Stop Beating Yourself Up for Breaking a Diet

By Alia Hoyt

Raise your hand if you’ve ever started a diet. Now keep your hand up if you’ve ever hopped off the weight-loss train one stop short of Skinnyville. Now that my oh-so-scientific experiment is concluded, my guess is that zero readers still have their hands raised. Human beings -- even those with fantastic willpower -- are known to have weak moments. So, whatever the reason is that caused your diet to go off track, repeat after me: It’s really and truly OK.

Still beating yourself up? Take a look at some of the common ways people are too hard on themselves, and why they shouldn't be:

But... I should have more willpower. Unless you’re some kind of robot (which would actually be pretty cool because that means robots are reading my articles), you have human tendencies. Humans are wired to reject things they don’t enjoy and embrace those they do. So if you’re not happy on a particular diet, chances are good that you’ll wind up cutting out early.

But... I hate that I’m always making excuses. Life happens. Sometimes good stuff, like impromptu vacations, causes people to relax their dieting efforts. Sometimes the kids get sick, preventing even the most devoted dieter from heading to the grocery store to stock up on healthy fare. Occasionally, you just really want to eat whatever you want. The reason you stopped watching your nutritional goals isn’t really important. What matters is that -- when you’re ready -- you pull it together and give your health goal another go. If at first you don’t succeed, and all that.

But... I should have picked a different diet.Fad diets are all the rage and have been for centuries. Everyone loves a diet that promises unbelievable results, especially in short order. So, if you want to participate in a diet that allows only Twinkie or baby food consumption, I guess you can give it a shot. However, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends picking a plan rich in fruits, veggies, lean meats and low-fat dairy products, to name a few. If you're unsure what's right for you, ask your doctor to recommend a diet plan that incorporates the nutrients your body needs to function and thrive, and, yes, lose weight. Something tells me that Twinkies have few, if any, nutrients.

But... I’m just not a good dieter. There’s a diet out there for absolutely everyone. All you have to do is find it and commit! If food preparation is the problem, pick one of those services that provide your meals for a monthly fee. If you’re often hungry when out and about, pack a healthy snack that’ll keep you from picking a high-calorie option. Figure out what your Achilles heel is and fix it.

But... I’m doomed to be stuck at this weight forever. Motivation is a key factor in weight-loss success. Judith Beck, PhD., Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, explains that overweight or obese patients are given the tools to lose weight, but their own hang-ups often get in the way. In her opinion, people need to learn how to deal with daily problems, stay motivated and address setbacks in a healthy manner if dieting is really going to be successful.

But... I’ve always been overweight so I just don’t think I can do it. For many people who’ve been overweight for life, weight loss can seem unattainable. If self-esteem or other issues are keeping you from truly focusing and believing in yourself, it might be time to work with a professional to figure out how to give yourself the boost you need.

No matter how many diets you’ve abandoned, it’s important to never let your self-esteem pay the price. With the right tools, focus and motivation, you can find a nutrition plan that helps you feel healthier and happier.