Starting A Diet? 5 Things You Need To Know Before


Starting a diet can often be an impulsive, emotionally-charged decision that leads to rushing into an unsustainable approach. You ultimately end up just as unhappy, out of control, and frustrated – if not more! – a few weeks later. Before starting a diet, it’s important you have clarity on what to do – and not to do. This will set yourself up for successful, sustainable weight loss.  This article will share five critical questions to ask yourself before starting a diet to help ensure you’re prepared for lasting success.

A Question Before You Diet #1: Why Are You Dieting?

Push past your surface-level, top-of-mind answer of “to lose weight” and get down to the truth:

Why are you dieting?

No, seriously, why?

This is one of the most overlooked questions when it comes to preparing to diet. Yet, it has proven to be one of the most powerful contributors to lasting success. You want to answer this question with the utmost clarity.

Here’s why: dieting is a significant physiological, emotional, and psychological stressor. 

Encountering challenges along the way is inevitable and if the only reason you have working for you is to simply see a certain number on the scale you’ll remain steadfast in your commitment to appropriately-portioned, nutrient-dense foods for as long as a card tower remains upright once a gust of wind comes in…

In The 5% Community, one of the exercises you’re asked to complete as a part of the onboarding process is our “7 Layers of Why”. This exercise prompts you to share why you want to lose weight (or reach any goal, to be honest). It then proceeds to prompt you with the question of why six additional times (for a total of seven times). 

The purpose of this exercise is to dig deeper each time you’re prompted with yet another why.

The end result?

An emotionally-charged, clear why that will help you remain steadfast during times of temptation and difficulty during your diet; it will remain your lighthouse, or, north star, throughout the course of your diet. Therefore it helps you to attain the goal you committed to.

For instance, a member of our 5% Community ultimately arrived at this powerful statement upon completing this exercise,

“I want to finally lose these last 15 pounds and keep it off for good because for once I want to see a goal through until the end. I want to feel the sense of accomplishment, confidence, pride, and fulfillment in my life that’s been missing for so long!”

Powerful AF. 

And an essential exercise to complete before starting a diet.

For more information and tangible action steps you can take to clarify your why, check out episode 169 of The 5% Way Podcast, “The Power of Understanding Why You Do What You Do and How This is Crucial to Long-Term Success.

A Question Before You Diet #2: What Does Success Look and Feel Like? 

Again, your answer to this question should be about much more than the number on the scale.

Are you sensing a theme here?

Success should be rooted in elements you have one-hundred percent control over. The scale is not one of those elements. It will fluctuate wildly, even when you’re incredibly consistent in your food choices. 

To determine what success looks like during a diet, focus on elements you do have control over. Set your goals accordingly. 

Here are a few to consider:

  • Having 95% (or better) compliance to your individualized nutrition blueprint during the week
  • Meeting your daily hydration or step goal six or seven days per week (or 95% in total during your diet)
  • Meeting your weekly exercise goal of four workouts per week

If you can meet those goals – and you do have 100% control of each – you can guarantee that you’ll make great progress toward reaching the true goal you’re seeking: a desirable feeling(s).

There is another aspect equally important as knowing what success looks like during a diet. That is understanding what success feels like. 

Behind the mask of your current desired weight is a collection of feelings or emotions you aspire to feel now. When you set a weight loss goal, it’s really the collection of feelings that you’re chasing. It is not actually a number on the scale.

The Number on the Scale

Think about your current goal weight right now…

Why did you select that number?

Chances are, you weighed at or near that amount previously. The reason that number comes to mind now is that it was a period in which feelings of confidence, joy, control, certainty, serenity, and inner peace were present.

If you take a deeper look, it wasn’t that scale number that served as the root of your positive feelings. In reality, this was the byproduct of you making yourself and self-care a priority!

Gain clarity on how you wish to feel at the conclusion of the diet. Whether it be sexy, strong, healthy, energetic, in control, or at peace, make sure you’re clear. 

And make sure you do this before starting a diet. 

Want to know what your real ideal weight is – what is also known as your happy weight? Check out our recent article to learn how to find your happy weight.

A Question Before You Diet #3: What Does the Path to Success Look Like? 

Once you’re clear on what your goal is, what success looks like and feels like, and why you want to attain that goal, you need to ensure you have a proven path in place to attain it.

If you don’t have a path to attain your goal, how will you ever know if you’re moving in the right direction?

Fortunately, many people just like you have shared similar frustrations and gone on to attain similar goals, which means a proven path alongside effective action steps already exists and you don’t need to try and come up with your own plan!


BUT – and read this carefully – it’s imperative that you follow a path and set of effective action steps from someone who’s walked this journey AND sustained their results. This couldn’t be any more important when it comes to weight loss in our social media-dominated world.

