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Break These 3 Rules & Hit Your Weight Loss Goal

Written by: Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC

“You should,” “You shouldn’t,” “You can’t,” “You don’t,” “You’re supposed to,” “You must,” or “Never.” When someone’s trying to change certain behaviors or reach a particular goal like weight loss, these words can feel like strict rules that eventually paralyzes a person. When these rules aren’t followed exactly, a person often decides to start over at a later time when he or she can follow the rules perfectly. Instead of trying to be perfect, I suggest you break the rules and finally reach your goals.

Person hands rip a piece of paper with label Rules

When we’re ready to change, what do we do first? We look for a system. A set of rules and behaviors to follow that will ensure we change, reach our goal and transform. Think about how many diet books, build-your-business books, organize-your-house books, etc. are out there. We like systems.


A problem develops when the system we choose doesn’t work, at least not for us. A host of negative emotions and disparaging thoughts arise from our sense of failure. Back to the starting line, we look for another system.


I’m a weight loss specialist. My clients are women who've tried numerous systems or diets to lose weight and are still searching for the one that will help them reach their goals. They’re surprised when I tell them to break some of the dieting rules they’ve internalized so that they can finally get to the finish line, their dreams, their vision.


Whether you’re trying to lose weight or you want to change something about your life, breaking some rules will free you from limiting beliefs and behaviors and let you soar!


What’s wrong with rules 


Of course, rules like laws are useful and usually necessary. This is not about breaking the law. When we open that new book or website that’s going to show us exactly how to get XYZ done, we rely on its system to get us to the goal. That system has some rules. Rules are made to guide us in behaviors that shape our results.


For some, the rules work beautifully. The rest of us struggle to adhere to them consistently. Instead of guiding us, these rules become mental hurdles, making it tough to adapt our behavior when faced with challenges. Rather than aiding us, they hold us back.


Much of the time, this is unconscious. We’re so accustomed to hearing and reading rules on how to look, how to lose weight, how to feel, and how to live that we just accept them as fact. My clients tell me the ‘rules’ about weight loss all the time. Many of those ‘rules’ aren’t true. But they’ve accepted these concepts as truths, and it’s blocking them from reaching their goals. So when we break down those rules and realize that there’s an actual gray area to work with, my clients feel a sense of freedom and ironically, it allows them to be more creative with their solutions.


Take an active role in determining what to include or exclude in your lifestyle plan based on the scientific evidence for the efficacy of that tool or rule. Then be deliberate in self-monitoring your success with these behaviors. In this way, you dramatically enhance your self-motivation and self-efficacy.


Develop your own weight loss plan


Let me paint a clear picture with a common scenario from my practice. Every diet emphasizes the importance of staying hydrated, mainly by drinking water. My clients are familiar with this guideline from their experience with several diets, but they often struggle with drinking enough water or cutting back on other beverages they enjoy. Instead of pressuring them to strictly adhere to this ‘rule’, I encourage them to ‘break the rule’ and to see it as a flexible recommendation. By taking off the pressure to be perfect, we can focus on finding realistic ways for them to incorporate more water into their daily routine.


Pick any program, book, or system that resonates with you; establish a constructive relationship with the concepts. Treat the knowledge like a toolbox: test out what works for you, and let go of what doesn't. Start by adopting, then adapting the rules to fit your lifestyle and whether or not they get you the results you want. This way, you shape your own path with confidence, hone your ability to self-regulate your progress and enhance your belief in your capacity to reach your weight loss goals. Creating your own plan doesn’t have to be complicated.


Top 3 rules to break right now

1. “All or nothing” rule

As described by Jay Foster, this all-or-nothing thinking refers to thinking in extremes. You're either a success or a failure. All-or-nothing thinking can work sometimes, but relying too much on this type of thinking can negatively affect your experience and cause a lot of emotional turmoil. If you think about your diet in all-or-nothing terms, you believe one sneaky cookie or an unplanned meal not on the diet can totally derail your goals. If it’s not 100% and you’re following your plan 90% of the time, this means you've failed. You might as well eat whatever you want. The truth is being 100% is not necessary. The women I coach learn to plan for that birthday cake, a slice of pizza, or ice cream cone.


2. “Perfectionism” rule

Akin to the first ‘rule’, the quest for perfection sets unreachable standards and magnifies minor deviations, trapping perfectionists in an endless cycle of self-judgment and dissatisfaction. This relentless chase for flawlessness leads to prolonged stress and heightens negative feelings. How does this translate? “I have to do this diet perfectly, or it doesn’t work. I’ll start it when I can do it perfectly”


3. “Failure is bad” rule

No one wants to make a mistake or fail. Yet, these moments become our greatest teachers. My clients and I spend time reframing their setbacks and recognizing errors as invaluable lessons about what doesn't work for them. Rather than viewing these missteps as setbacks, they learn to perceive them as crucial steps forward towards achieving their goals.


I understand the appeal of diet books. There's a comfort in having a clear set of instructions and feeling secure within those guidelines. We believe that following this structured path will lead us straight to our desired outcome. However, these rigid boundaries often lead people to stray from the diet, leaving them feeling disheartened and restarting repeatedly. My approach with clients is different; I encourage them to challenge these rigid outlines. I advocate for experimentation, allowing them to discern which strategies truly benefit them. It's about crafting a personalized lifestyle plan grounded in scientific knowledge and effective behavior change techniques. Ultimately, it’s about dieting freedom.


To follow me and learn more information about Midlife Confidence, health coaching and my online group coaching program connect with me through Facebook, IG, and LinkedIn.

Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC Brainz Magazine

Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC is a board-certified & Mayo Clinic-certified Health Coach and an ACE-certified Personal Trainer with a PhD. in Holistic Nutrition. She is the CEO of a 26-year coaching business, successfully guiding adults in transforming their health, fitness and weight loss. Michele has been featured in the IDEA Health & Fitness online magazine as well as numerous television appearances speaking about fitness, weight loss and health. She is the host of the Facebook group, MIDLIFE CONFIDENCE: Women Conquering Weight Loss and the creator of an online 12-week weight loss intensive for midlife women. Her mission is to support midlife women in creating their own health & wellness Renaissance.



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