Your Diet Will Fail If You Don’t Ask Yourself These Questions First

There are a number of reasons people diet. Some do it for weight loss. Others have a newly diagnosed condition their doctors say needs immediate attention. Many people just don’t feel good, and want to make positive changes before it’s too late.

Whatever your motivation, going on a diet is hard. If you’re afraid your diet will fail (again), here are a few questions to ask yourself to gauge whether or not you’re ready to commit.

1. Do you have a goal in mind? Is it realistic?

Start with a goal to diet successfully.

A goal can make all the difference. | iStock.com/vencavolrab

The first step to a successful diet is setting a goal. Mayo Clinic suggests setting a goal that’s both attainable and realistic. You wouldn’t want to set a goal to lose 20 pounds in a week, for example, because that’s neither possible nor healthy.

Already at a healthy weight? You don’t have to limit your diet goals to weight loss. You can also aim to exercise more often (at least 150 minutes per week, according to the CDC), eat more vegetables at every meal, or even shoot for something as simple as leaving the grocery store without buying ice cream.

2. Can you hold yourself accountable?

Self-accountability is important when dieting.

Basically, you’re on your own. | iStock.com/KucherAV

Everyday Health suggests keeping a food diary and tracking your physical activity to stay motivated and make slow but steady progress toward your goals. For many people, daily weighing can also take on a key accountability role when you’re dieting, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Some research suggests people who weigh themselves every day lose and maintain weight more successfully. You’re also more likely to stick to your diet if you’re closely tracking your progress.

3. Have you done your homework?

A diet's success may depend on how much you know.

Do you know what you’re doing? Or are you just winging it? | iStock.com

Align your goals with your specific needs and plan accordingly. If Harvard Health Publications says you need 0.36 grams of protein per pound, figure out how to split 50 grams of protein between meals for optimal weight loss. If you’re trying to eat more vegetables to increase your fiber intake, search for recipes that will help you met the USDA’s recommended 2 1/2 to 3 cups per day. Only follow advice you can trust, and learn how to spot iffy nutrition advice.

4. Is your kitchen up to the task?

Cooking healthy food at home can kickstart your weight loss.

Can your kitchen handle your new diet? | iStock.com/RazoomGames

You don’t need a fancy kitchen, expensive appliances, or trendy gadgets to follow a successful diet. However, some products might save you a ton of time and make dieting easier. Also, make sure you’re prepared to store food properly for later use. Follow Real Simple’s leftover food storage guide to make the most of your healthy food purchases.

5. Are you willing to plan ahead?

Weight loss and dieting become easier when you plan ahead.

Those who don’t plan end up eating a whole lot of Doritos. | iStock.com/Rawpixel Ltd

On Saturday morning, make a list of the meals and snacks you want to eat in the coming week. Then list out the groceries you need to buy to make those meals happen. You can spend part of your Sunday preparing as much food in advance as possible. You could also take meal prep one day at a time. Save time and money with these smart and simple meal prep hacks.

6. Will your friends and family join in or interfere?

Dieting becomes challenging when we're the only ones doing it.

What happens when you can’t get rid of all the junk food in your cabinets? | iStock.com/Dangubic

Unsupportive surroundings make healthy eating and weight loss more difficult — but not impossible. Daily Burn suggests just doing your own thing when your family resists your lifestyle changes — even though it isn’t easy. You can model healthy eating behaviors and stick to your diet whether your household, co-workers, or friends follow your lead or not. It’s your body — if you want to feed it salad for lunch, that’s no one else’s problem.

7. What are you going to do after you reach your goal?

Many diets are unsuccessful because people don't stick to their new habits.

So … what now? | iStock.com/nensuria

Once you reach your goal weight or turn a goal into a habit — celebrate! (Not by eating cake!) Then simply continue healthy eating and regular exercise as usual, unless you’ve really cut back on calories during weight loss. Livestrong.com suggests increasing your calorie intake if you’re still losing weight after the fact — you don’t want to lose too much. If you’ve done your diet right, you’ll have a pretty good idea of which strategies will work best to keep you feeling motivated and satisfied for many years to come.