Losing weight or starting a diet is the decision many people take after the Christmas holidays are over, determined to start a new, healthier life in the New Year. Surprisingly (or not) few people manage to stick to their resolution and actually change the way they eat or exercise. In my weight management practice I often help my clients find out why things did not work out as planned.

It sounds easy enough – visualise your goal and stick to the plan. But things always come up to sabotage even the best of intentions. So here is what you can do differently to make it work in 2017. 

Begin by asking yourself a question: What is my goal? Many diets fail because the target is uncertain. If you are not sure what your ideal weight should be, you will never be satisfied with the results, as you can always lose “just a few pounds more”.

It's important to ask yourself why you want to be this particular size/weight. “Because everybody is trying to lose weight” is not motivating enough. What does it mean personally for you? What are your dreams and aspirations connected to being that way? It's worth looking closely at the reasons you think you need to lose weight or change the way you look. 

My client Sarah said she would like to be thin like her sister, who was always her mother’s favorite. After discussing the motivation and doing some “reality checks” we discovered that Sarah did not really need to lose weight at all – she was a size 10 and had a great body, but being thin appeared to her the only way to get her mother pay attention to her. 

Psychotherapy helped Sarah understand her family dynamics and adjust her relationships with her mother and sister accordingly. Separating emotional issues from her weight loss plans allowed Sarah to really see herself and to actually start liking her body.

Remember that a change in you will not necessarily result in a change in your relationships.

Another client, Lea, was motivated to lose weight in order to be more attractive to her husband and to improve their relationship. Unfortunately, after losing weight, Lea discovered that the relationship with her husband had not changed – they had just drifted apart over the years and were now, in fact, two strangers living under the same roof. 

So why do you want to lose weight now? 

Your primary motivation should be yourself. Why is it important for you now to get fitter and be that particular size/weight?

Unless your answer is about your needs and feelings and not other people’s expectations of you, your diet is not likely to go to plan.

Get yourself a new notebook and write down exactly what weight and size you are going to be. If you have a picture of yourself at that size then stick it in the book. Think about why it is important for you to be that weight and write it down as well. Now you have made a “contract” with yourself, that you can check from time to time to see if you are on target. You can always add to it or amend it in any way you like, the main thing is to write down all the changes. Use positive phrasing like “I will” rather than “I will try”; it will make it easier for you to picture the positive outcome. Keep your contract close at hand and make 2017 a year of a successful transformation!

All names and case details have been changed to protect privacy