The top 9 reasons why diets fail may surprise you. Have you ever succeeded at a diet plan? WAIT! Before you answer that, what is your definition of dieting success? That you lost X amount of weight in X days? Did it last? Longer than a year? Were you able to sustain it 5 years later?
After working with thousands of students through our programs, along with our own personal experience of rollercoaster dieting, and extensive advanced training in metabolism, we’ve discovered how to create real, lasting weight loss. Without deprivation or defeat!
We’ve discovered many reasons why dieters fail at dieting and want to share the top 9 reasons with you today.
Chris Sequenzia is our special guest in this episode. He is not only my husband and ministry partner, he is our Healthy Free Life resident physical therapist, strength coach, metabolic expert and creates all of our exercise videos for our programs. I can’t wait for you to meet him. He will be on many future episodes!
Listen to podcast here (or read down below)
In this episode, you’ll learn that diets fail because dieters often…
11:16 Don’t invite God into the journey.
12:32 Haven’t changed their relationship with food.
17:18 Focus more on losing weight than creating the healthy lifestyle that leads to weight loss.
21:12 Have an all-or-nothing mentality or think perfection is required.
25:58 Believe one diet fits all.
28:39 Think “eat less, exercise more” is the right approach.
35:39 Some are metabolically unhealthy and resistant to weight loss.
38:52 Take a calorie-only approach to weight loss or believe a calorie is a calorie.
44:01 Focus too heavily on diet and exercise and ignore the other healthy habits that are even more important to the metabolism, like worshiping, resting, hydrating, sleeping well and moving throughout the day.
Links mentioned in this episode:
“In the long-run, the people who succeed are the ones who want to live the lifestyle that precedes the results. Stop asking, ‘What results do I want to have?’ Start asking, ‘What lifestyle do I want to live?’ It’s common to want results. It’s rare to want the lifestyle.”
-James Clear, Atomic Habits
Do you wonder why diets don’t work?
After working with thousands of students through our programs, along with our own personal experience of rollercoaster dieting, we’ve discovered how to create real, lasting weight loss- without deprivation or defeat!
We’ve discovered many reasons why dieters fail at dieting and want to share the top 9 reasons with you today.
My husband, Chris, and I have been on so many diets, we joke about going on the Twinkie Diet. (Which we didn’t do, but we did so many other ridiculous diets!)
Chris and I worked closely on this post, so you have the combined wisdom from both of our training, educations, and past failures!
What dieting success is.
Our definition of success is much different. Our definition is not 30 pounds in 30 days. It’s not even one pound per week.
We deem success as a gradual decline in your fat and weight over time.
It’s not linear. Nor is it perfect. It’s not one pound per week. Sometimes it’s going to be a one-pound gain, and sometimes it’s going to be a two-pound loss. It’s going to go up and down. It’s not going to be this perfectly downward trend.
More importantly, IT IS going to lead to sustainable weight loss, weight loss that is not stressful to the body.
We will talk more in later podcasts and blog posts about the reasons in more detail, but we wanted to start our shared discussion with our top 9 reasons so this will be an introduction and foundation and we’ll dive deeper in the future.
Who are we and why should you believe us?
- I’ve been a health coach for the last 10 years.
- Before that, I worked as a registered nurse.
- I’m a physical therapist.
- I’m certified as a metabolic expert.
- We’ve worked with thousands of clients, helping them to easily transition to God’s glorious foods, to a whole foods diet.
- We’ve worked on lifestyle pieces of the puzzle as well.
- We were able to help so many people.
- So many people are able to experience weight loss just by transitioning to God’s glorious foods and adding in lifestyle components as well.
- We both experienced the struggles of diet roller coasters, the yo-yo weight gain, and all of that.
- I’ve shared my story more in-depth in Katrina’s Journey to Health.
- Chris will share his story in-depth in the future.
- We got married early in our twenties.
- Somehow we just started the whole yo-yo diet thing and dieted our way through our twenties.
- And if we weren’t dieting, whether it was the Atkins diet, the Zone Diet, the South Beach Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, we were eating Taco Bell and drinking Dr.Pepper and eating terribly and living terribly.
- This was the first decade of our life together.
We both share our experiences because we know the struggle. The struggle is real.
I hit 30 and was a physical wreck. Things had to change. Chris’s struggle was longer. He struggled through his thirties as well.
