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Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.

3 Reasons You’re Not Sticking to Your Diet

Starting a diet is easy.

Sticking with it is another story.

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Research tells us that four out of five dieters give up in the first month. Of those who remain, only one in three will still be dieting three months later.

To avoid becoming another diet failure statistic, we’ve got to step back and consider why most people fail and then put in place strategies to avoid the same mistakes.

As a personal trainer, I’ve worked with hundreds of dieters. That has given me plenty of insights into what dieters do wrong. In this article, I‘ll lay out the 3 main reasons people can’t stick to their diets - and provide some practical solutions.

1. All or Nothing Thinking

Many people go into dieting with an ‘all or nothing’ mindset. They are going to make sweeping, wholesale changes. That means going cold turkey on junk food, stopping eating chocolate biscuits, and cutting out alcohol - all at once.

That, though, is not how real, long-lasting change happens. Behavior change research shows that small, incremental changes are the ones that stick.

When you force your body to suddenly abandon the way it's been eating for years, you’re setting yourself up for a crash. It’s asking way too much.

Here’s what all or nothing thinking might look like …

You know that you’re not eating enough vegetables. So, you make the resolve to eat 8 servings of vegetables every single day. You’re going from nothing to all in overnight.

I also see people who may be used to eating takeout five days a week. But then, they decide that they’re going to cut out takeout food completely. The same thing with sugar. They decide they’re eating too much of it, so they cut it out completely.

These strategies simply do not work.

Rather than developing an all-or-nothing mindset, discipline yourself to start small and build gradually. If you’re wanting to eat more vegetables, start by adding a single serving of vegetables to your dinner meal. Once that seems easy, add another serving at another time of the day.

By changing your diet mindset from all or nothing to gradual and incremental, you will vastly improve your diet success odds.

2. Not Cooking

If you are going to make a success of your diet, you need to spend time in the kitchen.

People who have an aversion to cooking are far more likely to order takeout or stop off at Mcdonald's when those hunger pangs kick in.

For many people, however, it’s not the lack of desire but the lack of time that stops them from cooking a healthy meal. At the end of a busy day at work, the last thing you want to do is to cook a meal from scratch.

What’s the solution?

Meal prepping.

Meal prepping involves spending an hour or two on Sunday preparing your dinner meals for the coming working week. You might prepare three dishes that are big enough for two servings each, complete with vegetables and salad. Base your meals around a fist-sized portion of protein, such as chicken breast, red meat, or fish.

Put each of your meals into a plastic sealed container, and place it in the freezer. Make sure that it has cooled down to room temperature before putting it in the freezer. Each morning, pull out your dinner meal for that day and put it in the fridge.

When you get home at night, you’ve now got a healthy, nutritious meal ready to be pulled out and heated in the microwave.

Prepping your dinner meals ahead of time will make it a whole lot easier to stick to your diet.

A training plan we highly recommend:

3. Wanting Variety

Over the many years that I have been helping people lose weight and change their body composition, I have learned an important lesson …

Successful dieters don’t have a lot of variety in their food choices.

Many times, I have had clients who were always wanting variety in their food choices. They’d want a different type of breakfast every day, always be looking for new healthy protein and carb options, and new and exciting dinner meal recipes.

Most of these people were unable to stick to their diet. It was those who were content to eat pretty much the same thing every day that were able to stick with their new eating regime.

Why the difference?

Because the people who ate the same thing every day didn’t have to think about it. The process was simple. They knew what they were eating and they knew that all the ingredients were on hand.

The people who were always after variety, though, had to constantly spend their energy thinking about what they were going to have at the next meal. That can soon get pretty exhausting. And when exhaustion sets in, we revert back to what is easiest. That usually means putting something less than desirable into our bodies.

The key to eating the same foods is to make sure that you really enjoy the foods that you are eating. I, personally, have been eating the same breakfast for years, and yet every morning I look forward to eating it. That’s partly because I know that I’m starting the day with optimum nutrition but it’s also because I love the taste. And it only takes a couple of minutes to prepare.

Here’s what I have for breakfast …

  • Oatmeal with almond milk, topped with walnuts, blueberries, and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

If you are a person who thrives on variety, monotony may have to be the price you pay for diet success. So, make the effort to ensure that the meals that you are regularly eating are the healthiest and the best tasting they can possibly be.

Wrap Up

You don’t have to be another diet statistic. By taking note of, and actively working to avoid, the 3 biggest reasons that people fail on their diets, you can make a success of your new eating plan. Just remember to take it slowly, prepare your meals in advance and get used to eating the same foods.

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