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The Top 10 Reasons People Fail With Weight Loss

In all my years as fitness trainer and owner of Shaping Concepts I’ve seen hundreds of people walk through our doors ready to start a fitness or weight loss program. Many of them are frustrated from trying so hard but failing time after time on their own.

I always tell them, “look you’re not alone…and it’s not your fault.” People have been given so much misinformation that they unfairly consider themselves a failure when their workout or diet plans don’t work when the reality is most of the time their plans didn’t stand a chance.

It probably involved them working out all by themselves without support or accountability (two very important factors) and dieting without any real idea of their unique calorie requirements based off their metabolism.

The solution for achieving the body of your dreams is really not that complex. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll need to apply hard work and effort but the blueprint for success is not a mystery.

I’ve seen people succeed time and time again when they put the principles in play and conversely I’ve seen people get frustrated and quit because they choose to ignore them.

The principles for success in achieving a body transformation are not any different than most other universal laws.

When you recognize the principles as being truth and start following them good things happen.

If you continue to try and ignore them or work around them (thinking you know a better way, or the principals don’t apply in your case) then you’re bound to eventually get a brisk smack in the face with a dose of reality.

In my experience the following ten factors make up for the most common reasons people fail to see results from a fitness or weight loss program. Read each one carefully and do an honest self evaluation of where you’re at with each one.

Are you in line with these truths or are you neglecting them? The most successful people I’ve worked all seem to do several of these things very well. Success leaves clues so don’t just take my word for it. Try making some changes after you read this article and be the judge for yourself.

#1. Not having a clear plan

The first step of ensuring success with your fitness and weight loss goals is taking the time to sit down and write out a blueprint for what needs to happen. You must be clear with what changes will need to happen in your life and how you’ll accomplish them.

What time will you exercise each day?

When will you go to the grocery store?

You absolutely must focus on preparation and establishing new routines. Those individuals who make daily preparation a priority in their lives and work off of planned schedules overwhelmingly succeed while those who don’t typically fail.

#2. Not setting realistic expectations

Being highly motivated to get a flat stomach and have body you’ve always wanted is a good thing but you must set realistic expectations for yourself in the beginning. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment or false beliefs of failure by setting the bar too high for yourself early on.

You didn’t gain all your weight in 30 days, so don’t expect to lose it all in 30 days. Your chances for success are greatly improved if you set several small goals or milestones along your journey.



This is a very underused strategy that works extremely well. By setting several small goals or markers of improvement along the way you build positive momentum and a mindset of success.

#3. Not writing down goals and reaffirming them daily

Everyone knows that people who write down their goals are more likely to succeed than those who don’t. But here’s something you might now know. Just writing down your goals is not enough to do anything.

Writing down your goals becomes powerful only if you refer back to them daily and read them with enthusiasm and emotion. It’s the constant programming of these statements mixed with emotion that programs your subconscious mind.

#4. Not practicing visualization

Much like with goal setting and reaffirmation, your chances for success greatly improve when you practice daily visualization. This is where you see yourself already at the finish line having achieved your objectives.

Be as detailed and descriptive as you can when practicing visualization. See yourself in the body you want and imagine everything about how you’ll look and feel. Paint a mental picture (see yourself on the beach, etc) and try to include all your senses.

See colors, imagine the experience in detail. This practice is most effective right after a workout session when your endorphins are high and you feel good.

Your subconscious mind will correlate the feeling with your thoughts and begin working on recreating it.

#5. Not being accountable to someone other than yourself

Trying to go it all alone seldom works. When you’re making lifestyle changes you absolutely must have someone to support you and keep you accountable to your goals.

This can come from a friend who serves as a workout partner, a personal trainer, or someone who is genuinely interested in your success. It’s too easy to make excuses to yourself and slack off from your routines.

Accountability is without question one of the top three factors in whether or not a person will be successful with their fitness and weight loss goals.

#6. Not journaling daily exercise and diet habits

This is an extremely effective practice but few people practice it because of the idea that it’s too time consuming, tedious, or boring. I don’t know about all that but I know that it flat out works. People who journal are way more successful than those who don’t. It’s not essential that you do this practice indefinitely but in the beginning when you’re trying to establish new routines and habits it’s invaluable.

#7. Not having a personalized plan

This is at the foundation of every unsuccessful program, even when the person had consistent routines and made lifestyle changes. This is why people commonly get frustrated and quit after trying so hard with so few results to show for it.

If you’re objective is to lose weight (and keep it off) and you go about without having any idea how many calories your body needs to start tapping into fat stores, you’re basically throwing darts blindfolded.

Everybody has a unique and different metabolism and what worked for a friend may not work for you. The best investment you can make in yourself is finding out your unique calorie requirements through a resting metabolic rate test. A well though out exercise and diet plan that is personalized for your body does make all the difference.

#8. Not letting go of bad days

Most people have this false belief that one “bad day” where they slipped up on their diet wipes out or negates all the progress they made for the week. This is simply not the case and you have to look at the big picture.

Which side is winning? If you have one bad day let it go. The negative thoughts can ruin your momentum and derail progress in a minute. The people who are successful recognize they’re not going to be perfect and simply try to get better each and every day.

When they have a bad day, which everyone will, they simply put it behind them immediately and focus back on their goals.

#9. Not recognizing saboteurs and dealing with them quickly

You can be certain of one fact when you start an exercise and/or weight loss program. You’ll have people, many of them close to you, that will try and undermine your plans.

Why? For starters people don’t like feeling bad about themselves and if you’re starting to workout, eat healthy foods, and look better, they’ll feel guilty that they’re not doing it and try to drag you back. Misery loves company.

People are afraid of change. What will happen after you reach your goals? Friends think you’ll move on to new ones, spouses may become afraid that you’ll leave them. People do weird things in the face of change.

You’d think that the people who are closest to you and who love you the most would be the most supportive but it’s not always the case. Understand the human psychology in this going in and you’ll be able to spot the saboteurs.

Talk to them and be honest. Ask them for their support and encouragement. If someone continues to try and drag you back you’ll have to evaluate how important that relationship is.

#10. Not being prepared to win the mind game

Every decision we make in life is based on one of two things…our desire for pleasure or the avoidance of pain. Many people associate unhealthy food with thoughts of pleasure and this makes willpower essentially useless.

It’s not until you can look at that piece of chocolate cake and associate pain that true change is made. How do you do that you ask? Simple, change your associations. If you focus regularly on the pain of how you felt being unhealthy, not having energy, not feeling attractive, etc you’ll look at the foods that kept you there differently.

Put the pain front and center. Once you start eating healthy foods and begin to feel great (that may be a new feeling for you) it will completely change your associations. Be patient with this but always try to put the pain at the forefront of your thoughts when you’re tempted with comfort food.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, author, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. Learn more about how you can receive a FREE no obligations trial of our personal training programs and experience the Shaping Concepts difference for yourself.

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