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The #1 Reason Your Diet Isn't Working, According to Experts

Feeling frustrated by the scale? Here's why you shouldn't give up.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

Feel like your diet isn't working? The problem with your diet has less to do with what you're doing, and more to do with how you implement changes.

When it comes to eating healthy, people already know what to do. Eat more vegetables. Decrease portion sizes. Limit added sugar in your day. Consume more water and less alcohol. These are not novel concepts. In fact, most people who want to make healthy changes will be able to tell you exactly what you need to do to lose weight. Simply having the knowledge is not enough to create long-term success with changing your lifestyle.

People aren't successful with their diet because they prioritize the number on the scale over creating healthier habits.

Here's why you should focus on healthy habits over the scale right now, and for even more healthy tips, here are The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

Consider this: you decide to begin a new diet. You stock your fridge with fresh produce, commit to cooking at home more, and tell your friends you're trying to be healthier. After a couple of weeks, you feel great. You have more energy, feel proud of yourself for prepping more food at home, and you start to wonder how much weight you've lost. You hesitantly walk to the bathroom and step on the scale. To your surprise, the scale has hardly budged. Now, you start to wonder… "Why bother?"

"People are too focused on the scale instead of the habits they need to reach the outcome," says Lainey Younkin, MS RD LDN. "When the scale goes up, they throw in the towel and say 'this isn't working.' But if they stop hyper-focusing on the scale and start hyper-focusing on their habits, they would see lasting change."

So if you ever feel like your diet isn't working, consider other ways you can measure success. Use non-scale victories to reinforce your progress.

If the goal is losing weight for good, adjusting your mindset is crucial for a sustainable approach. Focus on one or two changes at a time until you feel you have mastered them. Once they feel like part of your new lifestyle, move onto the next habit to create. Consider some of these habit changes to make weight loss stick.

Weight loss is a long-term game and healthy habits are the foundational building blocks that help us maintain a healthy weight. Jamie Withrow, RD says it's time to "identify as a health-seeking person who does health-enhancing things" rather than only emphasizing the number on the scale.

When we stop using the scale to measure progress every step of the way, we have more energy to direct toward creating healthy habits that will actually last. Now, that's a gift that keeps on giving.

If you're looking for a healthy habit to implement for weight loss, check out these 20 ways to lose weight for good.

Caroline Thomason, RDN
Caroline is a women's health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more about Caroline
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