Scared of failing weight loss? Scared of failing another diet? Good news! You're normal! The majority of my clients tell me they fear failure when it comes to weight loss.
They have failed at so many fad diets that for many of them they feel scared they will never reach their goals.
The one thing we know about human psychology is that humans prefer the misery of comfort to the misery of discomfort and the discomfort of the unknown. So, often people will want to change their situation but do nothing to help themselves and stay stuck.
If you are in the camp of the majority of my clients, women over 35, I want you to ask yourself why are you scared of being healthy? Why are you scared of going on a walk?
Why are you scared of adding nutrients to your current meals? Why are you scared of strength training? Why are you scared of eating lean protein?
What most women don't realize is that the way they have been going about losing weight in the past was through fad dieting.
Starving themselves with a very restrictive, low-calorie diet and then believing they should have succeeded starving themselves until the day they die.
Or doing a restrictive diet that severely restricted the types of foods they ate and believing they should have succeeded at severely restricting themselves until the day they die.
My clients have never realize how this belief system of thinking they should have succeeded doing something highly restrictive is at the root of their fear of failure.
When they begin to see how unrealistic this standard is that they're holding themselves to and how their approach to weight loss via fad dieting was setting them up to fail from the beginning, they realize their fear of failing at weight loss is not a real fear.
I wish more women understood that losing weight means adopting healthier habits. It means looking at what you currently eat and figuring out how you can make it healthier.
Becoming a healthier version of yourself does not mean eating like a perfectly, healthy clean eater 100% of the time and I commonly see women over 35 in my nutrition practice who believe this is what it means.
If you believe you have to be a perfectly clean eater 100% of the time and that being healthy and losing weight means being miserable, then your approach to weight loss is wrong.
Of course no one wants to do things that feel miserable!
So most people's fear is based on unrealistic expectations of what it means to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle.
In this podcast episode, I share more about the fearing failure in weight loss and the two most common reasons I see with my clients that creates this fear for them.
The good news is the fear of failing another diet is not real. It's just an emotion and where your holding yourself to unrealistic expectations or comparing yourself to being successful with a fad diet you are able to move beyond this fear!
Listen to this Dish On Ditching Diets podcast episode to learn more about your fear of failing weight loss and how to move past it!
In this Dish on Ditching Diets Podcast Episode, You Will Hear:
- Why Fad Dieting Perpetuates Fear Of Failure
- Why You Are Scared Of Being Healthy, Going On A Walk, Adding Nutrition To Meals, etc.
- Why People Prefer The Misery Of Comfort To The Discomfort Of The Unknown
- Two Common Reasons Women Fear Failing At Weight loss
- How Your Expectation That You Should Have Succeeded Starving Yourself Is A Bad Expectation
- How Your Expectation That You Should Have Succeeded Cutting Out Foods You Enjoy Is A Terrible Expectation
- How It Is Normal To Overeat Sometimes
- How Equating Weight Loss To Misery and Suffering Guarantee You will Fail
- How Setting Unrealistic Standards For Yourself Will Cause You To Fail
- Why What You Think It Takes To Lose Weight & Be Healthy Needs To Change
Related Dish On Ditching Diets Podcast Episodes
- Restricting Food Guarantees Overeating
- Fix Your Hormones
- All Or Nothing Thinking
- What REALLY Causes Weight Gain
Scared Of Failing Weight Loss Podcast Show Notes
Hello Friends! We’ve got a great topic to talk about today – this is something I hear from clients all of the time. I’m scared I’m going to fail another diet. I’m scared of failing. Have you said this?
I’m sure you have because I hear it all the time from women and we’re going to unpack this today and learn why this is stinky thinking and how to overcome your doubt about losing weight.
But first, I want to ask you if you’ve been enjoying the podcast can you please take a moment to leave it a 5-star review in Apple podcast or Spotify? Reviews really help.
I see in the analytics thousands of people listening to the podcast and I get messages from women all the time saying how helpful it is to them, but there’s only like 60 reviews.
This year I want that to be 600 5-star reviews and I want you to be a part of that! So, pause the podcast, go give it a 5-start review before you forget. Thank you so much guys!
