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10 Reasons Your Diet's Not Working

Why you're sabotaging your weight loss plan and how to get back on track
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Totie Fields, American comedienne, said, "I've been on a diet for two weeks and all I've lost is fourteen days." Diets work when they're followed, but many believe they're on a diet, then continue to have behaviors, practices, relationships, and feelings that are sabotaging their best intentions. Take a look at the list of ten things that could be undermining your diet.

  1. Drinking Your Calories

    With the exception of an ice-cream shake, it's easy to overlook how many calories are contained in beverages. All that half and half and sugar in a bottomless cup of Joe quickly adds up. An innocent looking eight-ounce glass of apple juice is packed with 26 grams of sugar and very few people drink only eight ounces. The obvious negative effect of drinking alcohol is the calories. The other is the fact that when you're intoxicated, your ability to make good food choices gets impaired. This can't be solved by using artificial sweeteners. There's a reason why the overweight girl drinking a Diet Coke is still overweight: artificial sweeteners have been shown to make you gain weight, not lose it. Tip: Stick to water and unsweetened herbal teas.

  2. Night or Weekend Eating

    A day of dieting can seem to go great and then it gets dark outside and all bets are off. Many night-eaters don't realize that they're doubling their calories after dinner. The same thing goes for the weekend. Some can adhere to a diet within the structure of the work or school week but letting it all hang out on the weekend has little to do with relaxing and more to do with overindulging. Tip: Become aware of your eating patterns at night and on the weekend.

  3. Making Food Equal Love

    Following a diet can be simple when distracted by a fulfilling love affair or while hoping to attract a new partner. However, notice what happens when your feelings get hurt or when you're rejected or disappointed. If food is your balm during these moments you may unconsciously sneak in sweets or second helpings. Tip: Give yourself the love and validation you're seeking from a mate.

  4. Emptiness

    Food is filling and can therefore deceive you into believing you are fulfilled. However, food can never alleviate the feeling of emotional emptiness. The sooner this fact is realized the more successful your diet will be. Tip: Adopt a spiritual practice or do some volunteer work.

  5. Exercising Too Little

    It's a mathematical equation. In order to lose weight more calories need to be burned than consumed. If you're following a diet and still not losing weight, exercise more. Tip: Talk on the go. A forty-minute chat with a friend goes by so quickly that you won't even realize you've just walked two miles and burned about 200 calories, all while catching up on last night's episode of Dexter.

  6. Fad Diets

    Fad diets are appropriately named. They are intended to be followed for a while and then forgotten about. Remember The Cabbage Soup Diet? I bet your friends do. If you find fad diets tempting you're likely to be looking for a magic formula rather than cultivating good 'ole healthy habits. Tip: Just say no to fad diets. They don't work.

  7. Overweight Friends

    Studies have shown that there are patterns of weight gain and weight loss within social circles. Having a community of overweight friends can be hurting your hard work. Overweight friends tend to encourage others' overeating for two reasons: social activities revolve around indulgences and they feel personally threatened by a peer's success. Tip: Foster friendships where being fit, and staying fit, is a shared value.

  8. Eating Off the Kid's Menu

    Following your diet might be going well but you're forgetting to factor in all the leftovers you unconsciously eat off your children's plates. Kids' food does have calories—even the crusts off PB & J sandwiches. Tip: Quickly wrap or toss the little ones' leftovers.

  9. A Pudgy Partner

    If your spouse is overweight it's easier to fall off the wagon. They're likely to keep unhealthy foods in the house or bring an extra snack to the couch at night while watching TV. Tip: The couple that eats well together, stays together.

  10. You Don't Want It To Work

    There are actually benefits to being overweight. There are fewer jealous people in your life. You're noticed less frequently. You don't have to put yourself out there as often. It can feel easier to get rejected for your weight than for who you really are. Tip: Look for the underlying fear of success you might have and what's causing it. Then, remember that extra weight is never a real solution, only a hiding place.

  11. Dieting success requires discipline, awareness, support, and self-respect. Adding those ingredients will make almost any diet effective. Use the list and tips above to finally get the results you've been craving.

    Michelle Fiordaliso, MSW, is a writer, single-mom, and psychotherapist who co-authored Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Ex, and has been featured as a relationship expert on Today, Tyra, and Oprah and Friends radio. "I help my clients see that every great relationship starts with a solid sense of yourself."
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