Why We Keep Starting (and Failing) New Diets

why diets don't work

Like everyone else, I have a lot of weaknesses. And not just like “I work too hard,” or “I’m a perfectionist,” or other dumb job interview answers. Real weaknesses.

Here’s the biggest one: I really like to start things and not finish them.

I lovingly refer to it as “Shiny Star Syndrome.” I get excited and distracted with cool new ideas and projects and jump in head first. And then come the operational details and executional bullshit (bore-ING) and I slowly lose interest.

It’s why I’ve made a good manager in the past, I’m a pro at delegating things I don’t want to do. It’s also why I’ve struggled with things like staying at a job and sticking to a budget (Shiny Star Syndrome lends itself well to credit card debt).

Adopting minimalism has helped. Once I realized I didn’t need any more stuff to make me happy, I stopped buying it. And once I decided to do the work I really wanted to do, I found clarity around big career choices.

But there’s one thing in particular that nagged me for a long time, and it’s a biggie: weight loss.

Constantly attempting diet after diet, and never following through. NEVER losing a pound. I think it’s something a lot of people can relate to.

It’s why the multi-billion dollar weight loss industry churns out hundreds of diet books each year. Every January, millions of Americans embark on a new weight loss journey with renewed hope and optimism that this will be the year! 108 million of us in 2015, to be exact. We’ll eat anything that promises a drop on the scale.

It’s why girls in New York spend half their paychecks on exercise classes and Juice press. First there was Zumba and pilates, then came Crossfit and Soul Cycle. There’s even a bootcamp to replicate prison-style workouts now. We’re infatuated with “what’s next” in the world of boutique fitness.

It’s why diets don’t work.

When we start and then inevitably fail each new regimen for the sole purpose of losing weight, we’re actually more likely to gain weight. We fall into a trap of obsessive thoughts, coupled with anxiety around food and fitness, that leads to depression and ultimately, weight gain.

And, Bonus! We also burn less energy and end up fighting against our body’s set point (the weight at which our brains regulate for stability). This is not only counterproductive, but psychologically damaging.

So, if we shouldn’t diet, and trendy exercise classes are not exactly adding up to real weight loss, then what’s a girl to do?

Well for starters, we can give up the struggle.

Once we accepted that strict protocols don’t work, and started eating and moving in ways that felt good instead, both Dana and I found some real answers. Weight loss isn’t a plan you have to start and finish (and feel guilty about along the way).

And since then we’ve done a lot of research to try to wade through all the information out there and tackle this question. You can read the short answer here. Hint: give up the constant struggle and start reducing insulin. Oh and don’t forget about those pesky genetics.

And if you’d like to dig a little deeper, we’re plugging away at a brand new course to simplify the approach to weight loss. Get this snazzy little guide in your inbox as soon as it’s ready by popping your email in the box below and in the meantime, we’ll send you our quick 3-day, food-based reset.

Shiny new diets coming from every direction, with their promises for a slimmer figure, toned arms and a six pack of abs are enticing. But don’t you think if they worked, we’d all be skinny by now?

Weight loss is not about “following through” or sticking to a plan. It’s about trading in diets in favor of habits and behaviors that can help us adopt a healthy lifestyle and shed the pounds for good.

Also published on Medium.

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