Okay, so let’s talk about this fear of failing another diet thing you all have. For those of you who haven’t worked with me, I do a lot of mindset work with clients because your behavior with food stems from your mindset, or your psychology, and how you think about things.
I can tell women all day long how to eat, how much to eat, show them how much protein to eat and how to do it but they won’t do it if they don’t actually believe in themselves, don’t believe they can change or they’re scared of failing.
I hear this all the time – I’m so scared of failing another diet. And what is so fascinating about this is women are generally so scared of failing that they do nothing.
They take NO ACTION. They don’t walk every day, they don’t strength train, they don’t pay attention to how they are balancing their plates, they don’t pay attention to protein or fiber. They do nothing. There’s inaction.
Nothing to take care of their health because they are afraid of failing. It sounds crazy right? Like why would someone not walk, it sounds so simple!
The interesting thing known about human psychology is humans prefer comfort versus the unknown which means humans will stay stuck in the comfort of misery because their fear of change of change is too great.
So, they will stay stuck and miserable with their health and weight and won’t get the help they need or invest in coaching, because their current misery is known.
They know that pain and they know what to expect and the truth is most of you are not critically ill and you’re not in the hospital and it’s not a life-or-death situation for you to get your health and weight under control.
A lot of people stay stuck because they prefer the comfort of misery to the discomfort of the unknown.
So, my question for you is why are you scared of being healthy? I always ask clients this why are you scared of getting healthy?
Because when you say you’re scared of failing another diet what you’re really saying is I’m scared of being healthy.
I’m scared of walking, scared of strength training, scared of learning how to balance my plate properly, scared of eating lean protein, fiber, scared of eating fruits and vegetables, scared of learning what foods are lean protein and fiber.
You are saying you’re scared of those things. Why are you scared of those things?
You’re telling me you want to get healthy, and it would mean so much to you to have this figured out, yet you’re also saying you’re scared of being healthy. Why?
There are two reasons for this that I typically see with my clients.
One is you’re scared because you’ve done all these ridiculous, restrictive diets and now you’re sitting around thinking that’s what you have to do to lose weight.
You actually think those crazy diets are the way to losing weight.
You also think about how you should have succeeded at those crazy, restrictive diets.
You did an 800-calorie diet and were starving, or you cut out all your carbs and ate foods that made you feel miserable and made you feel left out when you went out to eat or your family had pizza night and now you’re sitting there thinking in your mind like I should have succeeded doing that.
What’s wrong with me that I just couldn’t keep eating 800-calories and starved myself until the day I died. What’s wrong with me that I just couldn’t cut carbs and eat foods that made me feel miserable until the day I died. I should be able to do those things.
And now you’re like OMG I’m scared of failing again! Because your brain doesn’t want to do that again. That stuff sucked and it was miserable!
My dear, think about what I just said. No one could succeed doing those things! Yet you’re sitting around telling yourself in the back of your mind - I should have succeeded doing that. I should have been able to do that 800-calorie diet and starve myself forever.
I should be able to cut out all the carbs, cut out all the bad foods and just ate like a miserable human the rest of my life. I don’t understand why I just couldn’t do it.
That’s what you’re telling yourself!
Does that even make sense?
Now that I’m saying this out loud does this even make sense to you.
I mean this is a huge part of what is behind your fear of failing. You having this ridiculous, crazy unrealistic expectation of yourself playing in the back of your mind that somehow you should have succeeded doing those things.
Diet approaches that aren’t normal. Diet approaches that aren’t healthy. I have a degree in nutrition. I’m telling you these fad diets many of you have done are not healthy and are definitely not how we lose weight.
That’s not how we’re supposed to get healthy and lose weight.
We lose weight by changing our habits gradually over time with some easy guidelines like getting sufficient protein and fiber and moving our bodies.
We change our habits by looking at what we currently eat and asking ourselves how we can make it slightly better.
It's really scary how many women over 35 actually believe that these crazy, restrictive diets is how you’re supposed to lose weight and they actually think they’re a failure because they couldn’t do those miserable, restrictive things for the rest of their life.
Are you kidding me?