It was through education, understanding of the metabolism, how dieting has failed us, and looking at dieting and eating and living in a brand new way that actually helped Chris get results. He’s not only succeeded in finally shedding the weight but he’s also maintained it for the last several years. And he now knows how to maintain his weight through diet and exercise the right way.
Why Diets Didn’t Work For Them
In our practice of healthy coaching and physical therapy, there was a group of people that no matter what they did, they weren’t experiencing weight loss. They did everything right, like:
- eating God’s glorious foods
- focusing on their spiritual health
- getting rest
They were doing everything right, but we still weren’t able to help them. We were frustrated. Our students were frustrated.
We knew there had to be a better way. There had to be something else that we were missing.
So we set out several years ago to find out the reason why.
We began to follow a top expert in the field of metabolism.
And we actually had the opportunity to study underneath him, to be educated by him and his methodology, and became certified through his programs. For over a year, we studied under him and gained a phenomenal education as it relates to the metabolism and specifically the female metabolism, female hormones, and how our diet, our dieting industry, our diet mentality- how we’ve been doing things wrong for decades.
We learned why diets fail.
Now we know what it really takes for people to lose weight and lose weight the right way, for it to be sustainable in a way that lasts a lifetime.
This became a focus for our work with clients and students.
In the last several years, we’ve worked with hundreds of students in weight loss specifically. Again, these are the students that were just resistant to weight loss, no matter what they did.
We Saw Success
- People who had reached plateaus in our programs before were able to bust through those plateaus.
- Those that had struggled with weight their entire life were able to see success unlike any time before.
- Many were able to lose hundreds of pounds through all of our programs.
Why Diets Fail
I think we should all be able to agree that diets fail every single one of us.
They failed you. And they failed Chris and me.
In fact, the statistics show that 95% of dieters fail at diets, and of those that fail, 66% ended up fatter than they were before. (Well, at least that does show that there are those 5%.)
We might have tried a certain diet and lost weight.
So is that diet successful?
In our mind we say, “Oh yeah, that XYZ diet was successful because I lost 30 pounds.”
But then you gained it all back and you blame yourself for it.
So here you are back to your old weight, if not heavier. And then you think, “Oh, I just need to get back to do that diet because it worked.”
But did it? No!
We deem success as a gradual decline in your fat and weight over time that leads to sustainable weight loss, weight loss that is not stressful to the body.
Top 9 Reasons Why Diets Fail!
1. Didn’t invite God into the process.
I dive into this much more deeply in the post Invite God Into Your Healthy Journey.
I don’t remember in our twenties inviting God into our healthy journey. We were Christ-followers in our twenties, were heavily involved in our church, but when we dieted it was like a wholly separate thing from our spiritual life. We had different compartments of our life and dieting, God, and our spiritual health did not go together at all.
2. Haven’t changed our relationship with food.
In How to Eat God’s Way Using Food Glorious Food, I teach about God’s glorious foods and eating God’s way. We need to establish a new relationship with food. So often what we see is that we eat a standard American diet and then we say, “Okay, we’re going to do this diet thing.” And so next week we slam into eating salads and smoothies and sensible dinners or pre-packaged meals, but the diet doesn’t last. And so then what do we do? We go right back to the Standard American Diet– to the way we were.
We have to change our relationship with food.
God’s glorious foods, eaten the right way, can come in and bring nourishment, health, and healing at a cellular level.
Diets don’t usually educate us on why we’re eating what we’re eating. They just give us meal plans, menu lists, and grocery shopping lists. And then we go all in. We clear out our pantry, clean out our fridge, we might spend hours in the kitchen, and we don’t really understand why we’re doing what we’re doing.
That’s why we offer the 40 Day Food Revival. It is so different and it might not be the sexiest thing to talk about, but we really need to know what happens when we eat a certain type of food. Like really, truly what happens.
The Difference in Diets That Fail and our 40 Day Food Revival
- What’s the difference between you eating a carbohydrate, a fat, or a protein.
- What’s that doing to things in your body, your hormone levels, things like that?
With most diets, that’s not discussed. It’s not even brought up. The diet maker has determined the “best way to lose weight,” and they don’t teach why.
Chris has been a physical therapist for over 20 years and nobody ever talked about managing your weight would help your joints heal and not have the degenerative things that happen because of excess weight.
We don’t want to just assume people know about food, so we teach it in my 40 Day Food Revival program. My philosophy has always been that if I have a big enough WHY then the how becomes easy. If you know why foods react in certain ways and why you should choose this food over the other food, and what’s actually happening inside your body, then it’s a lot easier to make the right choice.
