How many times have you said that you were going to lose weight? And how many times have you given up before you got there?

According to several researches, almost half of the adult population of the USA (49.1% – CDC 2018), UK (48% – Mintel 2016) and Australia (46% – DAA 2017) are actively trying to lose weight.  Unfortunately, the success rates seem to be very low because many people make several attempts throughout their lifetime.

But what is the real problem here? Is weight-loss a mythical creature that no one seems to know how to capture?

In my perspective, the problem lies on how we have been conditioned to approach weight-loss and it all starts with the goal setting process.

You see, for most people, weight-loss is not even a goal. At best, it is an intention. The same as getting rich, being successful or finding happiness. What does it even mean?

It is just too vague to offer clear direction, let alone to be a strong motivator that inspires long-term commitment.

Even if you frame weight-loss within the SMART goal principle (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound), it may not be enough.

Let me give you an example: Let’s say that your goal is to lose 10 kg in six months.

It sounds specific enough, it is definitely measurable, it can be attainable (other people have done it, so it is possible), it seems realistic (you think that you can do it) and it’s time bound (you’ve set a timeframe). So why is this not enough?

Well, I have three good reasons:

  1. The outcome is not under your control.

With weight-loss, you are at your body’s mercy. You can make a plan, track your progress and attempt to control calories in and out but you have no input in how your body will respond to the changes you are making. It may grant your wish straight away or it may not.

Now, what happens if the scale is not willing to budge? Well, if you are like most people, you will end up frustrated, getting discouraged and giving up before you get what you wanted.

Which brings me to the next reason…

  • Motivation is fleeting.

I have heard this a lot during my personal training career: “If I start to see results, I will feel motivated to continue.”  This means that people tend to rely on external changes (changes that are not under their control, by the way) to renew their motivation to stay on track.

But unfortunately, this type of motivation is not sustainable, is it? If you have tried to lose weight before, you know what I mean. Weight-loss doesn’t happen on a straight line. It has ups and downs. You may lose a couple of pounds one week and hold some on the next. And if you have nothing else to keep your focused when progress stalls, you may start second guessing your efforts. Which then affects commitment.

  • It’s hard to commit

The truth is that weight-loss is a hard pill to swallow. Why? Because the methods that we usually use to get there can easily disturb normal life. It’s the all the “dos and don’ts” that come with it that get in the way and limit freedom. And who wants to feel inconvenienced, restricted, or deprived?

That’s usually when you begin to question if you really want this, if it’s really worth the effort. And after a lot of mental debate, you may decide that the cons outweigh the pros and that you prefer to go on with your life. Afterall, you only live once, so let’s eat the cake.

Now, that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to lose weight and I’m don’t mean to discourage anyone from trying. What I’m saying is that if you want to succeed, you will need a better approach. By that I mean, setting appropriate goals, learning what motivates you and finding a meaningful reason to commit. 

Want to learn more? Read “How to Set Goals that Work for You.”


  1. Attempts to lose weight among adults in the United States, 2013-2016
  2. Brits lose count of their calories: over a third of brits don’t know how many calories they consume on a typical day.
  3. Aussies wasting time and money on pricey fad diets.