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10 Reasons Why DIY Diets Don’t Work

By Elisa - Jenny Craig

Have you ever tried losing weight on your own? You create what seems like the perfect weight loss plan, but as the days pass, you quickly go from feeling motivated and energetic to discouraged because you’re still not losing weight. It’s incredibly frustrating, and it can be a common occurrence among do-it-yourself dieters.


Why is it so hard to go solo on a weight loss plan? Read these 10 reasons why DIY diets typically don’t work:




1. You Need More than an Appshutterstock_DIY_AppImage.jpg

In a recent study, over 200 overweight primary care patients were followed for six months, with one group assigned to a weight loss app, and the other to regular medical care. According to researchers, usage of the app dropped off within the first one or two months, likely because being accountable daily for logging your weight loss details can be burdensome and challenging.1 Not having a plan and additional support can make it difficult to keep going once that initial motivation to lose weight wanes.

2. Lack of Support

While it’s tempting to believe you can successfully complete a weight loss journey without any assistance, an abundance of evidence shows that support is the single most important factor when it comes to weight loss. One study found that adherence rates improved by 65% for more individuals that followed a program with support, as compared to a self-directed diet.2

3. Favoring Exercise Over Mindful Eating Habits

While regular physical activity is important, trying to rely on exercise for weight loss can backfire. In a 2009 study, researchers discovered that individuals tended to eat more after exercise - believing they burned more calories than they really burned, or because they felt hungrier. Although exercise has many health-promoting benefits, when it comes to weight loss, a well-structured plan that focuses on sensible portions has a far greater impact.3

4. Your “Rules” Keep Changing

With so many different approaches to weight loss, you may be conflicted as to what advice to follow. You may start your weight loss plan by focusing on one strategy but then find evidence that cutting out a specific food group may work better. The next day you read a different trend and revise your plan. There’s no reason to eliminate any of the foods you love when losing weight, and depriving yourself will only lead to frustration.

shutterstock_DIY_FitnessTracker.jpg5.  Fitness Trackers Can Be Misleading

Studies are showing fitness trackers are not as effective as we believe. In a recent two year study, the group using a fitness tracker lost almost 50% less weight than the control group. Researchers attribute this to the fact that fitness trackers focus exclusively on physical activity, as opposed to nutrition, which could lead people to eat more because they believe they’ve burned extra calories through exercise.4

6. You Have a “Crash Diet” Mindset

Have you ever tried a “crash diet” or “cleanse” to drop a significant amount of weight in time for your tropical vacation? Unfortunately, crash diets can be unsafe, and the results are short-lived. Sustainable weight loss requires lifestyle modification, and that involves understanding portions and developing healthy habits that you can use every day. It’s about moderation, not deprivation.

7. Losing Weight is Harder than We Anticipate

You may start your weight loss journey full of motivation, but as your energy levels drop, you may begin to miss your favorite foods and eventually your willpower gives out. Having a well-structured meal plan that includes your favorite foods, as well as the support you need to help you stay on track, helps to combat the do-it-yourself cycle.

8. Portion Control Can Be Challenging

Trying to maintain appropriate portion sizes at meals can be challenging, especially if you eat out at restaurants a lot or don’t have time to meal-prep and cook. Take the guesswork out by following a thoughtful weight loss plan that provides perfectly portioned foods, and you’ll be less likely to overeat.

9. You Go Overboard on Weekends

You stayed on track during the week, so you can eat as much as you want on the weekends, right? Unfortunately, that all-or-nothing mentality can often derail your previous efforts. A better approach is to enjoy healthier versions of your favorite foods in moderation throughout the week, so you don’t feel the need to go overboard on the weekends.

10. You Stress When the Scale Doesn’t Budge

We’ve all been there: the number on the scale isn’t moving, or, it ticks back up. When this happens, many people panic and change everything, or just give up. However, scale weight is often misleading, as it records our total weight, which includes muscle, water, and the food in our system, as well as body fat. Consistency is the key to successful weight loss, which is why the best weight loss plan is one that is structured and enjoyable, so you can confidently stick with it regardless of any fluctuation on the scale.  


While not all do-it-yourself approaches to weight loss fail, extra support and a simple plan to follow can be more effective in helping you reach your goals. If you’re ready to commit to a scientifically proven weight loss program, contact Jenny Craig for your free appointment!



1 Dotinga, Randy. “Do weight loss apps really work?” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 18 Nov. 2014, www.cbsnews.com/news/do-weight-loss-apps-really-work/.

2 Lemstra, Mark, et al. Patient preference and adherence, Dove Medical Press, 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4990387/.

3 Haubursin, Julia Belluz and Christophe. “The science is in: exercise won't help you lose much weight.” Vox, Vox, 3 Jan. 2018, www.vox.com/2018/1/3/16845438/exercise-weight-loss-myth-burn-calories.

4 Ross, Erin. “Weight Loss On Your Wrist? Fitness Trackers May Not Help.” NPR, NPR, 20 Sept. 2016, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/09/20/494631423/weight-loss-on-your-wrist-fitness-trackers-may-not-help

Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig

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