Weight Loss Resolutions: Why Are They Popular And Why Do They Often Fail?

January 16, 2023

As the beginning of another year kicks off, chances are you have thought at least once (but likely more than once) about the resolutions you want to make for the coming weeks and months. Perhaps the one appearing on the majority of lists for New Year’s Resolutions is trying to lose weight between January and December. Why does this top most lists? And why are we at a disadvantage when it comes to keeping this resolution in the first place? It’s time to dig underneath the surface and discover the answers you’ve always wondered about the extreme popularity and failure rate of weight loss resolutions.

Desire For Reinvention

The vast majority of the populace has at least one thing they don’t like about their body. In many cases, it is something related to weight, whether it’s simply not liking the number on the scale or thinking they have too much weight in the belly, thighs, or another body part. This unhappiness in regards to weight drives a desire for reinvention. Fixing something you are unhappy with means creating a resolve to change! Reinvention is a major key to lifestyle changes many individuals wish to make, especially when linked to weight and appearance. For many of us, losing weight means we will become a whole new person with a new outlook on our lives, new self-image, et cetera. It’s the old adage: new year, new you!

But what else makes losing weight top the list of most popular resolutions?

Guilt Driven Response To Holiday Eating

There’s no doubt about it: the holidays are known for indulgence. This often comes from the holiday parties we receive invites for: large holiday dinners with family and friends, the drinks and snacks involved with a countdown for the New Year, et cetera. The holidays, many will say, are meant to indulge in delicious food from stuffing and turkey to chocolate, cheesecake, alcohol, and any number of desserts your mind can think of.

But with the many opportunities to indulge over the holiday season comes the danger of overindulging. When this happens to us, we often feel guilty about the amount of indulging we have done over the last couple of weeks in the year, even if we don’t need to. The most common response then becomes losing the weight we gained to reverse the effects of the overindulging, which leads us to the next reason why weight loss resolutions top the most popular lists.

Instant Gratification

When we feel guilty about something, the immediate desire is to fix that, which means making the initial decision to do so. What if someone feels guilty about overindulging over the holidays? The simple decision to lose weight in the New Year provides instant gratification. You’ve made the decision to fix it, which means you are already on your way to achieving the goal of losing weight. None of us, no matter how fantastic we might be, can do anything significant like losing weight without this immediate first step.

Unfortunately, many of the people who make the resolution to lose weight during the coming year fail at achieving this well-intentioned resolution. So why do we often become sidetracked by the instant gratification? Let’s find out!

Unspecific Expectations

We know the most popular resolution is simple: lose weight. But the only simple thing about it is how it only uses two words. What does a successful resolution to lose weight look like? Is it losing one hundred pounds? Is it just losing fifty pounds? Your definition of success is likely different from the definition the person next to you at the gym has, even if you both put lose weight on your list of New Year’s Resolutions. With no specific expectations, many of us find ourselves disappointed in our results at the end of the year. If we made the simple resolution, our results might not have been what we were expecting, but by not setting something specific, how will we know?

Of course, there is another side to the coin of setting expectations on losing weight as a resolution.

Unrealistic Goals, No Wiggle Room

In an ideal situation, what will you weigh at the end of the year? For most of us who want to lose weight, if we do attach a specific goal to our resolution, we immediately jump to the end goal. Imagine for a second that end goal is losing two hundred pounds. Though it is a nice goal, trying to lose two hundred pounds in a year is quite unrealistic for most of us. With the rigid expectation of reaching this exact goal, can we possibly fail at attaining this resolution? If you’re anything like us, getting behind early on or making other mistakes resulting in setbacks can make us abandon the resolution completely. Without flexibility and realism attached to our weight loss resolutions, they are doomed to fail!

But let’s say you have set realistic and specific expectations for your weight loss resolution. What are the other reasons individuals often fail? What do you need to watch out for?