We want our students to experience a transformation with their food and have a new relationship with food. And more importantly, see food as God intended so that we can use his foods to heal and nourish our body. We must establish our new relationship with food. Otherwise, nothing really ever changes. The weight lost in a diet was a temporary change. It was a temporary fix.
3. Haven’t established a healthy lifestyle and a healthy habit.
We focus so heavily on weight and not the healthy lifestyle that leads to weight loss. I love this quote from James Clear, the best-selling author of the book, Atomic Habits. He says,
“Everyone wants the results, but not everyone wants the lifestyle.”
We are missing healthy habits in our life because a diet is not a habit. A diet is a plan that you do for X amount of days, and it’s not establishing new, healthy habits in your life, healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Honestly, you don’t want to do that diet for your lifetime. So you’re not. You’re just trying to do it for the next 30, 60 days. We think we’ll push through and white knuckle our way through to get to a certain number on the scale. Then everything will be fine. But if we don’t create new habits, we’ll find ourselves right back where we were before the diet.
If you don’t have the habit of:
- menu planning,
- making a grocery list,
- every week of going to the grocery store,
- preparing your meals every single day,
- and eating nutrient-dense whole foods every single day,
then this diet’s not going to be sustainable.
From a healthy lifestyle, weight loss is a byproduct.
But a weight loss program does not beget a healthy lifestyle.
They’re two different things.
We have created the Healthy Free Life Way, our path to help people achieve the healthy free life that they so desire.
We recognized that our clients needed a clear path to lead them from where they were to where they wanted to be- healthy and free. So we developed a path that begins with committing to God and developing a new relationship with food,
- (Eat) but then goes on to develop healthy habits of:
When we develop these healthy habits, we see the most success.
4. All-or-nothing mentality or think perfection is required.
So we go all in, but we’ve missed how our minds actually work with developing new, healthy habits.
Chris is the king of all or nothing. He has this incredible ability to set his mind to something. He can flip a switch and it doesn’t go off.
Until it does. Or the wheels fall off.
Maybe it’s just his personality or a combination of his personality and his history of excessive weight gain, but he totally knows how it feels.
“I can flip a switch. We used to do ridiculous things at our physical therapy office, where we would have contests to see how much weight we could lose in a short amount of time. We’d all put a couple of dollars in and it was just a bet. Once something like that happened, and I’m not that super competitive in general, but there’s no way if something like that’s happening, there’s no way I’m touching anything that would resemble something that could possibly make me gain any weight. I always knew that the majority of the people were much healthier and they would give in to some things because that’s actually the healthier thing to do, but I always had a pretty good confidence level that I would probably win. Or I had my friend who was also kind of wired like me, it would just be me and him just going at it. And it was literally like down to the ounce sometimes to see who would win.” – Chris Sequenzia
I don’t think that we’re going to be perfect on this side of heaven. And so for us to create balance is where it’s at. I’d rather somebody be 50%, a hundred percent of the time.
It’s better to be 50%, a hundred percent of the time than a hundred percent, for five days a week and then 0% over the weekends.
We can’t have an all-or-nothing mentality.
In fact, I like to live by the 80/20 rule. And this is what we teach our students in the 40 Day Food Revival through our healthy habit Academy, and also in our weight loss programs.
5. Believe one diet fits all.
We remember when we decided to be vegetarians. At that point, we had no desire to really eat vegetables.
We were Carbetarians. We were not vegetarians.
And so we gained weight on that supposedly healthy diet.
But somebody who loves vegetables and purposed to do a vegetarian diet with actual vegetables might’ve actually benefitted and done really well.
It all depends on the person. You can’t force a body to thrive on someone else’s best practices… it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Nowadays, especially with social media, we see THE thing that’s being pushed and yeah, the person on the screen looks great. It’s “worked” for them, but what works for a 20-year-old guy doesn’t necessarily work for a 56-year-old woman, who’s going through menopause.
They are humans. They are both humans, but they’re pretty metabolically different.
We have to take that into consideration.
You must understand that you are different metabolically, physiologically, and hormonally.
And you’re different, especially women, because of the hormonal changes that happen, you’re different now than you were, even though you’re the same physical person.
6. Think “eat less, exercise more” is the right approach.
This is universally what the diet industry wants us to believe. This is what you hear from a trainer at the gym. That’s what Chris did. It’s how he lost 50 pounds, multiple times.
