Why Diets Fail: Part 2 – Unleash your inner Yoda

In Part One, I wrote about how difficult it is to lose weight successfully when your only tactic is to limit the food you are eating without questioning why you are eating it in the first place.

Part Two concerns how we are our own worst enemies when it comes to successful weightloss.

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda

FEAR. What are we afraid of?

Fear of failure – “What if I change my diet and lifestyle and it’s hard or it doesn’t work?”
Fear of success! – “Once I’ve lost all that weight, will I still FEEL the same inside? So what’s point?”
Fear of offending – “I don’t want to offend someone by not eating their food”

It’s an excuse, it’s a way of deflecting the reason for your current state of health onto others by appearing to be very mindful of others feelings. It’s an easy way to feel good about your reluctance to change your eating habits by appearing to be selfless, and empathetic.

But ultimately, you end up eating the cake/drinking the wine/having the pudding and going home and regretting it, getting angry with yourself (and possibly your friends) and then hating yourself.

Before you have a chance of success, you have to believe that YOU DESERVE success, that your health is just as, if not MORE, important than the feelings of those around you. This is NOT selfish. It is far from it. Looking after yourself and putting your health first makes you far more able to help others, more energetic, able to live longer and generally add more to peoples lives.

Your weight does not define you. It does not make you more or less loving, caring, funny, intelligent, affectionate, talented or compassionate. However, limiting your health and fitness DOES limit your ability to share your talents, abilities and personality with those people that you wish to. So by caring for yourself, you are in reality caring MORE for those around you and creating greater opportunity for selfless acts – if that is what you wish to do.

The only time it does become selfish is if health and fitness becomes an obsession, like anything else, if it becomes the one and only thing in your life to the detriment of all others, then you do have a problem. But that is true of ANYTHING in life. Be it alcohol, drugs, cycling or stamp collecting.

So if getting fitter and healthier is not going to change your personality or skills, why would it affect your relationship with anyone else? It won’t, unless, the people around judge you on looks alone – and who would want that?

“If you end your training now — if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did — you will become an agent of evil.” – Yoda

Ok, evil is a bit strong, but the point is well made. Everyone wants a quick fix. You want results now, and you haven’t got time to think about it, and it shouldn’t be too hard. Nearly everyone reading this knows this is true. You all know that it leads to YoYo dieting. It’s amazing how many people say they are doing a diet from a book, and they never read the whole book, just the main rules, and a few sample meal plans.

In fact, hands up who read the whole of the last post? Last time I checked over 50 people read that post, excellent, thank you. Now how many people then sat down and wrote out the factors that they thought were affecting their success? Really?

There is no quick and easy path – it all takes hard work. That hard work might be in the gym, it might be the mental fortitude required to only have juice for 60 days, or to learn new recipes, or to count calories etc. It all takes effort, but that effort will be wasted if you don’t start addressing those factors that you think are getting in the way of your success.

“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” – Yoda

One of the biggest excuses people give for not being successful in their health goals is their dependence on a certain food. Yes, I said it. Dependence. I often hear, “Well I need my chocolate”, or “I couldn’t give up alcohol”, “I love curry night, I couldn’t give up that” and so on. Have you noticed the difference in the Yoda’s and our own quotes. Yoda advices us to “let go”, not “Give Up”.

What’s the difference, well I think it’s significant. Giving Up, can mean quitting, failure, abandoning plans. Giving up also implies you are no longer doing something that you like to do. It conveys a reluctance on your part, an acknowledgement that you are doing it under duress. These are all negative emotions or actions, which will play on your mind and weaken your position, everytime you say them.

Letting go, for me at least, means no longer holding on to, or no longer employ, to dismiss.

If you are doing the letting go, it is something you are in control of, it is something you want to do. You are dismissing the bad influences on your goals. Rather than “trying” to ignore them or give them up.

This is probably the single hardest thing to achieve – until you can break the hold food has over you, you will not be successful in any long term health goals.

What is your biggest fear about not eating sweet foods, or drinking alcohol for example? I’ll cover alcohol in some detail in another post, but is it REALLY the taste? Do you drink wine because you really love the taste of the grape, with a hint of park benches and apricots? Or is the feeling you get when you drink it, the relaxation, the calming, the fact you feel more fun, and can talk about anything, you feel more like dancing?

