The Business of Failure

Why would anyone go into business if they thought they were going to fail? Despite the statistics of new start-ups that plunder in the first three to five years (two-thirds in two years, 44 percent in four years) not one of them would say they took the leap of faith because they knew they would fail. Failure is not a goal, at least not for anyone who sets out to do something they dream about. So why then do people try every new diet fad year after year when they know, or may be it is because they don’t, that they are doomed to failure? Is it desperation, blind faith, or the belief that “this time is going to be different?”

Consider the research that reports that 95 percent of those who diet are guaranteed failure, and of the five percent that do see some results, 95 percent of them gain it all back and then some in three years. These statistics say it all. Go on a diet and you will most certainly fail. What kind of winning proposition is that? Would you invest 100 percent of your assets if you knew that you would lose 95 percent? That’s exactly what society has done with its health, particularly its nutrition, and why the current obesity epidemic is not going to go away for quite some time. What is it about dieting that makes it so popular despite its low success rate?

The American way is that we want it fast and we want it now. With certain aspects of life, this thought process may deliver. However, our bodies do not work that way. Despite all the media hoopla, all the sensationalized TV shows, and an impatient, reactive society, the body’s resistance to dieting is nature’s way of saying, “you lose – I win.” Our bodies are designed to do one thing and that is to keep us alive.  Here’s a little history lesson to prove why diets never work.

Long ago before Wawa and Starbuck’s, there was man and the land. To survive, he had to eat. To eat, he had to hunt and gather. When there was nothing around to hunt or gather, he relied on stored energy (body fat) to keep him alive. Unfortunately, there were times when this could go on for several days with little to no food and the reason they did not die (fail) was because of the body’s natural defense against starvation. Like starving, restriction of calories (a.k.a. dieting) tells the body to enter into its survival mode. Survival mode involves slowing of the metabolism (energy conservation), increase in fat storage enzymes (storing energy), decrease in fat burning enzymes (energy utilization), and an increase in the hunger response. Dieting, although planned, is nothing more than premeditated starvation. The struggle begins when an attempt to drop weight is met with the body fighting to keep it. The winner in this endless struggle is the body. By restricting calories, the body is programmed to battle and resist every effort to drop weight. The simple truth in this is that diets cannot and do not work, despite all the gimmicks and tricks that are sold to us. If it were just as easy as cutting calories back and avoiding all the food we crave, the diet statistics would paint a different picture. 

Dieting is not about losing weight. Dieting is about quick fixes and remedies to resolve lingering problems that cannot be corrected overnight. It is psychologically, physically, emotionally, and socially draining. It is about disobeying the laws of nature and developing habits that are not conducive to most people’s lifestyles. Even the word diet says d-i-e. Healthy living and avoiding controllable failures is all about lifestyle. In 10,000 years, man may have adapted to his new surroundings but his survival mechanism has not, and when our society has come to understand that concept, we will be in the business of success.