhere. It doesn’t mean you’ll NEVER get there. It just means you made one wrong turn, and that’s not failure. That’s valuable information. You’ve learned one way that doesn’t work for you. So you’re closer to what WILL work, and weight-loss success follows the same road.
If you’ve starved yourself on a salad diet, for example, and gave it up because living on rabbit food was too painful, you discovered one weight-loss approach that doesn’t work for you. So you can explore other approaches, from other diets, exercise and all-natural weight-loss supplements to programs that combine all three.
Weight loss is never about listening to someone tell you that you may as well give up before you start. That’s like letting someone get away with slashing your tires. When you empower yourself with the right information, you’re on the weight-loss road that leads to success, and I know you’re on that road because… well, you’re reading this article.
Don’t Set Deadlines
In order to turn your New Year’s weight-loss resolution into a success story, please remember that you’re not trying to get into Harvard.
Here’s what I mean by that.
When it comes to success, most of us are taught at an early age to set goals according to two “golden rules”:
- Goals must be measurable.
- Goals must have a deadline.
The idea is that deadlines create a sense of urgency that motivates success, and that by taking precise daily measurement of your progress, you always know your distance from a goal. So you stay on track to reach your target, and that’s fine if you only have one shot at something, like making the application deadline to get into Harvard or even getting your holiday shopping done before the stores close. However, when you apply the same stranglehold urgency to weight loss, deadlines can work against you.
For starters, weight loss doesn’t work like clockwork. One day, you’ll be down a pound. The next, you might still be at the same weight. If you obsess and weigh yourself every day on the scales, you only set yourself up for frustration and the sense you’re doing something wrong, which becomes doubt and erodes confidence.
Secondly, there are no actual weight-loss deadlines. You may WANT to slim down and improve your health by a certain date and that’s a great goal! And you definitely have what it takes to get there. So you can relax knowing you’ll never receive an email reading, “We regret to inform you that you have missed the deadline and are no longer eligible to lose weight.” When you resolve to lose weight as if there IS a cutoff date, enthusiastic New Year’s weight-loss resolutions tend to quickly collapse under their own weight of stress, pain and fear of failure.
Successful weight loss comes from setting realistic goals within a general time frame and accepting the ups and downs along the way, and if you’re a pound over your goal by a certain date, that’s okay. You’ll get there.
Have Fun! Seriously!
American writer and self-improvement pioneer Dale Carnegie once said, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing,” and this is especially true when it comes to successful weight loss.
Unfortunately, people often sabotage themselves by vowing to “get serious” about weight loss and ignore the motivational power of enjoyment, but it’s an understandable mistake.
Although most of us are encouraged to have fun as kids, the day typically comes when we’re told to “get serious.” So most of us file “fun” into a box marked “frivolous” and file “seriousness” into another box marked “the way to get things done,” and keep them separate. Yet the two work best for weight loss when combined.
You can “get serious” about dieting, for example. You can keep a food journal to track your daily calorie intake. You can restrict yourself to certain foods and read every single food label to always make sure you’re getting the best nutrition. And for some people, the approach works. Yet research shows that painstaking vigilance in counting every calorie and scrutinizing every mouthful of food causes diets to fail from stress and fatigue.
In other words, getting “serious” about weight loss is a great beginning point. As a general declaration of intent, getting “serious” helps clarify and focus your thoughts and energy on what you want to achieve. Yet once you’ve got your heading, enjoyment is the fuel that flies you to that destination.
So if counting every calorie and deciphering every food label feels about as fun as doing taxes, enjoy the adventure of shopping for delicious new foods in a market where you’re better assured of nutritional quality. If daily ab crunches feel about as enjoyable as having hemorrhoids, ditch the gut punishment and tone your core easier by going for a hike or swim. If work or a busy family life make dieting and exercise only sporadic at best, enjoy the steady, reliable fat-blasting strength of a quality all-natural weight-loss supplement.
However you choose to get the weight-loss results you want, just remember: Once you’re serious about weight loss, have fun doing it.
Change Your Diet Slowly
In the battle of the bulge, many diet-plan peddlers still sound the bugle of immediate and radical calorie reduction as the best way to win the war against obesity. And in the afterglow of a freshly made weight-loss resolution, the idea can seem to make sense.
After all, the best way to start something new is to clean the slate by clearing the old familiar foods from the cupboards, right?
If someone’s convinced you of this thinking, here’s how a sudden and drastic change in your diet can actually lead to even MORE unwanted weight.
While a severe slashing of calories can lead to immediate weight loss, your body is used to a certain daily caloric intake, and it’s biologically wired to defend itself against starvation at all costs. Without adequate calorie energy to support your body’s normal physiological functioning, your body moves into energy-preservation mode and begins to draw energy from your muscles (thus reducing precious muscle mass) while lowering your metabolism.
Because your body uses more calories to maintain muscle mass than fat mass, you continue losing muscle and feeling weaker. As your body moves deeper into starvation survival mode, your body begins storing all the fat it can, meaning radical dieting can leave you more overweight than when you began.