For most people it’s the latter – we drink alcohol to literally change the way we are feeling. If you REALLY like the taste, why don’t you drink it all the time? Why not have it for breakfast? If you are answering “I would if I could” then all the more reason to start looking at the external factors in your life!

“Do, or do not, there is no try”

I suspect there are people reading this now saying “Well it’s just that all or nothing attitude that keeps me YoYo dieting”, which is true. I am making the point that all too often we give ourselves too easy an exit route from our plan.

“I’m trying not to drink in the week”
“I’m trying not to eat crisps”
“I’m trying not to eat chocolate”

This is very strange, how do you TRY not to eat chocolate? You cannot try to NOT eat something, unless someone is force feeding you and you are resisting. You can try TO eat something, (I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here!), but eating something is always a conscious decision at some point. You may not currently be conscious that you are eating the Maltesers, but you consciously bought them, or consciously put them in the cupboard, or consciously asked someone to buy them. They did not sneak into your shopping basket, crawl into the cupboard under cover of darkness, and then ambush you in front of the TV.

If you are now thinking, I’m talking rubbish, then you have made a significant step. If you actually HAVE to try not to eat or drink something then you are dependent on it and have now recognised that fact, which means you can start taking steps to remedy it. Depending on the level of dependancy you have, that solution could be a psychiatrist, alcohol dependancy support group, or simply consciously taking steps to removing it from your life.

I saw some tips the other day that suggested in order to stick to a diet, you should reward yourself every so often. I agree. It suggested every five or ten pounds you lose, treat yourself, to a food you like, or a special meal. WHAT!!!!!

This is EXACTLY why diets fail. By following this system you are already admitting that you do not want to be on the diet, you are telling yourself it is a hardship and that it is not for you, and you can’t wait to punish yourself as soon as possible because then you can get back to the bad (good) stuff. Which only reinforces the entire system of using food as a pleasurable reward or terrible punishment.

If ill-informed food choices are making you unhappy, unhealthy, and controlling your life, it is similar to a drug. Would you advise a heroin addict to celebrate a month of being clean by treating themselves to a quick hit?

Treat yourself EVERY day by looking after yourself. Treat yourself with a small gift, clothes that fit your new shape. treat yourself to a new experience, but stop using food as a reward for good behaviour- you are not a dog!

It works in the opposite way, soon you will associate your new diet with the rewards you’ve been giving yourself. Then you will start thinking of the “treat” foods as soon as you think about “trying” your diet. The intervals between treat foods then get smaller and smaller as you willpower weakens and the emotional attachment to the “treat” grows. Madness. The only way you will TRULY get success is if you TRULY want it – if you TRULY want to be a healthier, happier person. Not if you try it for a bit.

It’s ok to DO something and fail, you just DO it again. But stop TRYING. It has such a negative impact on your results. If you don’t believe me, think about young kids and new foods. If you ask them to “just try something”, you already know that 90% of the time they’re going to say they don’t like it, before it even enters their mouth.

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not.” – Yoda

Women and men are objectified in the press and media all the time, with popstars and royals alike praised for their huge weightloss, exceptional figures, or ripped six-packs. It’s an OUTRAGE, it’s DEMEANING, SO STOP DOING IT – YES YOU, READING THIS. STOP IT.

Yes, you! Everyone complains about how it’s awful how people are judged by their looks, how magazines are putting unrealistic expectations on us, but then we do it to ourselves. How many times have you heard someone look in the mirror and say “God I’m so fat”. Stop judging yourself by your appearances. You are no doubt a wonderful person, who has every right to feel good about themselves, and not have others judge them. That starts with you! Stop judging yourself by your looks. If you can start loving yourself, you can start to make the changes you need to for health reasons, and you will be more successful.

There is little personal benefit to getting alot healthier if you are still going to hate yourself for not being another pound lighter, second faster, or ble to lift one more kg. As my little friend once said(ish)…

If you start the health journey through hate, then forever will it dominate your destiny.

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