More than half of Britons admit to starting a diet or fitness regime – fully expecting to fail, a survey has found.
A poll of 2,000 adults found 32 per cent feel they would “never” be successful when it comes to trying to stick to an exercise plan, while 28 per cent feel the same about eating healthily or losing weight.
As a result, of those who have tried to change their eating habits, they lasted an average of just 11 days before giving it up.
While nearly one in 10 quit within the first 48 hours.
This may be because one in six go “cold turkey” on their favourite foods, scrapping them completely when they make a bid for better health.
Others said being too stressed and not feeling supported were the top reasons for failing to see a diet through.
The poll also found one in five feel they have to do something “drastic” in order to shed a few pounds or improve their health, with 21 per cent admitting they often set themselves unrealistic goals or timeframes.
Andreas Michaelides, chief of psychology at Noom, the digital health platform focused on behaviour change which commissioned the research, said: “A lot of us have a tricky time establishing healthy lifestyle changes and our expectation that we will ‘fail’ before we’ve even begun often undermines our healthy intentions.
“This plays into the ‘Well-Being Gap,’ revealed in Noom’s inaugural State of Healthy Behaviours report, which found that Brits know what they need to do to be healthier, yet aren’t successfully meeting their health goals.
“Reframing our thoughts and changing our mindset can help us to achieve our goals.
“One of the main pitfalls when changing our behaviours is that people try to change everything all at once. But being overly strict with ourselves is not necessarily the way forward.
“When we try to cut something from our lives completely, this can in fact make us focus on the thing more, which can hinder our chances of success.”
The study also found that more than half of adults find, when trying to cut out things like sugar completely, that they end up craving the “forbidden” snacks even more.
Despite their intentions to stick with it for the long term, 49 per cent will give up on their health goals entirely after the first setback such as enjoying a sweet treat or a night out.
While another one fifth find their goals are derailed by comparing themselves to others who are seemingly doing better – which leads to demotivation.
And as many as two thirds of those polled via OnePoll confess to feeling disheartened and disappointed if their lifestyle changes don’t lead to results fast – or even overnight.
A “social media effect” may also be at play with 47 per cent admitting they have unrealistic expectations of how quickly they’ll see results, thanks to social media and celebs.
Andreas Michaelides of Noom added: “Small bite-size changes versus drastic overhauls are more likely to lead to sustainable healthy outcomes in the long-term.
“Many people give up at the first sign of a setback, but establishing a sustainable, healthy lifestyle does not happen overnight.
“At Noom we encourage a different mindset; set-backs are to be expected – they are a part of life – but they do not equate to failure.”
Following the findings, Noom has created a quiz to allow you to find out what kind of goal setter you are, to see whether you are a “go-getter” or tempted to give up before you even begin.