To make matters worse, food cravings don’t just become an urge. They can become primal and unstoppable, like your basic uncontrollable urge for air when you’re underwater. And your body turns those new calories into even more fat as protection against famine.
To avoid going backward in your weight-loss efforts, change your diet slowly.
If you’re in the habit of grabbing chips or other high-carb snack foods during the day, for example, have some carrot slices or celery on hand as a nutritious low-calorie alternative. If donuts are your go-to food while on the road, carry along a container of apple slices or raisins instead. Then add additional changes. When you change your diet slowly, your body adapts to the new lower calories as normal, and as the pounds melt off, they stay off.
Share Your Progress
Support and encouragement are important elements for keeping weight-loss resolutions alive and thriving, and while sharing pictures of your progress on social media may seem vain, publicly celebrating your progress has been shown to improve weight-loss success.
In a 2013 research study conducted by the social-media platform Weilos, people who posted weight-loss progress photos lost an average of 1.2 pounds in a week versus .27 pounds per week for people who didn’t post photos. In a separate study published in the journal Translational Behavioral Medicine, participants who published selfies of their weight-loss progress on Twitter lost more weight than those who kept their progress to themselves. Taking selfies has also been shown to boost confidence, which further helps keep weight-loss targets on track.
The key to making shared-progress selfies work for you is to avoid taking those narcissistic photos called gym selfies, characterized by two types of shots:
- The guy who insists on being shirtless in a gym to show off his six-pack abs while everyone else around him is uncomfortable and just trying to get a good workout.
- The girl who insists on doing the sexy-pouty pose in a midriff sports top while arching her knee up as if she’s somehow wearing high heels.
While research shows that gym selfies tend to receive many likes and comments, research also shows that both men and women find gym selfies irritating.
To avoid annoying your friends, here are some guidelines for sharing your progress:
- Don’t post workout pictures. (This earns the instant label of “gym selfie.”)
- Don’t post too often.
- Try not to pose (at least, not too obviously). Be yourself and act naturally.
- If you must pose, try a bit of exaggeration. People enjoy seeing pictures of other people who aren’t taking themselves too seriously.
Get Clear on WHY You Want to Lose Weight
If someone asked you to go to the grocery store for them and told you nothing else, you’d understandably be a bit confused.
- “Why am I going to the grocery store?”
- “Where is the store?”
- “What am I supposed to buy when I get there?”
Without specific information about where you’re going and why, you might head off on some vague quest to find whatever looks like a grocery store. Yet since you have no idea of what you’re specifically looking for, you might just as easily abandon your quest before you’re anywhere near a checkout lane.
Weight-loss resolutions often start the same way—and fail for similar reasons.
Resolving to lose weight is an important and admirable goal. Yet it’s also a general one. Diet and exercise programs can give you specifics about HOW to reach your goal, but they can’t give you specifics about WHY. They can only give you general incentives like looking and feeling better, and lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke caused by obesity...
...and don’t misunderstand. Those are IMPORTANT reasons to lose weight.
However, you likely came here because of something SPECIFIC.
Perhaps you got winded from climbing up the stairs and knew your body was suffering from carrying around extra weight. Perhaps you were shopping for clothes when you finally had enough of not being able to wear the clothes you want. Whatever it was, you came here because of some specific experience that triggered your resolve to lose weight.
So I’d like you to do something right now that’s really going to help you achieve total weight-loss success. Deal?
Think of the specific experience in your own life that triggered your resolve to lose weight. Focus on what it looked like… what it felt like… what it even sounded like. Next, place that experience ahead in time in your mind to the future. As you move forward in your weight loss, keep that image in focus. When your weight-loss goals have clear detail and personal significance, your incentive to stay on track becomes powerful!
Think Twice Before Making Your End Goal Public
If you’ve read through every section of this important weight-loss article, you’ve shown real commitment to taking charge of your health and happiness, but it also shows trust and belief in yourself, and that’s a huge part of keeping weight-loss resolutions.
I don’t want to keep you from taking the next vital step, so I’ll keep this last tip brief.
Think Twice Before Making a Public Declaration of Your Ultimate Weight-Loss Goal
A lot of weight-loss advisers will recommend the incentive of accountability. The idea goes that if you tell your friends you’re going to lose 20 pounds in exactly 20 days, for example, they’ll root you on and you’ll feel motivated to keep your promise.
The trouble is, if you’ve read through this article, you already know how setting deadlines in stone can sabotage your weight-loss efforts. By setting an exact target weight on top of that, you only increase your risk of sabotage, and if it comes crashing down in the public spotlight, you’re only going to feel MUCH worse, and you don’t need that.
If you feel compelled to make a public announcement about your aim to lose weight, consider only making a general announcement about your intent to do it. Nobody’s going to ask you “how much” and “by what date” unless you tell them, and that leaves you in a choice position. You still get the benefit of people encouraging you while avoiding the stress, fear and anxiety that collapse weight-loss efforts all too often.
The time to publicly celebrate hitting your weight-loss target is when you hit it, and when you do, believe me. The crowd will go wild.
And don’t forget...
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