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10 Reasons You Can’t Stick to Your Diet

By Nicki Cartwright | In Blog | on October 12, 2015

Everyone knows a good nutrition plan or diet is the key to achieving your fitness goals – aesthetic, strength, maintenance, endurance or a combination. Go to three different coaches and I guarantee each one will have a different approach, and all three might work for you to some degree. Still, most people complain that they cannot find the right diet plan for them when they are really lacking the ability to follow ANY plan to know if it “works” or not. Before you can evaluate what and if a plan is consistent with your goals, you have to follow it as close to 100% as possible…reality is, most people don’t.

Why not?

I have clients, new and current, come to me with their struggles regarding sticking to their diet plan which I may or may not have put together for them. When I ask why they feel they cannot stick to it, the common answer is “I don’t know…” and then we start narrowing down fundamental obstacles that usually come from an emotional place such as mental blocks, and also things they may or may not be doing. Identifying simple reasons behind their inability to stick to their plan is a starting point to committing to their cause.

If you are having trouble figuring out why you cannot stick to your diet, here are 10 reasons that might apply to you, and how to work through them.


Options in a plan are great. Having set macronutrients and experimenting with different food sources is a great way to stay motivated. However, not all macros are created equal and for one person sweet potatoes, for example, might be metabolized more efficiently than jasmine rice. What I find is most individuals who simply count macros and log their food online have trouble keeping those macros consistent. Furthermore, too much diversity can be confusing and require more work on your end, which can be overwhelming and lead to abandonment. Once your goals are specific, your diet should be as well. This does not mean you cannot have ANY options in your food plan, but rather should be conservative. Specificity in your early stages will help you learn your body’s chemistry faster, and lead to a better understanding of how to continue making progress in your goals.


When you do not have faith in a program, there is a low likelihood that you will adhere to it – period. If you do not adhere to your plan, you might not see results you are shooting for. If you do not see results, you will likely blame your program and/or coach. In essence, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are presented a diet that you are not comfortable with, alter it to a point within reason and trust in it. You must have trust to commit.


Ah-hah! The ultimate complaint! Boring is relative and healthy food is not as exciting as restaurant or fast food dishes. Deal with it! You want results? Accept that you will have to make sacrifices but learn to experiment with the foods and condiments available to you. Not enough people take the time to play around with spices, healthy sauces and cooking techniques to make your “boring” more exciting. With Google, Instagram, Youtube and Pinterest, we have an incredible database of support and ideas but we do not always take the time to utilize it.


Most clients hire me just to be accountable to someone. Having training or progress measurement appointments creates pressure and establishes a team atmosphere in your plan. Knowing someone else is counting on you to succeed puts less focus on self-motivation and therefore, less personal pressure. Unfortunately, some people cannot afford trainers or coaches. This is where food logs both online and on paper help, as well as public online logs. You must create a routine/schedule and system for how you will make yourself accountable. Every day that you exercise or fulfill your diet plan, for example, you can put a sticker or marking on your calendar. Keeping some sort of record is important in evaluating your adherence and progress. Involve your friends and family in your plan and put your intentions out into the universe.


If you want to change, your lifestyle must change – plain and simple. The key word in this reason is “accept”. I have seen people go around and around in circles with the same goal for years because they cannot accept what needs to be done and are afraid of change…they “know” what they need to do or not do, but cannot seem to follow through. By talking to others in confidence, try to figure out why you cannot drop your barriers and make a change in your life. A common theme is fear that you will be a slave to a diet the rest of your life. Technically, any manner of consuming food is considered a “diet” – it is simply the way YOU consume nutrients. All you are doing is changing the manner in which you do so and in reality, you are taking MORE control over your diet. Do not forget, you are always in control, and delicious comfort food will always be around for you if you want it…but you are making a conscious decision as to how much, when and how often you have such foods. Your lifestyle will change, but once you achieve your goal, your body will be able to handle less strictness over time; it is all about balance and compromise.


This is a big one. A lot of addictive personalities fall into this category on both extremes of dieting and it is never truly about food –it is all about CONTROL. You cannot focus on stopping the use of food to ease emotional distress. Instead, you must focus on healing and overcoming the personal, emotional and/or mental challenges you have. Over- or under-eating might be your method of exhibiting power and control. You must deal with the deep-rooted issues you have before you can stop using food consumption to alleviate stresses.


There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve your outward appearance! It does not make you vain or any less of an athlete to set an aesthetic goal. However, problems arise when you forget all of the benefits of a sound diet inside as well as out. When you only eat to look a certain way, it becomes hard to compromise when you have slightly fallen off the plan – you tend to throw in the towel albeit for a day or altogether. If you understand that there is more to a good diet then just aesthetic goals, you are more likely to keep it up and not give up when you have setbacks. It goes back to the ideas we were taught as children regarding eating healthy to grow strong bones, to have energy and recover. Sometimes you need to focus on the big picture of good nutrition in order to stay motivated and appreciate its role in overall health.


Look up any hashtags under fitness or nutrition and you will find a picture of someone’s week’s worth of “food prep”. To some these posts might seem irritating and pompous, but preparing your food will make a night and day difference! Everyone has their own way of preparing their food, and it does not mean you have to pre-package EVERY meal for EVERY day of the week. For some, like myself, preparing animal protein (chicken, fish, steak, etc.) is imperative for the week. I can whip up some vegetables or carbohydrates easily throughout the week. If you do not have enough time to pre cook and pre pack all of your main meals out of the house (during your work day, for instance), at least aim to prepare the foods that take the most time during the busy week such as chicken or beef. Some people use a lot of Tupperware, some like to use plastic bags to portion. Anytime a client expresses having trouble sticking to their diet, 98% of the time I hear, “I just need to prep my food, I catch myself stuck without prepared food.” If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!


Just stop! Right now! It is okay to observe what works for other people but you cannot let it get into your head and question your own plan, especially if a coach put it together for you. You MUST stick to a diet plan for at least 3-4 weeks before you can conclude its effectiveness. If you do not give your plan a chance you will not know what and if to change something. Remember, your plan is designed for YOU and is one of those elements that has so much variance between people based on genetics, age, schedule, hormones, the direction the wind is blowing, etc. Comparing only makes you mental and leads you to doubt yourself and your program.


A continuation of the last reason – too much focus on what others are doing, saying, thinking or critiquing. One thing you must understand is EVERYONE HAS AN OPINION, and most people feel compelled to share their opinions recklessly. I make it a point not to share my opinions unless they are asked for, especially if someone is under the guidance of another individual. Even then, if I feel sharing my opinion might “rock the boat” in someone’s head I will not share my thoughts at all. As mentioned earlier, there are many ways to attack a goal but you need to give any plan a chance. If you commit to a coach, you are entrusting them and their methods for you. Do not go around asking other coaches and friends, reading articles on the Internet or researching what other people do that you find on social media for the sake of justifying your plan. Anyone who asks what your plan is and gives their opinion unsolicited is a red flag in my book. There are too many egos out there and many want to prove themselves at any chance. It is okay to have tunnel vision in order to focus on your program. Take everything you read or hear with a grain of salt.


All in all, the main argument I present is that if you truly want to succeed, you will make plans, not excuses. The points I presented are some realities people face that they may or may not be aware of. You must constantly keep yourself in check, as every day is a challenge to stay on track. A coach can only do so much for you.

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Nicki Crapotta