If you’re scared of failing, you really need to take a step back and look at the diets you’ve done in the past to lose weight. Did those diets teach you to create new healthy habits you can repeat until the day you die?
Did those diets teach you proper nutrition and healthy eating? Did those diets teach how how to lose fat or lose weight? Did those diets teach you how to look at what you currently eat and how to modify it to make it slightly healthier?
Or did those diets simply teach you how to cut out a bunch of foods and meals and how to eat like a clean eating robot?
I’m guessing the later.
You can’t stop being afraid of failing until you recognize how abnormal those weight loss programs were that you did before and how they set you up to fail from the start.
The work I do with clients is teaching them healthy habits they can repeat until the day they die and proper nutrition that align with the goal of fat loss.
I teach my clients how to fit in pizza, burgers, what to do when they travel or go out to a restaurant, how to eat like a normal person during the holidays.
You have to recognize how abnormal those weight loss approaches you did really were because if you don’t recognize that you will always think you should have succeeded doing that and you will always feel like you failed.
I don’t know anyone who is going to cut all their carbs the rest of their life or do an 800-calorie diet and starve themselves the rest of their life or buy pre-packaged food the rest of their life. Do you?
I think WW is the only thing out there that promotes healthy habits, but my issue with WW is their point system and how few points they prescribe to people.
I mean why do we have to come up with a fancy way of counting calories? That’s all their point system is. Food labels have calories. You look at the back of a food label it has protein, fat, carbs and calories. It doesn’t say WW points.
No one is going to count WW points the rest of their lives. Just count calories. Why are we overcomplicating things?
The fact that they prescribe so few points to people is also a big concern of mine.
Those things aside, if you want to lose weight forever, you have to change your mindset about weight loss.
Weight loss is not about cutting out all the bad foods or foods you think you shouldn’t be eating. Remember I talked about in episode how restricting guarantees you will binge.
Many of my clients feel out of control around these “bad” foods and then they get around them they’re overeating them.
They’re overeating them because they keep practice restriction. You will find the less you restrict, the less control these foods have over you.
So, this is the first thing I always see with clients who are scared of failing. They believe these diets are normal for losing weight.
They actually think they should have been able to starve themselves forever or cut out food groups or specific foods forever and they’re beating themselves up in their minds for not having been able to do those things forever.
And because they believe those things, they’re scared of failing. They never step back to think rationally like is this even normal? Does this even make sense?
Like if I were explaining to a child how to be healthier, would I tell that child they should eat 800-calories and that they should never eat bananas or apples because carbs are bad or would I tell that child to incorporate healthier foods in their die, to swap out certain ingredients in meals to make them slightly healthier and encourage them to move more?
Think about this. Most of you are sitting around beating yourself to a pulp for not having been successful with something that taught you nothing about long-term health and only taught you to restrict.
Your belief that you should have succeeded at that thing has to change. You have to see how silly that belief really is.
The second thing I see with clients is when they eat something they “think” they shouldn’t have eaten and then they think they failed.
I see this all the time with clients – they’re like OMG last night I ate pizza. I failed. I mean seriously? You ate pizza – is your expectation really that you should never eat pizza and you will never eat pizza until the day you die?
Do you really think healthy people like me who’ve lost a lot of weight and have kept it off for over a decade never eat pizza?
Is that really what you think people who’ve lost weight have done? They just never eat pizza! I will say a lot of people think they should stop eating pizza so they can lose weight as quickly as possible and then they think they’ll magically figure out how to eat weight loss.
This is the jumpstart mindset. I’m going to jumpstart my weight loss and THEN I’ll figure out how to eat all foods in balance, but that never happens.
You have to slow down and work on eating pizza while you’re losing weight from the start. That jumpstart mindset is a terrible mindset and does not set you up for establishing healthy habits around food.
I want you to really think about this though. Do you really think people like me who’ve lost weight that we just cut everything out that was “bad” and we just never eat it again? No!
That’s miserable – it’s no wonder you’re scared of failing. No one would want to do that long-term.
That’s simply not what people like me who’ve lost a lot of weight (I’ve lost 80 lbs) and have kept it off – that is simply not how we’ve done it.
