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10 Questions to Ask Before You Start Day One of Your Diet

Kenneth Schwarz, Ph.D.
Julie Schwarz

So you've decided to go on a diet. Maybe you've told yourself "I can do it this time. It just takes willpower." What you may not be aware of is that ongoing willpower requires many different things. Willpower is fueled by commitment, belief in yourself, awareness of your problem, good information, common sense, and hope. These are among the things you need in order to keep up your "willpower" and reach your weight loss goal.

Before you take one bite of your first diet meal on Monday morning, ask yourself the following essential questions. The answers you give will inform you and give you the strength you need to stick to your decision to diet.

1. Can I envision a better life for myself once I've lost the weight?
If you can focus on how good your life will be when you reach your weight loss goal, it will strengthen your motivation and commitment. Strong motivation and commitment are critical to a successful diet.

2. Is this a good time for me to start a diet?
Some times are better than others for making important changes. Be sure to look ahead. Are there things that might make it harder for you at this point? Are you in the midst of a crisis? Is it holiday time? Or is this a quiet time, a time when you can give your diet the attention it needs?

3. Should I do this myself or should I get some help?
Of course, it is you yourself who must lose the weight, but many women feel the need for extra support. This can come from people close to you or from a diet group or from one-on-one counseling. Think about whether this is something you need. If it is, arrange for that extra support. You can always rethink this as you go.

4. Do I know what went right and what went wrong with my last two diet attempts?
Answering this question will reveal a lot that is helpful. Take a good look at all that surrounded those last two diets, especially your own behavior. You can learn from what you did right and prepare yourself better this time by anticipating what might go wrong.

5. Have I chosen a diet that is particularly good for me?
There is a new diet trend every year — low carb, low fat, low cal, etc. These plans are alluring and some are very good. If you can pick what will fit best into your own life, you will have an excellent chance of succeeding on your diet.

6. Do I know how to keep a cheating episode from ruining my diet?
Studies have shown that learning from mistakes is an invaluable tool for change. There simply is no real personal change without making mistakes. During your diet, you'll need to find ways to accept your cheats, understand why they happen, and use this knowledge to lessen your number of cheats in the future.

7. Am I willing to make changing my eating a priority?
Can you put your diet and all that it entails at the top of your list? If you want to be a successful dieter, you need to do this. Give your diet and all that goes along with it a real importance in your day-to-day life.

8. Do I believe in my ability to change?
Past diet failures may have really cut into your belief in your ability to stick to your diet. You may not know that you really can change. Begin to think about all the strengths you have that will contribute to your diet success. Write them down and add to your list whenever you think of another strength.

9. Can I let go of old patterns of behavior?
Changing anything about ourselves is hard and sometimes even frightening. For instance, the automatic response of reaching for food when you're under stress is an important thing to address. You will need to concentrate on establishing healthier, more life-affirming patterns.

10. Do I have a workable strategy for maintaining my weight loss after this diet?
Maintaining all the changes necessary for weight loss is difficult, but most important. You need to prepare yourself to keep to these changes, even in difficult situations. You also need to plan for lapses — those times when you might slip back into old behaviors.

These are key issues that need to be dealt with along with your diet. Don't try to do it in a one-sided way. If you just start to diet, without much thought as preparation, you will lessen your chances for diet success. Get yourself thinking in the right direction before you start and you'll be half-way there.


© Maria's Last Diet
Kenneth Schwarz, Ph.D. is a psychologist specializing in personal change and goal achievement. Julie North Schwarz is a writer in the field of women’s weight-loss issues. They are authors of the online weight-loss solution, “Diet Tuffy: The Fun Way to Seriously Make Your Diet Work”. For Diet Tuffy and more about how to conquer the psychological side of dieting, go to their website,

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