When life throws us a curve ball, we must adapt and change our plans as need be. It’s tempting to hit pause when things go awry, including a global pandemic that has knocked us off course for almost a year. Resist the urge to put your plans on pause until things return to normal, because they never do. This time of year, weight loss is one of the most popular resolutions. Here are six common reasons we hit pause or give up:

1. Commitment. One of the biggest mistakes in all of dieting is to shift from one approach to the next, but never really sticking to one thing. Diets are notorious for producing only temporary success. But when the diet fails, we blame ourselves. Diets have a 95% failure rate. Yet because we achieved temporary success, we blame ourselves rather than the diet that is near impossible to follow.

Most dieters say that it’s harder to maintain the weight than to lose it. Healthy eating is a lifelong process. The more you commit to behavior change because you believe in the process, the more the process is likely to work for you.

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2. Impatient. There is a natural tendency to underestimate the time needed to reach a goal. Everything seems to take longer than we think that it should! When a goal takes longer than we think it should, then it’s easy to feel defeated, get discouraged and be tempted to give up the goal. In setting goals, it is important to be realistic about the time needed to achieve a positive, long-term change in behavior.

3. Difficulty. Not only does everything take longer than we think it will, it requires more hard work. Dieters often confuse two terms that appear to be the same but are quite different; simple and easy.

We want to believe that once we understand a simple concept, it will be easy to follow a plan and achieve the outcome we want. If this were true, everyone who understood that they should eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly would be in good shape. Diet books are almost always at the top of the best-seller lists.

In setting goals, it is important to realize and accept that real change will take real work. Change takes some sacrifice. Understanding the price of success in the beginning of the change process will help prevent disappointment that can occur when challenges arise later in the change process.

4. Priorities. Don’t underestimate the distractions and competing goals that will invariably show up once you set your goal. Be aware that something may come up to throw you off course. This distraction could be an unexpected problem or an opportunity. If you assume that unexpected distractions and competing goals will occur, then you’ll feel more prepared when it happens. By planning for distractions in advance, you can set realistic expectations for change and be less likely to give up on the change process when either special problems or special opportunities emerge.

5. Rewards. Dieters tend to become disappointed when the achievement of one goal doesn’t immediately translate into the achievement of other goals. For example, a dieter who loses weight may give up on the weight loss effort when no one takes notice.

There’s usually some desire beyond just losing the weight. What do you want the weight loss to do for you? Make you more confident, more socially at ease or simply improve your other overall wellness? Think of any long-term goal, like weight loss, as an investment in yourself and your own development.

6. Maintenance — not taking a long-term approach. One of the first reactions of many dieters upon reaching their weight goal is to think, “This is great. Now I can eat again. Let’s celebrate with some pizza tonight.” Of course, this mindset leads to future weight gain and the “yo-yo” effect that is, unfortunately, so common in dieters. Losing weight and keeping it off is far more than “eat less, exercise more.” It is a mindset.

Even without a pandemic, there will always be excuses we can find to skip the gym. There will never be a perfect time to get fit. So, stop hitting pause. Learn to adapt to changes as need be so you will succeed.

Perry Buchanan, owner of PT Gym, is certified as an exercise physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine, and fitness nutrition specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Email him at perry@ptgym.com. Follow @ptgym on Twitter.

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