Are you one of the millions of people who have started diet programs? If you are then you are also likely part of the 70-80 percent who drop out and do not finish. If you have finished a program then please never tell yourself you don't have willpower or motivation EVER AGAIN. With only 20% of people completing programs and even less reaching their desired goal, you are the minority. You may be thinking... but I DO lack willpower. "I got lazy and didn't maintain my results."
If you didn't complete a program or if you did not maintain your results, then I am sorry that the system failed you. You did not fail your diet. They failed you! You are not lazy or lack willpower. THEY were lazy for not meeting you where you were and coaching you in a way that would honor your biology, mind, social well-being, and beautiful body long term. THEY FAILED. They have been failing for hundreds of years, and their 70-80 percent drop out rate and less than 10% success rate proves that the program you were on is the one to blame. Not you.
I understand it may be hard to believe that your past experiences are not your fault and that there was nothing wrong with you or participating in your past diets. Believe it or not, you learned a ton about yourself and your health that you get to carry with you into the next phase of your health journey. It's time to start believing in yourself again. If you have failed to follow through with your goals, then it's time to stop blaming yourself, and it's time to start considering a different approach to how you go about improving your future efforts.
You may be afraid to start again with your goal, and it may feel paralyzing in how far you have to go to get to where you want to be. You may tell yourself...
"what's the point, I've tried so many times, and I always end up right back where I started - or worse."
"I'm done trying, it is hard and exhausting and I feel like crap every time I do."
"It's impossible; I should just accept that my life is going to suck when it comes to this."
"It never gets easier, and I am tired of trying."
If you are in that place today, then I want you to know those are perfectly normal feelings and thoughts to be having, especially if you have tried before and it didn't go well. With each attempt you have re-enforced the belief that it is hard, you lack the skills, and that you'll never get there. You invested a lot of yourself with each attempt, and it is understandable if you are exhausted and feel apprehensive about starting again.
But, let's remember. You are a powerhouse. You do amazing things every day. You have taken brave and bold steps in your life that you have seen incredible payoffs. You are more than qualified and capable of achieving a change in your health when you are ready.
Please remember that you did not receive the support you needed in your past attempt, and when we take the pressure off of the results and numbers, we can focus on what will help support you better, which is gently moving through the scientifically proven process of change.
Here's what will help ensure things go better with your next attempt.
1st - DO NOT REPEAT YOUR PAST ATTEMPT.
No. If you go back on your program and just try harder, it will not be better this time. No matter how kind the coach is on the phone or how much they have improved the program since you last did it.... THEY HAVE BEEN FAILING FOR 100s of YEARS! (see statistics above).
Life and health do not follow a perfect plan. They are living, breathing, changing things! The only program that will truly work for you is the program of your life, and there is no getting around the fact that you are the only person qualified to create it. You do not have to do it alone; I highly encourage building a support team, but, you are the ONLY expert in your life and what feels good and right for you. If you want a program to follow, you will have to be the one to write it.
2nd - Recognize if your goal is a want or something you actually intend to commit wholeheartedly to.
Number 2 is critical. Many people want to stop smoking, lose weight, eat more veggies or drink more water, but they don't intend on making a change because the benefits of their current choices are more appealing. Lack of full commitment keeps them from committing to change, and any attempt is extremely hard to maintain.
Have an honest evaluation with yourself of where you are with your goal. Do you want a change but are not intending on letting go of your reservations and 100% committing to it in the next six months? To be ready for a new habit, you must be willing to " do whatever it takes" to change a habit long term. This is not achieved by restricting food, spending hours in the gym, or following a done-for-you program, eating supplements or mailed box foods, or achieved in 21 or 30 days.
Doing whatever it takes means tuning in and gently take an inventory of yourself, your thoughts, your actions, and work on being kinder, and more respectful of yourself and body. It means learning to accept yourself as whole and complete as you are. It means being open and willing to learn how to stop letting the culture or opinions of others shape who you are or determine your value, worth and how you show up in the world.
