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"Dieting Again? Brace Yourself for Inevitable Failure"


At least that’s what we’ve been told.  But is that actually true?

A women attending a wedding

I’m sure you’ve heard it all before … diets don’t work … 95% of diets fail … you’ll regain more weight than you lose inevitable Dieting failure.

But most people don’t have a weight loss problem - they have a weight loss maintenance problem. 

Losing weight isn’t the hardest part and shouldn’t be the end goal. The chances are if you want to lose weight you’ve probably managed it before – but actually keeping it off is the hardest part, and maintaining your results should be the goal.

Studies have shown that more than half of the lost weight was regained within two years, and by five years more than 80% of lost weight was regained.

A Facebook memory recently reminded me it was exactly 10 years since I took part in my first obstacle race – and you may wonder why this is relevant. Well, the reason this was so significant to me was that my reason for signing up to that race was to mark exactly 1 year since I started my weight loss journey at the aged of 35 having been extremely overweight ever since I was a teenager.  I lost nearly half my bodyweight in that time and went from being classed as morbidly obese to sitting in a healthy bodyweight range.

And seeing this got me thinking.  There have obviously been some inevitable fluctuations in body weight in that time, this is completely normal, but my weight has consistently stayed in a healthy range in those 10 years. 

A woman about to lift a heavy barbell.

So what is the secret to long term maintenance and how have I maintained my results where so many fail?  (Spoiler alert – it’s not glucose monitoring)

Pretty much any diet will result in you losing weight in the short term if you follow the ‘rules’ – it doesn’t matter whether it’s intermittent fasting, keto, a slimming club, following a strict meal plan … they are all just a method of putting you in a calorie deficit. And these are all unlikely sustainable long term. When you reach your ‘goal’ (if you don’t give up before then), old habits inevitably slip back in, you revert back to eating the way you did previously and the weight eventually goes back on. 

And trust me, I’ve been there. I’d tried it all in the past, spending my 20’s and early 30’s going back and forth to slimming clubs, or following meals plans and detox diets.  So now when I see people on social media demonising specific food groups, or saying that fasting is the answer it infuriates me because I’ve been there, I know how hard it is and how desperate I was for a solution.  

But at the end of the day it all comes down to energy balance – it really is calories in versus calories out, and until I ditched the fad diets, started to develop a bit of an understanding about calories and truly changed my habits did I actually manage to achieve long term sustainable results.

I recently came across a systematic review of multiple weight loss studies which looked to determine the most common characteristics in those that had managed to obtain successful weight loss maintenance.  All of the most frequently reported characteristics were things I do myself, so I thought it useful to share those that came out on top:

Having a regular breakfast intake 

No this is not about ‘kicking starting your metabolism’ - that’s not a thing (I recall being told that by a PT many years ago).  But skipping breakfast can result in over-consuming and making poor choices later in the day due to hunger.  Research has consistently shown that consuming breakfast regularly is associated with lower BMI and lower levels of obesity risk.  So ignore anyone that tells you that fasting is the answer to weight loss.

(Personally, my breakfast of overnight oats is my favourite meal of the day)

Increased vegetable consumption 

They’re low calorie, high volume, and high fibre. Eating an abundance of fruit and vegetables means you’re more likely to consume less calories overall and feel fuller. (With the added bonus of all of the health benefits from the vitamins, minerals and fibre that come with them)

Increased Physical activity / exercise.

Whilst exercise will contribute to calorie expenditure it’s not actually a particularly large component. This is more about building a healthy lifestyle.  One health seeking behaviour is more likely to lead to others, and physical activity is positively associated with healthier eating habits.

Having healthy foods available at home (eg fruit and vegetables)

Create an environment for success.  It’s much easier to make better choices if you have healthy foods readily available.  

Reduced high sugar and high fat foods / Limit certain foods

Note the word LIMIT not exclude. No food should be demonised.

But high sugar and high fat foods are more calorie dense, hyper-palatable, and leave you wanting more; so they are very easy to over-consume.

‘Unconditional permission to eat’ was bit of a game-changer for me. Knowing there are no rules, and no food is off limits is freeing; but that also doesn’t mean eat anything you want whenever you want.  Chose your indulgences.  

If I said yes every time there were cakes, biscuits, or chocolates in the office I’d rapidly regain back all of the weight, and more. Rather than eat them just because they’re there, I’d rather have something I’m going to really enjoy (and that will most definitely include ice cream or chocolate every week!)

Embrace the process of long term change, and build healthy habits for life.

( I would like to take a moment to acknowledge and give full credit to Serena for her outstanding contribution to our blog. Her well-crafted post not only reflects the high standards of content we strive for at Devanney Strength but also reinforces our core ethos. We are dedicated to addressing eating habits with the aim of effecting long-term change, steering clear of the transient allure of 4-week fad diets that lead to a frustrating cycle of weight fluctuations.

This is an opportune moment to remind you that we are currently offering complimentary structured education on nutrition. This program delves into the science of healthy eating, aiming to provide you with a solid foundation for making informed dietary choices. If you are interested in enriching your understanding and applying these principles to your daily life, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team is here to support your journey towards a healthier lifestyle.

Warm regards,

Jordan )

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