It starts with dropping the mindset that somehow, it’s wrong to eat pizza if you’re trying to lose some weight.
If you keep telling yourself it’s wrong, you will always overeat the food you think is wrong behind your own back and then feel guilty because you ate it and then eat even more because you think you failed.
Part of the weight loss process is learning. You have to learn how to eat all foods and not judge yourself and beat yourself up for eating things that aren’t that nutritious.
Unless you plan to never eat those things ever again until the day you die, cut them out otherwise you have to stop approaching weight loss this way.
If you like pizza, you have to learn how to eat pizza and balance it in your diet. If you like ice cream, chips, hamburgers and fries and cookies, you have to learn how to eat those foods and balance them in your diet.
And eat them without feeling guilty or throwing yourself off plan because you think you shouldn’t have eaten them and that you were a failure for eating them.
The problem I see with some women is they don’t want to accept that they have to learn. They just want someone to hand them a plan and not have to think or learn anything new. It doesn’t work that way.
You have to learn. You have to learn proper nutrition, which they don’t teach us in schools by the way. And if you have years of chronic dieting under your belt, you will also have to unlearn all the diet nonsense you’ve collected along the way.
This mindset of thinking I failed is always best highlighted during the holidays. This is why many people start in January with a restrictive diet because they think they have to get themselves under control after what they think they shouldn’t have eaten over the holidays.
This leads them into the cycle of restricting food then overeating food and then round and round they go on the merry-go-round of restricting and overeating.
Maybe what you did over the holidays was normal. Did you ever think that maybe it’s normal to not eat perfectly healthy over the holidays?
Do you think I ate perfectly clean and ate nothing unhealthy? It’s your unrealistic expectation you have for yourself that you somehow should have been those things that is the problem.
Your unrealistic expectation is the problem, and your own unrealistic expectation is what makes you so scared of failing.
Do you know how many of my clients were perfect during the holidays? ZERO. And I didn’t expect them to be.
All my clients showed up in January to their coaching calls telling me how they just jumped back into their routine and how great they felt not having to feel like they needed to find a diet to start in January.
I had one of my clients tell me a few weeks ago how terrible she felt because she overate and overdrank one night.
She was stressed with work and feeling bad about herself, and she even said to me how she was scared if she could lose this weight after this one night of overindulging. Do you know what my response was to her?
That it’s normal to overeat sometimes. Did you hear what I said? Sometimes it’s normal to overeat. It’s normal to overeat sometimes.
Those of you who have the expectation that you should never overeat have the wrong expectation.
Do you really think I never overeat? I overate popcorn the other night. So what? It’s just popcorn.
What many women don’t realize is that when you have these unrealistic expectations for yourself like why did I overeat this thing last night - what immediately happens in your brain is I’ll never be able to lose weight and then you get scared you’re going to fail.
Your brain literally puts you in the dooter with that thinking.
Do you know how many clients I’ve seen throughout the years who’ve done this and then quit because they’re so fearful they’re going to fail? A lot!
They would rather quit then feel like a failure. But what I’m telling you it that ONE DAY of overeating is NOT A FAILURE.
There are 365 days in a year. It’s what you do most of the time that matters, not ONE DAY.
Imagine if your child had gotten a D on a homework assignment. Does that one D mean that the child is going to fail that class if most of the time they’re getting B’s and C’s? No!
They’re not going to fail. It’s about the average. Most of you this is the problem – you’re not looking at your weight loss this way. You get mad at yourself for not being perfect all of the time. Stop that!
If you think perfect is what it takes to be healthy, then it’s no wonder why you’re scared of being healthy. No one would want to do that!
No one could live up to that expectation! You’re holding yourself to a crazy standard that no one could ever achieve.
If you overeat one day, it’s what you make it mean. If you make it mean that you can never lose weight or that you’re not good enough, it’s going to take so long, you’re so out of control or something negative like then you are scaring yourself with your own negative thinking.
What’s really scary is the majority of clients I’ve seen throughout the years don’t even realize they’re doing this to themselves!
They would never think of placing these high expectations on their kids or friends, but they do it to themselves and what’s scarier is they think it’s helping them.
