Feel Like Quitting Your Healthy Diet? Read This First

Article posted in: Lifestyle

You may have heard that it takes three weeks to form a new habit, like a healthy diet. So if you’re trying to lose weight, give it just 21 days. This conventional wisdom says you’ll morph from a willpower-lacking hopeful dieter into a weight-crushing, never-wavering discipline machine.

But if you’ve ever tried to lose weight before, you know that even after three weeks , there are failings, falterings and temptations to quit all around. Making a real, lasting change takes longer and science backs it up: In a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Psychology, scientists found that it took as many as 254 days for new habits to form, with the average participant making the habit stick after 66 days—more than two months. For some participants, it took more than eight months!

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So if you’re tempted to quit, you’re probably still on your way to forming those new habits—and you may need some motivation to help reinvigorate you on your way to success. If quitting seems easier, don’t do it! Read this first:

1. Fill your mind with the reasons you want to succeed.
Everywhere you go, there are images and messages telling you to quit. Ads for candy, deals on gut-busting burgers, and other messages telling you to grab short-term pleasure instead of long-term satisfaction surround you, distracting you from the reasons you were motivated to start this journey.

Tip the scales in your favor. Make a long list of the reasons you want to succeed in your weight loss quest: The things you’ll do, the emotions you’ll experience, the energy you’ll have, and the satisfaction you’ll feel of having achieved your goals when it was so easy to quit. Include inspiring photographs or images and things that make you excited to succeed. Review the list each day to create morning resolve, and keep it in your pocket or on your phone. That way, whenever you feel the temptation to quit, you can review your list to renew your focus.

If you choose inspirational images, make sure they’re realistic: In a Dutch study, dieters who looked at inspirational images of models who were too thin performed more “goal-inconsistent” behaviors than those who gazed at normal-sized models. Another study from the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases found that unrealistic weight loss goals often sabotaged results. So if you’re looking for inspiration, look to real-world people. Or choose a piece of clothing you’re hoping to wear as you reach your goals, and hang it where you can see it in your bedroom.

Need a reminder of all the great reasons you should get to a healthy weight? Here are 10 reasons to lose just 10 pounds! Need a little inspiration on your journey? Check out these 27 Motivational Quotes.

2. Find others who have had the same struggles, and model them.
Finding weight loss role models can not only inspire you to start, but it can also keep you gong when you’re struggling. No matter your struggle, someone has been there before—which means the hard work of finding a solution has already been done by someone else. Joining Nutrisystem is joining a network. Read the stories of people who lost weight and kept it off, like all of our inspirational success stories at The Leaf. Some of them felt like quitting, too. But they found success and so can you! Read their stories and you can learn strategies they used to keep going.

Then take advantage of free coaching from the Weight Loss Coaches at Nutrisystem to learn even more. You’ll learn new strategies to stay on track with your healthy diet, as well as something even more important: You’re not alone, and never have to be.

3. Instead of beating yourself up, celebrate yourself.
Often, new dieters are so focused on being perfect, that a small slip-up here or a missed workout there feels like a full-blown fall off the weight loss wagon. And for many, that feeling of failure is enough to throw in the towel. But stressing over slip-ups not only makes you unhappy, it also makes weight loss harder… In a study from Ohio State, participants who were stressed burned 100 fewer calories in the hours after a meal than those who identified as stress-free.

So instead of stressing out, sabotaging your weight loss, and fostering bad vibes that will only hasten you to quit, find a reason to celebrate yourself. If you’ve had a slip-up that made you want to quit, you’re noticing it for a reason: slipping up isn’t normal anymore. You’ve been making changes and doing the right things. Otherwise, you wouldn’t feel the need to beat yourself up in the first place.

Before you make a final decision to give up on your program, find reasons to congratulate yourself. Remember specific times that you made a great choice, and the feeling of success you had later. Make a mental—or written—note of how you’ve felt or seen your body, mood or energy change for the better since launching your healthy diet plan. Remember that even the most successful people don’t make the right decisions every time. Many weight loss experts recommend a rule of 90-10 or 80-20—that is, if you’re sticking to your plan 80 to 90 percent of the time, you’re doing well and will see results. If you’re on that trajectory, or close to it, commend yourself. Once you’ve remembered the good things you’ve done and experienced so far, you’ll be less likely to throw it all away.

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4. Put a win on the board right now.
Don’t just set goals, identify an action you will take to move you toward that goal. Signing up for Nutrisystem is a great start (if you haven’t yet and are going at it alone, get started here >). Sure, you want to eat better. And who doesn’t want to shed a few pounds? But achieving these goals takes more than just wishing and hoping.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by goals that feel unattainable, tackle one small task that will help get you closer. Cut up some carrots to have on hand as a healthy snack later in the day. Plan what you’ll eat for dinner each night this week. Go for a 10-minute walk. Do something that creates a positive feeling and sense of accomplishment toward your weight loss goal. Then do it again the next time you start to feel your discipline waning.