Choosing An Unenjoyable Exercise

How you go about trying to lose weight has much more of an impact on your chances of success than you might think. When in doubt, we often turn to typical exercise choices like going for a run on a treadmill or outside, lifting weights, or using other equipment typically found at traditional gyms. But exercise is not a one activity fits all situation! If you don’t enjoy what exercise you chose, your motivation to actually do it is going to drop. No matter how effective this exercise might be, if you don’t actually do it, you are not going to get anywhere in your weight loss goal. Even completing the less effective exercises that burn fewer calories is better when you have the motivation to do them.

Speaking of motivation, did you know it plays yet another role in why we often fail at keeping weight loss resolutions?

Not Celebrating Progress

We already know about the instant gratification in making the resolution to lose weight. There is also the fabled celebration of actually succeeding in this resolution at the end of the year for the lucky few who make it there. If you have failed at this resolution in the past, did you ever stop to consider celebrating progress and smaller milestones throughout the year? Without occasional celebrating for a resolution such as this one, your ‘steam’ is likely to run out, and your goal will fall by the wayside. Don’t wait until the end of the year to congratulate yourself, because if you do, the moment may never actually arrive!

Waiting to celebrate until the end of the year means you are depriving yourself of the motivational boost celebrating brings. But there’s more when it comes to deprivation and failing to keep weight loss resolutions.

Too Much Focus On Restriction

Chances are you know that to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. This means increasing your exercise while also managing what you are eating in some way. Often, this is following a diet to help achieve your ultimate goal. But many of us make the mistake of focusing too much on what we cannot eat or do when it comes to this. Placing the focus on restrictions puts you in a negative mindset about trying to lose weight, and who wants to try when trying doesn’t make them feel good at all?

Exercise, of course, isn’t restricted when trying to lose weight. It’s food. But beyond forcing a negative mindset, food restriction does more to increase the number of people who fail at keeping weight loss resolutions.

Stuck In A Food Rut

When in doubt about what to eat when trying to lose weight, you are likely to fall back on traditional diet choices like simple salads for days on end. Only rotating between a couple of dishes or even not rotating at all will make both you and your body bored. It’s a food rut! For most of us, food ruts mean our cravings will climb slowly but then skyrocket, often resulting in overindulging or otherwise going for unhealthy food choices in large quantities, more frequently, et cetera. If it carries on long enough or the food rut is severe enough, it can make your weight loss resolution backfire entirely.

It’s clear now: the lack of many different elements increases the chances we fail at weight loss resolutions. It’s not even over yet!

Lack Of Accountability

How do you make your resolutions? Do you tell anyone what your resolutions are? Sometimes we tend to just keep resolutions to ourselves, especially quite personal ones like wanting to lose weight. This is a major reason why many of us fail at keeping weight loss resolutions in the first place! If no one else knows, what are the consequences of not following through? This can also apply to being accountable to yourself. If you only think about your weight loss resolution but don’t write it down, you are more likely to forget! Without accountability, both to ourselves and to others, we are far less likely to do what we said we would. Besides, having someone check in on your progress has more of an impact than you might think.

Failing To Track Progress

We know doing things like stepping on the scale to check your weight, measuring your waist, et cetera, can be quite intimidating, but not doing so increases the chances of falling behind in your goal. Tracking progress links quite closely with accountability, particularly when you consider not having someone check in with you on your progress, whether it be a friend, family member, or even a doctor. But there’s even a significant impact when it comes to failing to track your progress even on your own. If you don’t check in with yourself, how are you going to know how far you’ve come in your weight loss resolution and how much is still left? Besides, without knowing your progress, you cannot celebrate milestones throughout the year!

Could there really be anything else? Yes, there can!

No Self-Confidence

Unfortunately, the reputation weight loss resolutions have as being difficult to keep is yet another reason why we often fail at them. If you’re not confident in your ability to keep your weight loss resolution, you are starting off a step behind everyone else. This means you have more to do, and the more you need to do will impede your progress and lessen the potential you’ll actually succeed at this resolution. Sure, some weight loss resolutions might have bigger numbers attached, but everyone can at the very least have some self-confidence to begin in the best position possible. The beginning gives you the foundation you need to succeed!

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