“I totally did the eat less, exercise more mentality. It was just like, let me see how much I can work out, and let’s see how little I can possibly eat and still stay alive, basically. And, it got me to a point where, the last time I did it, I got to a point where I could barely get out of bed.”
What’s Happening in the Metabolism
Eating less and exercising more is based around the calorie model, which simply stated is to burn off more calories than are taken in.
And that is true.
You do need a calorie deficit to lose weight. That’s one of the main things that you need to have in order to have weight loss, but unfortunately, most people don’t understand what that does to their metabolism.
The metabolism is like a stress barometer.
Emotional stress, stress at work, etc. is stress that we recognize and certainly has an effect on our metabolism, but another big stress that we don’t often consider is the stress our bodies feel when we have a huge calorie deficit.
This stress occurs when your body senses that you’re only bringing in a thousand calories, but it needs 2000, 2,500, maybe even 3000, depending on how big you are and how much you’re actually exercising and moving.
Your body is going to register that as massive stress because our metabolism’s job is to keep us alive. The stress of calorie deficit does damage to our metabolism and this leads us to our next reason.
7. Some are metabolically unhealthy and resistant to weight loss.
The massive calorie deficit is especially harmful to women.
It tries to force you to eat more and exercise less because that’s where it wants to bring you back to more of a balance. Hormones start being released and these hormones increase our hunger and increase our cravings.
Our bodies and our minds are going to help by saying, “You need to go hunt and gather.”
And so we have uncontrollable cravings and we have uncontrollable hunger. But the thing is, we’re not in the wilderness. We’re in our homes where we have thousands of calories available to us. We can go to a grocery store or Dairy Queen and then crush out a thousand calories in one sitting.
This is what causes uncontrollable cravings and hunger.
We’re not going to be able to willpower our way through that.
And then we feel like failures because we weren’t able to resist the cravings for calories.
Our bodies know that this is unhealthy.
They know this is not the right way to live. And they will fight against us until they win. And they will win.
So now we’ve stressed out our metabolism and our body is going to release more hormones, which leads to more cravings.
Cravings won’t be for kale, either. The body’s going to crave high-calorie, sugary foods because it knows that it gets more bang for its buck doing that.
Once we eat the high-calorie, sugary foods, we’ll feel really tired.
When we’re tired, we don’t want to go to the gym. It’s not that we’re just being lazy. The body is legitimately decreasing energy levels because it knows that if it can stop us from going to the gym, we’re going to be more likely to get back into that balance.
What happens is what we call metabolic compensation.
Our metabolism is compensating for the damage that we’re putting it through. It doesn’t like that.
So it compensates. Our metabolic rate starts going down.
Since we are not taking in enough calories for the output, our bodies slow the output.
It’s trying to match the calorie input and output to a closer degree.
But then we get frustrated because all our efforts appear to not have any effect.
Then we go back to eating the same amount of calories pre-diet, but now our metabolism is slower. So now the amount of food that normally sustains weight will actually cause weight gain because the body is burning less calories at rest than before the diet.
And we do this over and over again.
The metabolism gets more severely compensated to a point where now we see other health concerns popping up like pre-diabetes, diabetes, auto-immune diseases such as fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid arthritis, and all kinds of digestive issues, like IBS.
Those that struggle with these diseases still want to lose weight, so they try to diet again and the cycle of harm continues.
What they really need is to focus on healing. Weight loss can be a by-product eventually, but the first goal should be healing and health.
8. Taking a calorie-only approach to weight loss.
It’s not about calories.
It is absolutely about hormones. So often we think that a calorie is a calorie, but it’s not.
A 300 calorie donut is not at all comparable to a 300 calorie chicken breast. We fool ourselves into believing they are the same, but they are not at all the same.
- We can eat a lot more of those 300 calorie donuts than you can eat those 300 calorie chicken breasts.
- Food is fuel, but it’s also information for our body. Our body takes the information and does different things with it.
- The donut is basically fat and sugar, but mostly sugar.
Hormonally, when the sugar hits your system, it’s going to be turned into blood sugars. So blood sugar is going to rise. When blood sugar rises, insulin levels rise because insulin’s job is to get the sugar out of blood and into cells. If insulin didn’t do this, it’d be toxic and you would die.
When the sugar is taken out of the bloodstream, it’s stored as fat as storage for a rainy day.
- The chicken breast is basically all protein.