They think it’s if they don’t place these high expectations on themselves that they should eat perfectly healthy or they will be out of control, but the very thing causing them to be out of control are the unrealistic expectations and their unrealistic expectations are causing them to fear failing.
It’s giving them the opposite of what they actually want!
I’ve seen some clients do some really stupid things with their health and their diet because they thought they screwed some up or weren’t perfect enough and instead of just jumping right back into the plan or figuring out how to adjust the plan to make it more realistic, they spiral out of control and their mind is what causes the spiral.
Not the food, not the program, not the plan, not the coach. Their mind!
You freak out because you think you screwed up. The only thing that’s screwed up are your unrealistic expectations of yourself.
If you have an expectation that you should always follow your diet perfectly and you should just eat like a robot who only eats perfectly clean foods and you should never fall off plan, then you will always feel like a failure and you will always be failing.
Did you hear that? You will always feel like a failure and always be failing which means if you want to stop that cycle you have to change how you look at things.
This expectation you have of yourself that you should always be perfect is a bad expectation. Because no one can be perfect! Not even me!
The question I asked you earlier was why are you scared of being healthier? Do you see why now?
You’re scared of being healthy, scared of daily walking, scared of adding fruits and veggies to your meals and eating more protein because you’re scared you won’t be perfect but perfect is not achievable.
There is no perfect, there’s more consistent. It’s not what you do one day or even one week. It’s what you do most of the time.
It’s your own cruddy expectations of yourself that are causing you to feel like you failed. Most of you have learned proper nutrition. They don’t teach proper nutrition in schools. Yet you still think you should just know how to do it?
You’ve been socialized by diet culture and probably raised in a family with some parental figure that was chronically dieting plus you learned from all these crummy diets you’ve done that the only way to lose weight is to cut foods out.
Cut out everything you like. All you learned was how to restrict and now you have a disordered relationship with food, you’re scared of eating certain foods, you’re scared of eating more calories, you binge on foods you think you shouldn’t eat and feel bad about yourself, are obsessed with the scale and scared of failing.
Your fear of failure is based on unrealistic expectations and diets that taught you nothing but restriction.
But yet your expectation is you should know how to do this, and you should be perfect. Does that thinking even make sense? No! It’s doesn’t.
Doubts and fear do not help you lose weight.
Today you have all kinds of insights about this, and it will all make sense to you, but then tomorrow, your brain will offer up doubts and fears first even though you just learned from me today that that doesn’t help you.
Thinking you’ll never lose weight never helps you. You get frustrated because you’re like I know I should think better about myself, but I’m not. Then you think there’s a problem.
There’s no a problem. Your brain just hasn’t had enough reps yet thinking in a new way. It takes a while before your brain shifts.
So many people think weight loss is about what you eat. Just because your brain keeps thinking negatively about you doesn’t mean you have to believe it.
What my clients learn is that it’s not about recipes, it’s not about meal prep, it’s not about macros or calories, fasting or can I eat a carb at night?
None of that is really important because when you are focused on that stuff what you miss out on all the thinking that makes it really hard to follow and diet plan you find on the internet.
How many diets have you started and the beginning it’s exciting and you’re doing all the things and then there comes a day when you’re like I don’t know if this is going to work, this seems really hard.
You know what makes it hard? When you let your doubts about yourself run wild.
If every time you’re eat and you’re tracking your food, if every single time you do your healthy habits and right before it you’re terrified it won’t work and your brain is doubting then guess what?
You’re going to want to quit. Who wants to do things that drive fear, doubt, and terror? No one wants to do that!
That’s why a lot of people go back to their old habits or quit and regain all their weight. Because their doubts and fears creep in and they have no mindset help with whatever food plan they’re following.
The biggest thing you must do with your old thinking - this isn’t going to be enough, I’ve never been able to do it before, I don’t know how much longer I can do this…
Before you try to change your thinking, you have to first be aware that this is what you’re thinking. Some of you go through the day and those thoughts are running on repeat in your brain and you don’t even realize it.
Some of you will argue with me and say but I have never been able to lose weight, or I’ve always gained the weight back. I can count the 800 diets that I failed at. I can make a case for me being a loser.
