As a trainer who is constantly having new clients joining our weight loss boot camps every few weeks, I get a lot of experience with new dieters. The newbies show up just as terrified about going on a new diet as they are starting a new workout program.
There is a process of thoughts that goes through almost every new dieter’s head. First they have to be literally convinced dieting is a good idea. Then once they actually decide to take the plunge, the mind continues to spin with thoughts, doubts, fears and questions. Success will require continual convincing to just stick with it.
Here are my top 12 thoughts every new dieter ponders.
1. I’ve tried it all, and nothing works.
Many people will try just about anything but doing the right (and harder) thing. They will go from one doctor to the next in search for answers. They’ll try fad diets, pills, trainers, “As Seen On TV” gimmicks and pretty much anything but changing their lifestyle.
If you want to succeed, you must be open to the idea (even if you have tried your best in the past) that you may have not done everything right. Once you can accept you might have done it wrong, you can learn how to do it right.
2. I already eat healthy.
If your diet is already perfect, you probably wouldn’t be thinking about dieting. If you are not happy with your current weight, then you need to make some changes no matter how “healthy” you are eating.
Most people don’t realize how many calories they are eating, even if they are healthy calories. They don’t realize how many calories their salad has once they add all the cheese, nuts, Craisins, and dressing. They may have never truly weighed or measured anything so they really don’t have an idea of correct portions.
If you think you already eat healthy, start logging your calories every day for seven days. Chances are, you’ll discover you are eating way more calories than you imagined. Then you’ll be ready to diet.
3. I don’t eat that much.
This person may not deny they eat pizza, but they are truly convinced they don’t eat that much. They brag about how they only eat once a day and they justify eating big meals since they eat so little the rest of the day.
My mom was like this. She would binge, and then starve herself the next day out of guilt. Her body was so confused. Ironically, people who eat one meal a day tend to eat more in one sitting because they are starving by the time they do sit down to eat, plus they are slowing their metabolism down by starving their body the rest of the day. It’s a double whammy.
My mom was shocked she could actually lose weight eating five to six times a day. She ate fewer calories that way than she did when she ate one big meal, and she had so much more energy all day long.
4. I have no idea how to diet.
Just because you have no clue how to diet is no excuse not to try. You can fail all the way to success if you allow yourself to learn along the way. No one starts eating healthy automatically. They learn how to eat healthy. As you read labels, weigh food, measure food, and track calories, you learn to make better choices.
But if you refuse to take the time to learn, then you are refusing to get the results you want.
5. I wish someone would tell me what to eat.
Think about dieting like going to school. Someone can tell you the answers to a test, and you can even pass, but you won’t learn anything. Dieting should be a learning process. If you rely on someone to tell you what to eat, you are setting yourself up for long-term failure.
6. I’ll tell people I’m dieting once I lose some weight first.
Most people who are lifetime dieters don’t want to tell their friends they are dieting again. They are afraid of failing publicly or being judged. However, these same people need even more accountability.
If you haven’t told anyone about your goals, that is a red flag. If you are trying to diet in secret, you are just making it more comfortable to fail. Tell your family and friends. Shoot, put it on Facebook and tell the whole world. The more people who know, the more accountability you have to help you stick with it.
7. I hope this works.
Every new dieter goes in a diet with a certain level of reluctance. Most dieters are somewhat skeptical about diet plans because most people have tried other diets and failed. Some people doubt the system, but most people doubt themselves. The key to success here is to focus on the facts. If you are starting a healthy diet based on sound principles (you aren’t doing some off-the-wall fad diet), you can expect results. You can have great confidence your diet will work for you just like it has worked for others.
8. I shouldn’t have to count calories.
People constantly ask me how to lose weight. I guess they think I’m going to give them a new secret , but as soon as I talk calories they immediately tune me out. Their eyes glaze over and are already thinking of what they are going to ask me next because they have no intentions of counting calories.
Counting calories sounds like work–because it is work. However, our weight is directly related to calories in vs. calories out. Even though there are other ways to lose weight, no gimmicks, tricks, or shortcuts will teach you how to manage your weight like counting calories. You don’t have to count calories forever, but what you will learn will last a lifetime.
9. There has to be an easier way.
Anyone can do something for a short while, but eventually, a new dieter will be tempted to quit or start looking for an easier way. Quick fixes are temporary and will not fix bad behavior. Changing bad habits requires practicing a healthy lifestyle (key word: practice). A quick fix is temporary. Unless you want temporary results, you need to be patient and invest wisely in your long-term health.
10. I should be losing more weight.
Many new dieters are surprised when they get on the scale and they haven’t lost weight. This is common for people who are dieting and starting a new workout routine at the same time. When you start working out, you hold more water and glycogen in the muscle causing your muscle to have an initial increase in weight. However, this will eventually level out. If your diet is right, it will eventually be reflected on the scale too.
Sadly, many people ignore the scale. If the scale isn’t budging, don’t fool yourself into believing you are still being successful. You may need to readjust your calories or fitness plan. Whatever you do, do not settle for a scale that doesn’t budge. Continue to troubleshoot until you get the results you want.
11. Maybe I need to eat more…
Let me just answer this one for you. No. Seriously? “If this was the case,” as my husband always says, “then you just solved world hunger.” You don’t see people on “Survivor” gaining weight, do you? Of course not. Why? Because they aren’t eating enough! They get skinnier and skinnier in every episode. Sadly, however, people actually think they may not be eating enough despite the fact they not losing weight–or worse, they are gaining it.
Like every myth, there’s often some truth to every misconception. There was probably some kind of article about eating more to lose weight, but I doubt it was talking about eating more calories. If you aren’t losing weight, you probably don’t need to eat more, but you may need to eat more often. As you increase how often you eat, you can boost your metabolism…and your weight loss.
12. I can’t wait until this is over.
One of the biggest mistakes a dieter can make is fixating on the diet being over. Don’t get me wrong, dieting isn’t forever. But being disciplined with good eating habits should never end. Eating healthy and holding yourself accountable should never end. Can you celebrate your weight loss with a big cheat meal? Sure! However, you should continue to practice your new healthy lifestyle daily.
I like to compare dieting with budgeting money. Even if you pay off all your bills, you don’t just stop balancing your bank account and start piling on the charges. In the same way, you need to realize you are always accountable for what you eat. Your weight is the balance of what comes in and what goes out. Sometimes you can be stricter about sticking to a budget, and sometimes you can splurge, but you should never be “off.”