- There may have a small, slight insulin response because of how the body breaks down protein, but it’s not anywhere close to what happens with the sugary donut.
The protein is used for building blocks.
It’s actually going to be stored in muscle and bone, things our body needs to keep those structures functioning properly. Because proteins are not used for fuel, it’s not going to be in the bloodstream and we’re not going to try to burn it off.
It’s going to be stored but in good places.
So again, just because they’re both 300 calories, doesn’t mean that they do anything close to the same thing once you eat them.
- Protein is the macronutrient that leads to more satiation. When you eat protein, you’re going to be full longer because of what it does hormonally.
In our programs, we have our students follow these guidelines:
- prioritize protein
- fill with fat and fiber (because fat has absolutely no effect on your blood sugar and insulin levels) Fat doesn’t make us fat!
- control the carbohydrates (because their carbohydrates are the ones that are really going to keep us on that roller coaster)
9. Focusing too heavily on diet and exercise and ignore the other healthy habits that are even more important to the metabolism.
When we focus too heavily on diet and exercise and ignore the other healthy habits that are even more important to the metabolism, like worshiping, resting, hydrating, sleeping well, and moving throughout the day, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
We hear things like,
“I’m eating the chicken and the salad. I feel like I’m doing everything right. I’m doing what you’re saying perfectly, but I’m not seeing the results.”
We then need to look at the other aspects of health.
This is why all of our programs from beginning to end, are built upon a body, mind, spirit framework.
We talk about that more in-depth in episode one, What Makes Healthy Free Life Different.
True health is made up of three components: body, mind, and spirit.
Our seven habits encompass these components.
We need to have a healthy spirit, so we focus on our habit of worship.
We need to have a healthy mind, so we focus on the habit of resting more and stressing less.
Stress will kill our weight loss results every time. No matter how perfect we are with diet and exercise, if we’re stressed, we’re going to release stress hormones to counteract the feeling.
We have different neurological systems, and one of the systems is the sympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system is the fight or flight system. When we’re chased by a bear, we need the hormones to activate us to action in order to survive.
If we’re sitting at a cubicle at work and getting yelled at by a boss or things are going badly at home, the stress level is elevated and our body can’t tell the difference so releases cortisol in order to get us to flee the situation.
So, we end up elevating our blood sugar, not because of what we ate, but because we stressed our way there.
We’ve got to deal with stress.
One of the ways we combat stress is through rest-based activities.
We need to have a healthy body.
So the habits we look at within the body component is:
- Hydration – We’ve got to make sure that we’re bringing in enough water to help us to metabolize fat and all these other glorious things that our body has to do. It needs water to do so.
- Sleep-We also need to make sure that we are sleeping well, because sleep is like a hormone reset every single night. Our body is restoring, rebuilding and coming back to a place of homeostasis so we can wake up ready for the next day. Sleep is a beautiful thing and we must make sure that we are getting eight to nine hours of deep restorative sleep. Every single night.
We recognize that getting 8-9 hours of deep, restorative sleep is difficult in different stages of life for various reasons, but it’s essential for health and weight loss, so we help our students address the underlying issues.
- Movement- Movement of our body, not exercise, is so vitally important to our metabolism. It is the only thing that actually lowers the two hormones that we have just briefly talked about, insulin and cortisol.
Movement can be a walk outside, walking around your home, making sure you’re standing and not just sitting all day, bending, stretching, pulling weeds, dusting the house, folding laundry, throwing a frisbee, playing 4-square, things like that.
- Eating- Obviously, we need to make sure that our food habit is intact.
- Exercise- Exercise is important as well. We need to strengthen muscles and elevate our heart rate.
We have to honor and recognize that it’s not just about diet. It’s not just about diet and exercise. It’s about the whole body, mind, and spirit that we must bring into true health for us to experience true lasting weight loss.
This is why we focus so heavily on habits in these areas inside our Healthy Free Life Academy. This is why we focus so heavily on food inside the 40 Day Food Revival. And even in our weight loss programs, we don’t just teach about diet and exercise. We make sure that the habits in all seven areas are deeply rooted in our programs because ALL are so vitally important.
We’ve given you the top nine reasons why diets fail.
Remember there were probably at least 47 on our list and we tried to narrow it down to the top nine.
We want to leave you with encouragement.
It’s not your fault why diets have failed you.
There’s a new way.
We look forward to sharing more in-depth in future episodes.
And now I’ll leave you with this blessing from Philippians 4:7
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Until next time. Bye for now.