Don’t Get Fooled by the Media

It’s easy to see a lean, beautiful person on Instagram and to think she looks like that year-round. In reality, she may be using the same collection of photos from a single shoot she took YEARS ago that she specifically dieted for and looks (and feels) nothing like that in the present moment.

I share this with you to urge you to do your homework and be patient when choosing a path to follow. You want to ensure that the person you’re learning from is walking the walk him or herself and has sustainable (repeatable) success to model. For instance, between Coach Micheala and I at The 5% Way, we’ve each mastered significant weight loss and helped thousands of women just like you lose 10,000+ pounds and keep it off for good.

Significant, sustainable, replicable results. 

Click here to apply to join The 5% Community and become one of the five percent who has achieved significant weight loss – for good!

A Question Before You Diet #4: Where Are You NOW? 

When you are starting a diet, it’s important to be aware and honest with yourself about where you are now.

  • What does your self-talk look like?
  • What do your current grocery shopping and meal prep routines look like?
  • How consistent are you with your exercise regimen?

To get to where you want to go, you need to first understand where you are. For instance, if you and I both are embarking on a goal of losing 50 pounds and you’ve already lost 40 pounds and I’ve yet to lose a single pound, wouldn’t you agree that where we are now is going to significantly influence the action steps we prioritize moving forward?


Understanding where you are now will help you prioritize where to focus your time, energy, and effort at the onset as you begin working toward your goal. 

Take the time to write down and describe your present state as it relates to the following areas and then write down your desired state for each. This exercise will allow you to see the gap between each and support you in prioritizing where to start:

  • How does your self-talk sound?
  • Do you have a morning routine in place that helps you feel your best?
  • Do you have an evening routine that supports quality sleep?
  • What do your grocery list and shopping routines look like?
  • Do you have a meal preparation routine in place?
  • What does your exercise regimen look like?
  • How much time are you taking each week to further your knowledge and grow?

A Question Before You Diet #5: Where Have You Been? 

This final question builds off of the above question. It’s important to understand where you are now, but also important to understand where you’ve been before starting a diet.

I do not encourage you to dwell on, or live in, the past, rather, to use it to learn from. In the case of trying to start a diet so you can lose weight and keep it off, you may consider asking yourself the following questions to gain clarity on where you’ve been:

  • What has worked well in the past when trying to lose weight?
  • What has worked well in the past when trying to sustain weight loss after a diet?
  • What has NOT worked well in the past when trying to lose weight?
  • What has NOT worked well in the past when trying to sustain weight loss after a diet?

By honestly answering each prompt above you’ll be able to clearly see what you can take and replicate for this upcoming diet and what to avoid to ensure you don’t make the same mistake twice. 

Are You Ready to Start A Diet?

If you take the time to patiently and honestly answer each question above before starting a diet, you’ll be well on your way to being as prepared as possible to begin a diet. 

For further information about how to best prepare for a diet that yields significant, sustainable weight loss, I cannot recommend enough that you listen to episode 167 of The 5% Way Podcast, “Am I Ready to Diet? The simple checklist you need to review to ensure you’re prepared for a successful diet.” 

Click here to begin listening (or to also read the transcript).

Ready to Move on from Cyclic, Dead-End Dieting?

And to finally keep the weight off for good while reclaiming the confidence, control, and inner calm you need to feel, look, and be your best?

We are here to help.

In The 5% Community, we help high-achieving women frustrated with the dieting industry and stuck in the yo-yo dieting cycle reclaim their confidence, control, and inner calm so that they may achieve sustainable weight loss and feel, look, and be their best.

The 5 Percent Community is our 12-month, signature sustainable weight-loss experience and transformational program designed to help you not only achieve your weight loss goal for good, but to empower you with the confidence, control, and inner calm you desire to feel, look, and be your best.

Sustainable weight loss from the inside out.

It’s designed to provide you with a clear path, proven plan, specific action steps, and unmatchable accountability and support needed to transform your mindset, belief systems, self-talk, habits, and nutrition behaviors – the key elements that need to change – in route to significant, sustainable weight loss.

Click here to apply and schedule a call with founder and Registered Dietitian, Paul Salter, to learn more. 

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Paul Salter

Paul Salter is a Registered Dietitian and Founder of The 5% Way. Since 2013, Paul has worked one-on-one with nearly 1,500 men and women, helping them to collectively lose tens of thousands of pounds of body fat and keep it off for good. He’s also published nearly 1,000 articles, two books, and 175 podcast episodes (and counting) on all things related to our five core elements of sustainable weight loss.

The Maintain My Weight Loss After A Diet Blueprint

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