Clean Eating and Weight Loss: 4 steps to distinguish setbacks from failures


There is no question that clean eating and weight loss can go hand-in-hand. But there will also be setbacks on the scale that you won’t be able to overlook.

clean eating and weigh loss: 4 simple steps to distinguish setbacks from failures

Each week you’ve learned a new habit from me. For over half a year, I’ve shown you ways to get your healthy habits on autopilot.

In this week’s challenge, I want to help you put things into perspective when it comes to losing weight in the context of clean eating.

Setbacks versus failure

The weight loss journey does not follow a straight path. Sometimes you move in circles, and sometimes you will even seem to move backward. It is not always easy to distinguish this typical pattern from real failures.

However, differentiating the two is important because real failure means that you did something wrong. In the case of failure, you’ll have to change your weight loss concept and do something different than you have been doing. Only if you accept something as a failure you are ready for something new that delivers a real opportunity for success.

But how could healthy eating be wrong?

Apparent failures that in reality are only setbacks; they are part of the typical change. Possible setbacks are:

  • you got distracted
  • you made a mistake
  • you were exhausted
  • you caved into pressure
  • you lost your willpower
  • your schedule got messed up

But, overall, you keep going one day at a time.

clean eating and weight loss setbacks

The typical, daily setbacks

Many things that seem to be a failure are in reality only results of expectations that are too high.

With the 52-week clean eating habit program, you are introduced to a new challenge each week. You know that small changes have the potential to add up to some serious improvements in your weight loss and quality of life.

Of course, there will be challenges that won’t work for you. This is ok and does not count as a failure. Everybody is different.

That’s why I made it clear right from the beginning that implementing all of the proposed habit changes should not be your goal. If a challenge goes against your core beliefs, just skip that habit and continue focusing on the other changes you have already made.

But there will also come a day where you fail an important “keystone habit” you really wanted to stick to. This is human. If you aren’t able to stick to this habit repeatedly, don’t think you are a loser.

Ask yourself instead if your habit change was based on the three basic rules that make habits stick:

  1. reliable triggers
  2. easy and realistic
  3. offers a small reward that you enjoy

=> Read more about this technique in my advanced approach “How to change eating habits”!

Clean eating: How to break through the weight loss plateau

Smart tips to break through the weight loss plateau (+ free checklist)

Someday you will arrive at a weight plateau. From a nutrition standpoint, you might do everything perfectly and yet you are still unable to drop any more weight. This condition could last for several weeks. It is quite normal in this situation to start wondering if you did everything right.

You can’t fix a plateau instantly. After some time – and nobody knows how long it takes – the weight loss process will continue again.

The perfectionism trap

Do you want to lose weight but aim for perfect success? Do you interpret everything that is not so perfect as a failure? Don’t do this. Each pound lost is a success, each improvement in your eating habits is worth being proud of, even if there will always be slimmer or fitter people than you.

However, if you interpreting the steps in the right direction as a success, it will be easier for you to stick to the challenges.
If, however, you look at yourself as a loser while trying to reach your weight loss goal, then you are standing in your own way. Don’t let perfectionism be the enemy of your healthy habits.

That’s why I just aim for an 80% clean eating in my concept while 20% is reserved for optional diversion.


4 simple steps to distinguish setbacks from failures

Step 1: Print out the Checklist showing all 52 habit changes (PDF-file)

Step 2: Get a magic marker

Step 3: Mark each of the 28 weeks that you managed to meet a challenge

Step 4: Now take a close look at it! After more than half a year, hopefully, you see several chains of habit changes. Maybe you see some interruptions here and there, but overall you should see several habit chains.

Do you see them? Congratulations, you are on the right path!

Just keep going, one day at a time! The interruptions are only setbacks and are a part of the process.
As an example, you see below a chart with my habit chains. It is not perfect. I’m skipping two challenges…
I don’t use the “cabbage soup as a starter” because I don’t want to lose more weight;)
But I will still use it in the future from time to time after Christmas or birthday weeks…
I’m also skipping the “trampoline jumping challenge” because I haven’t bought a mini-trampoline yet.

But overall there are many chains without interruptions giving me the great feeling that I’m on the right path with my changes.

habit chains for clean eating and weight lossAs each chain will grow longer every week, psychologically it will make it harder for you to break the chain. The opportunities for weight loss will gain momentum while your number of setbacks will decrease.

You don’ t see any chains?

What should you do if you couldn’t build any chains at all or you seldom see any chains without interruptions? If you just started, this is ok. But if you joined my challenge months ago, it’s time to talk…

Could this clean eating challenge be a failure for you? Do you think that being healthy isn’t worth this kind of effort? Before you decide to give up, please do me a favor. Just send me an email and let me know what is preventing you from sticking to the habit challenges. Together, we might be able to find a solution.

Bottom Line

People make mistakes resulting in setbacks and failures

You can’t change this fact. Don’t let your mistakes discourage you. If you use them instead to learn and make it better in the future, you will succeed. Failures and setbacks might be frustrating, but they are also very useful. It just depends on how you respond to them

Now it’s your turn!

I have shown to you above my habit chains. How many unbroken chains do you have until today? Please let me know in the comment section below!