Diets Don't Work: Five classic weight loss blunders

Our Diets don't work blog is by Ascot-based personal trainer Adam Atkinson. He offers health and fitness advice on our websites.

Adam Atkinson

Diets Don't Work: Five classic weight loss blunders

Studies show us that over 90 per cent of people on a diet fail to lose weight permanently. Logic dictates that if all attempts to lose weight were successful, then eventually everyone would be a happy, fit weight, and dieting or trying for weight loss would be consigned to history.

So why do our attempts to lose weight fail so often? Having been in the personal training business for over 13 years, at Diets Don’t Work PT we’ve seen pretty much every method of weight loss attempted…and then been brought in to clean up the mess! Here are the most common reasons that people fail in their attempts to lose weight:

1 – Going all in. Those whose enthusiasm has overtaken their application fail. Eating fewer calories daily while cutting out all bread plus doing an hour of exercise a day while stopping caffeine might sound good, but attempting to do these all at once will lead to failure. Weight loss needs to be done in a step-by-step way. Achievable goals are the key, with a long-term plan. So try to hit just one simple target in the first few weeks – cutting out bread and drinking more water, for example.

2 – Expecting instant results. Heat magazine and Grazia would have us believe that we can undo years of weight gain in just a few weeks of the latest 'wonder diet'. But we are designed in a way that makes fast weight loss counter productive. Go too far too soon and really bad things happen – loss of lean muscle mass, lowering of the metabolic rate and weakening of the heart muscle are just a few of the negative side effects.

3 – Weighing too often. Weight is a funny thing. You might have had the best eating week ever, then get on the scales only to see a slight gain. We are not machines, so are not governed purely by the law of 'energy in versus energy out' (although this is still the most important factor). We are instead humans, with complex chemical systems (hormones), genetic inheritance and differing metabolic rates. So weight can fluctuate a bit regardless of eating. The classic mistake is to take a surprisingly poor weight result one week personally, allowing it to derail your efforts. Even a week in weight terms is a small amount of time. As we say to our personal training clients, a week or two is a blip, any longer is a trend. Blips are to be taken in your stride. Trends need addressing though. So only weigh once a week, on the same scales, at the same time of day, in the same clothes. Any variance on these can affect the result and not give a true reading.

4 – Believing you can’t do it. Although genetics can play a part, as do hormones, age sex and so on, ANYONE can lose weight. Those that say 'I’ve tried and tried and just can’t lose weight' are mistaken. Those that say 'I hardly eat anything and just don’t lose weight' are mistaken. They just haven’t gone about it the correct way. YOU can lose weight You can. Honest. It might take some application, or even some professional help, but if any human went to a prison camp on limited rations they would get thin. We’re not suggesting that, but it’s just a case study to prove a point. It’s easier than prison camp.

5 – Working only on one side of the equation. The maths: two pounds of fat = 3,500 calories. This is 500 calories a day. So if you consume 500 calories a day less than you need you will lose 2 pounds. But eating that much less will certainly take a bit of effort. Instead of this one sided approach, you could tackle the other side of the equation at the same time. So you could burn 200 calories with a bit of structured exercise. You could then get another 100 by walking to the station, using a basket not a trolley (at the supermarket) and taking the stairs. Now you only have to eat 200 calories less a day. Easy!

So take these points in. Apply them. But remember it’s much more likely to work if you enlist professional help…in the form of a personal trainer, friend, hypnotherapist, nutritionist…whatever you need to make it happen. .

Adam Atkinson

07830 148300/0800 0407526

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