You have to learn how to quit arguing for you being a loser.
You have to quit battling for failure. Most women are doing that and trying to lose weight. They’re wondering why’s weight loss so hard? Why am I constantly overeating? Why’s it hard to stick to what I say I’m going to do?
While in the back of your mind you’re constantly telling yourself how you’re not good enough and it won’t work and here’s why it won’t work. Here’s all the things that you failed at.
That’s what makes weight loss hard!
I don’t care how much you don’t believe in yourself. I just want you to see how much you’re fighting for failure, how much you’re fighting for you being a loser.
What if you told yourself maybe I’m wrong. What if it works out?!?
Do you think doing all the things would be hard if you had a more hopeful conversation with yourself vs. saying there’s no way you can lose weight.
This will never work. You’ve tried things that gave you freedom and you never stuck with it.
It’s that internal conversation that’s what makes it very hard. That’s what causes you to give up.
If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you’ve heard my clients on here talking about their experience.
All a different variety of jobs, ages, menopause, no menopause, 10 kids, no kids.
Why do you think so many different women with so many different backgrounds can lose weight?
Because they have one thing in common. They have a brain.
When you work on changing the conversation in your brain. Before you can change anything, you have to know how you’re talking to yourself.
You can’t change what you’re not aware of. You have to know how you talk to yourself every single day.
If you’re someone who’s hard on yourself or a perfectionist, when you start paying attention to your thinking, you’re going to be like OMG I can’t believe I’m thinking this, I shouldn’t be thinking this.
You’ll start being hard on yourself over your own thinking.
Remember I said diets fail because they don’t teach us proper nutrition and habits we can repeat until the day we diet, but diets also fail because they don’t teach us the real problem in weight loss which is how we talk to ourselves.
I’ve never met a weight loss success story who didn’t improve their mindset and self-talk.
And this why I continue to preach on this podcast that your mindset is the biggest hurdle to you getting everything you want. I get questions from women all the time asking me what to eat to lose weight or for a food plan.
A food plan or knowing what to eat doesn’t fix this because your mindset is the real problem and once you realize how unrealistic your own expectations are of yourself and that you don’t lose weight and get healthier by just cutting things out that’s when real change happens.
You stop being so hard on yourself and you start realizing that sometimes it's normal to overeat or it’s normal not to be perfect during the holidays, as an example.
Once that mindset changes, everything changes, and you’re no longer scared of failing. But these are the 2 most common reasons I see why my clients fear failing another diet.
Now that we’ve talked through this – hopefully you see how skewed your fear of failing is.
How your fear is not even realistic and how your fear is rooted in your own negative thinking of yourself and negative interpretation of things. Once you realize this, everything changes.
Like I said, healthy people like me who’ve lost a lot of weight and have kept it off are not perfect. We didn’t lose weight by cutting out all the bad foods, starving ourselves and we didn’t hold ourselves to these high standards.
It’s normal to overeat sometimes. It’s normal to eat things that aren’t as nutritious sometimes. Once you shift your mindset around these things, you will notice your consistency will greatly increase and you’ll actually be able to sustain a lifestyle vs. being on and off a restrictive diet all the time and constantly being on the search for what to eat and a new diet plan.
I know how amazing you will feel when you do this! I see this with clients all the time. It becomes much easier to execute the basic habits of health and weight loss I mentioned earlier – daily walking, strength training, eating balanced meals and adding protein and fiber, getting into a slight calorie deficit.
Those habits become so much easier when you’re no longer thinking so terribly about yourself and holding yourself to the expectation that you should have succeed at starving yourself and cutting out foods until the day you die.
Remember if you can’t do it until the day you die, you are guaranteed to gain the weight back.
Does this make sense? Now that we’ve talked through this are you still scared of being healthy?
Are you still scared of failing? I hope you’re seeing that’s not something to be scared of, it’s something that will empower you, but it will take - you slowing down and learning things you haven’t learned yet and also, unlearning old mindsets and habits you’ve learned from the fad diets you’ve done.
I hope today’s podcast was helpful for you. I’ll talk to you soon.