Nine times out of ten, when someone is failing at a particular diet, it comes down to one thing: adherence. This is the word we hear all the time. It means sticking to your diet - the best diet in the world is useless if you aren’t following, and often times poor diets strictly followed can still show us results.
The problem is, most people approach diet in all the wrong way. They mistake the goal for the approach, and forget to think in the moment. They forget to find a diet that they can actually adhere to.
If you aren’t enjoying your diet, you aren’t going to enjoy the results it’s giving you. Period. People who starve themselves to get lean aren’t happy, and that means that they aren’t happy with being lean because the process and the goal are inextricable - in your mind, the physique you’ve got and the diet you need to maintain it are one.
Of course, a lot of people get around this. They use external encouragement like competition to keep them going. But the more external encouragement you need to maintain a diet, the sooner things go wrong when that external encouragement is withdrawn. Bodybuilders maintain rock solid diets until the day after their competition, when they have legendary cheat meals.
It’s important to understand that the results and the process have to be looked at together. If you enjoy your diet, you’re going to enjoy your body (excepting significant outside influence) and vice versa. This is why it’s so easy for a lot of people to enjoy their bodies, even when they may be extremely overweight or obese - because they’re enjoying their diet so much that they don’t see any reason to change. Only when significant social or medical pressures begin to overtake that comfort do you see the need to change.
Nobody is a perfect dieter. Aiming for perfection generally leads to quick failure except in those few lucky bastards who have the right mindset for it. Rather, we should aim to compound improvements over time, slowly getting better as we get more used to it. Never should the diet be detestable, because if you hate what you’re eating you won’t be able to sustain it long.
Long term success is about finding a way to enjoy the food that you need to eat. It’s about finding healthy and sustainable patterns that are ultimately enjoyable. While that might mean avoiding that extra piece of cake every now and then, it might also mean that you can pig out on chips every once in a while, or go out to the bar with your friends and have a lot of drinks. Finding that balance shouldn’t be too much of a challenge - because if it is, you’re not going to succeed.