Updated: Mar 21
Written by Phoi Yan Yin
Finding success with weight loss is something many people struggle with. Have you been on multiple diets but find that you end up back on square one?
Are you frustrated with hearing about the success stories of others when you see no results?
Does achieving success with weight loss sound like a myth to you?
I understand that the process can be trying, but don’t give up just yet. The path you were on before today may have been riddled with failures, but that may be because of misinformation and misguidance.
Take for example, a child who has never passed a test in class. It is not that he is unintelligent, but that he merely hasn’t been taught in a way that suits his learning style.
Just like every child learns in different ways, every person’s body has been through different experiences. Therefore, each person will have different needs, for successful weight loss to occur.
There is still hope for you. Let’s disregard the failures of the past and look at how the future may set you up for success with weight loss.
1. Find the right diet plan for your specific needs
Many a time, diet plans fail because they are not the right one for you.
You may love carbs, but decide to go on a keto diet, only to find it torturous and unsustainable.
You may be on a 16:8 intermittent fasting diet. But perhaps you don’t snack much to begin with, and find that intermittent fasting is not much different from your usual diet.
You may have signed up for a juice cleanse, or a calorie-restricted meal plan that’s delivered to you for a month. Your weight drops quickly, but the numbers creep back up once your subscription end.
These diet plans may work in the short-term, but they tend not to last. This is because they do not address underlying, intrinsic behaviours that have contributed to your weight over the years. A diet that works for you should:
Address specific issues that you face with your diet and your weight
Be one that you can follow and incorporate into your long-term lifestyle
Think back about all the diets you’ve tried and identify the reasons they did not work. List those reasons down. Then, find a plan that addresses these reasons.
2. Set realistic goals
A big reason why many people find themselves unsuccessful at weight loss is because they set unrealistic weight loss goals.
If you’re aiming to lose more than a kilogram in a week, you’re setting yourself up for long-term failure.
Or, you may set a reasonable goal, but know subconsciously that you’re facing a busy time in your life and that weight loss may end up taking a backseat.
You know your life, commitments, and abilities best.
Take some time to ask yourself how committed you are to achieving your goal. Then, set a realistic target, with clear strategies (more on that in the next point). You’ll find yourself doing much better.
I would prefer for you to set small, achievable short-term goals that you can work towards in bite sizes, than a mountainous task that is mentally defeating.
These small goals may not be your long-term target. But trust me, with diligence and consistency, they form intermediary steps that will lead you to your goals eventually.
Everyone is running a different race, run yours at your own pace.
3. Break it down into manageable steps
Once you’ve set your goal, think about the steps that are needed for you to reach it.
To a 7-year-old child on his first day of school, the thought of graduating from university is daunting and probably inconceivable. Similarly, the thought of losing a large amount of weight may seem impossible – like a dream, almost.
To make this process easier, set small targets to hit each week. This should be led by simple strategies that you can easily incorporate into your daily life and follow blindly, mindlessly…easily!
For example, as a start, instead of telling yourself to completely avoid your weekly McDonalds treat, switch your side of fries to corn.
Or, rather than skip dessert, choose to share the calories (and the joy) with a friend.
There are tons of examples and scenarios I can provide you. However, the best way is for you to think about all the small things you can switch up, as part of your daily life. Because your situation is unique to your lifestyle habits.
Over time, you will find that these small changes become a part of your lifestyle. They are not just a restriction imposed by a strict diet that you would break over time.
You know best what constitutes an improvement to your diet. No one knows better than you as to what’s manageable and what’s not.
Just remember, any improvement is better than no improvement. Of course, the greater the improvement, the sooner you achieve success with weight loss.
4. Find ways to commit yourself to your goals
Everyone has different ways of committing to their goals.
Some like to tell the world about it so they develop ownership to the goal.
Others like to put reminders up around them, such as motivational quotes on the fridge, on their phone wallpaper, or desktop background.
Yet some like to keep it quiet, just in case they fail to meet their goals.
That last scenario is actually quite common! No one likes to fail, let alone be seen to fail. Yet, perhaps that is the greatest incentive of all.
The next time you embark on a weight loss plan, commit to it by letting at least one other person know. Or, if you feel insecure about it, write up a contract that you sign. Then, paste it up on your wardrobe or your bathroom mirror so you see it every morning.
At the start of each day, make a commitment to do something (anything!) to help you achieve your goal. It may not be a “perfect” day, but let it be a good day.
Months down the road, you’d be surprised at how much you’ve achieved.
5. Troubleshoot, troubleshoot, troubleshoot!
Sometimes, despite doing everything right, you may find little change in results.
Or, after making some dietary changes, you may find that your weight has come down. However, despite continuing with the plan, you find yourself stuck in a weight plateau.
Start thinking back to troubleshoot. Did anything change? What was different?
Could you subconsciously be moving less than before because of a change in lifestyle? For example, you may have used to taking public transport and walk to work, but after getting a car, your physical activity has reduced.
Could you unknowingly be consuming more calories from a food that you thought was healthy? (FYI, avocados are great for your health, but also really high in calories.)
Is your metabolism dropping because you’re losing muscle mass? (Click here to read more about how to maintain your muscle mass. Or here, to find out more about chicken breast, a great protein source.)
Is there a gap in knowledge that you need to fill?
Unfortunately, a weight loss journey is not always a picture of continuous success. The body works in wonderous ways, and at times, weight plateaus occur.
This calls for a change in routine to shake things up,
Read articles from reliable sources or speak to a professional about it. You can always get help if you seek it. Sometimes, a little bit of support to boost your learning and progress is worth avoiding all the meandering and troubleshooting that you do on your own. While this article did not provide specific meal plans (there are many out there already!) I hope it has allowed you to reflect on some past failures and future steps, so you may find success with weight loss in future.
This article is first published at The Thoughtful Dietitian
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Yan Yin is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian. She is the founder of The Thoughtful Dietitian, where she provides dietetic services such as nutrition consultations, health writing, and recipe development.