If you want to get to a place where you feel confident committing to your goals and want things to be different than before and want all of your hard work to stick and last you long into your future. You MUST walk through the process of change in its entirety to get to where you want to go. You can't skip this step. Becoming gently more self-aware and discovering what values motivate you is the gateway to lasting change.
If you are wanting to transition from want to commitment but are not sure how, your first step is to investigate. DO NOT TAKE ACTION. Learn is the first stage of my L-O-V-E method, because it is the information that builds your foundation to anchor into when things get rough, and we know things will get rough on any change journey.
LEARN more about how making a change might benefit you on a personal level.
If you are in the habit of living on the edge, every minute of everyday jam packed so tight that adrenaline has become your best friend. You don't know how to function if you are not in a go, go, go, do, do, do, put out fires and be needed or productive every minute of every day and it leaves you dragging your hungry, tired bum straight to the couch each night to do the only thing you know how to do for relief anymore which is zone out in front of the TV - usually with your good ol' friend wine by your side.
Nobody has to tell you that exercise would be good for you, improving your sleep habits and managing your stress would probably help you function, make better food choices and have better energy throughout the day, and setting healthy boundaries with your schedule would most likely improve your health as well.
You know all those things, and you WANT to do all of that. But, HOW????
This is where programs are failing you. They tell you exactly what to do and send you out to take action. But if what I describe above sounds like where you are now, and you are feeling a little demoralized by your previous attempts, or it all seems like too much, and you don't know where to start. Action is NOT what you need. In fact taking action will likely reinforce feelings of failure for you because you will have a very hard time following through. Not by a fault of your character, but as a symptom of how our human brains operate and function.
Before you are going to be ready to take consistent and efficient action, you must first dig deeper about the benefits of making a change, and the consequences of continuing your current habits. Become a neutral (non-judgmental) observer of yourself and your current actions.
How are your current habits/thought/actions harming you?
What are you tolerating in your life that is not serving you well?
What would your future be like if you were to commit 100% to change?
What would help support you?
How could you trust yourself or your body better?
What are examples of success in other areas of your life? How could you apply those to your goal?
What feels realistic and completely do-able? What Doesn't?
Create a good ol' pros and cons list. It's one of the simplest and oldest tools to evaluate how ready you are to take action and help move your closer to be ready for successful action.
Example from above:
Nobody bothers me on the couch
I get to zone out
I don't have to do anything or talk to anyone
It helps me fall asleep
Keeping up with shows gives me something to talk about
It is something I can do when I am tired
I don't exercise, which I don't like because it doesn't feel good
I don't cook, which seems like a ton of work.
I don't have to think about what I am eating which stresses me out
I guarantee the following day will repeat the stimulation I have become conditioned to by pushing snooze 1 too many times.
I don't do the movement I want to do
I eat more when I am distracted
I don't cook
I don't communicate with my spouse
I stay up late and am tired the next day
Sitting on the couch does not get me to my goal
I don't socialize as much
My life feels unbalanced
I talk about shows instead of life
You may have to look hard and challenge your ego, but you will find that a lot of your cons, also serve as pros and vice versa. Play with looking for different perspectives for each item on both lists and see what shifts you can make in your thinking to help make change more appealing.
It's going to be tough to maintain any action when the pros outweigh the cons. This is another reason why diets are so hard to sustain. I have yet to meet someone who LOVED being on their diet. There are a lot of cons stacked against you, and it's only a matter of time before you are going to find something you enjoy better than restricting your food.
Once you have evaluated your pros and cons and your excitement, hope, and confidence in your ability to change start to build you can start exploring possibilities of what to do (still no action). I know it is hard to be patient. But you are also tired of starting over, so allow yourself to try something different and go slow. If you feel triggered to jump into action when hearing stories of others "success" gently remind yourself of the story of the tortoise and the hare and the statistics from the top of this page. Let yourself have time to explore, play, and experiment, and remember there are a LOT of health benefits to slowing down.
If you are low on patience and would like to accelerate your path through these stages with some support from a qualified coach, I would love to connect and see if my coaching services are a good match for your needs. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary discovery call.
Wishing you peace on the journey!