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The Top 5 Reasons People Quit A Diet & Ways to Overcome Them

Starting a fat loss journey is a significant step towards a healthier lifestyle. However, the path is seldom easy. Many of us find ourselves facing barriers that can make the goal seem unreachable. Understanding these challenges, how to overcome them and simply knowing they are really common, means you find ways to overcome them so you can keep going!

Here are the top 5 reasons I see people give up on their fat loss journey and some things to consider and try if they apply to you.

The Reasons Why People Quit A Diet

1. Lack of Immediate Results

lady on bathroom scales

The most common reason for people quitting is the discouragement they feel through not seeing quick results. Fat loss is a slow and steady process, influenced by individual metabolic rates, initial body composition, and adherence to the plan. It doesn't matter if you want it to happen quicker, the science is what the science is faster is not better.

In practice when you start a diet, you see big losses in weeks 1 and 2 of a diet and most people quit in week 3 because the loss slows or reverses slightly - those early losses are mostly water and food in transit (not fat) and as you switch to a healthier diet likely with more fibre things level out..... you haven't stopped losing fat - you are just seeing various components of your overall weight rebalancing. So, what you see as "failure" is literally just nature and your body doing its thing- getting used to the new regime and evening things out to work better with the new diet its dealing with (digesting).

Try this : 

  • Set achievable goals and celebrate small milestones. A loss of 0.5-1 kg (1-2 lbs) per week is a healthy and sustainable target.

  • Remember, consistent effort over time yields results. Ignore (I Repeat) IGNORE daily scale fluctuations - and the slow down after the first couple of weeks - IT IS NORMAL, it is not a reflection of the diet not working!

2. Feeling Deprived

Most people think going for a super low-calorie diet is a way to hit their goal weight quicker. Unless you just have a few pounds to shed, that you can lose in two to three weeks, this strategy is unlikely to work out for you.

Why? Well, no diet is easy (adjustments to your life will need to be made), but a super strict diet will be REALLY HARD, it will make you tired, hangry and negatively impact your social life. This means it won't be sustainable in the long term unless you are hard core and even if you can stick with it, you will likely be miserable in the process.

A diet that leaves you feeling deprived will likely lead you to abandon the diets and/or overeat (in the evenings/at the weekends) which means a) you are not in a deficit and b) leaves you feeling guilty and "useless".

Try this: 

  • Focus on a smaller deficit for a longer period of time. Aim for a balanced diet that includes occasional treats.

  • Experiment with healthier versions of your favourite dishes to maintain satisfaction without compromising your goals.

  • Get your head around the fact that it is a long game. find a way of eating and moving that you can sustain for the long term and still live your life and have fun.

3. Hitting a Plateau

Plateaus are a natural part of any weight loss journey. They can be frustrating and may cause some to give up if they feel their efforts are no longer yielding results. By a plateau I mean where you (honestly) believe you have been in a calorie deficit for three or more weeks and the trend on the scales is not downward.

Try this:

  • Check your movement levels have your daily steps been consistent/dropped off in the period

  • Check honestly that you have logged all your food/portion control is on point, you don't need to be in a huge deficit to lose- but conversely that means if you are sneaking in treats/being a bit lax with portion control then these quickly add up and you can easily go over calorie goals

  • If the scales are moving downward (even slightly) then the diet is working - remember weight fluctuates for many reasons: salt, water retention, food in transit, but you could try increasing movement and or your deficit a little (100 cals less a day) for three to four weeks and then reassess progress.

4. Lack of Time 

plates of healthy food

A common barrier people put up and the reason they give for quitting is that they are too busy to prepare healthy meals or exercise. However, healthy meals can be super quick to prepare (salad anyone?), and there are always healthier options available when eating out. Most people watch TV for an hour or so a day: So, the reality is it's rare for time to really be an issue.

This reason is often related more to the personal choices you are making. Time constraints are absolutely something that can be worked into a healthy way of life if you want to.

Lots of us are genuinely short on time, and yes of course initially changing how to you eat and move means you will have to spend some time working out how a new healthier lifestyle it's going to fit into your life. Here are some ideas to help you get organised:

Try this: 

  • Plan, shop for and prepare healthier meals in advance to avoid unhealthy choices.

  • Look for ways to prepare/buy healthier versions of the foods you already cook and have healthy snacks on hand.

  • Opt for short workouts (these can be just as effective if programmed correctly) and find ways to integrate more physical activity into your daily routine, like walking or cycling to work.

5. Navigating the Peri/Menopause

It’s crucial not to overlook the unique challenges posed by peri/menopause. This phase of life can be particularly taxing for many women, with hormonal fluctuations impacting your mood and energy levels.

Symptoms like hot flushes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances can make sticking to your fat loss goals feel daunting. However, it’s important to remember that while these changes affect how you feel, they don't prevent weight loss.

Try this:

  • During this time, it may be beneficial to adjust your approach. It is really important to consider smaller calorie deficits to account for fluctuations in energy levels, mood and appetite.

  • Prioritise whole, nutrient-dense foods that support hormonal balance and overall health.

  • Remember that gentle exercise will help your symptoms like low energy, mood and anxiety ASWELL as help you make progress towards your fat loss goal so use a short walk as a go-to solution. Your symptoms are a signal to exercise more not less.

  • Recognise that how your symptoms impact you will vary day to day and week to week. That is normal and perfectly okay. Eating a day or two at maintenance doesn't mean you failed, it means that you listened to your body and did what you could (eating at maintenance - doesn't mean you are putting on weight -just hat your rate of loss will be slowing)

  • What matters is what you do over time. Be patient with yourself, and remember that progress is not linear, not every will be perfect, especially during peri/menopause.

So, there you have the top 5 reasons I see people quit on their diets and suggested ways to overcome them. I hope you found the suggested ways to overcome this helpful. Sticking to a diet does require a mix of mindset adjustment, some planning, and perseverance. But it is all figureoutable. The key is to find what works for you and stick with it.

Did I miss any? Let me know if there is something you need help with. Follow me on Instagram @fitforapurposeuk where you can pick up more tips and ask questions.

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