If you started a diet full of hope and gusto but are now picking up the pieces, you may feel like you failed.
So let me be clear: You didn’t fail. The diet failed you.
Most of the hottest diets are simply too much: Too restrictive, too low in calories, too joyless, too expensive, too inconvenient.
Yes, you really did feel great at first. It’s what’s known as the Honeymoon Effect, when you’re excited about the diet and the changes you’re seeing. And yes, you really did experience a scale shift. A quick weight drop is typically because of lost water weight, which is especially likely if you were drastically cutting carbohydrates.
But here’s the truth: Most diets don’t work in the long term because they’re not designed to. Giving up pasta forever? Recording your meals every single day? Not eating after 7pm? Those things are doable for a few weeks, but you invariably hit a wall. You miss bread. You’re tired of logging every bite on your phone app. You’re just hungry. All. The. Time.
So what’s next? Here are four things to do right now:
Understand that it’s not your issue. The problem isn’t you, it’s the diet. Make that your mantra when you’re feeling defeated. Really believe it.
Pinpoint what didn’t work. Was there simply not enough food to sustain you? Were the meal plans full of foods you just don’t like very much? Did it require so much prep that you felt stuck in the kitchen? Did you end up feeling isolated from family dinners? Those things don’t make you a failure—they make the diet incompatible with your life.
Salvage something that did. Did you find a great fish recipe? Discover that you actually like green smoothies? Realize that you don’t need a late-night snack every evening after all? Even if that diet wasn’t good for you in the long run, there might be a few healthy habits you can take away from it.
Use what you learned. Every experience teaches us something. Maybe you learned that you don’t want to stop eating grains forever, that writing down everything you eat triggers obsessive thinking, or that you just don’t like meat enough to follow a very high-protein diet. Take what you learned from your diet attempt and move forward, wiser and knowing yourself a little bit better. Then the next time a diet comes around and you’re lured in by big promises and dramatic testimonials, you can draw from this experience to make a better decision for YOU.