5 Mental Obstacles to Overcome for Weight LossArticle posted in: Lifestyle
Losing weight is as much a mental battle as it is a physical one. If you don’t create attainable weight loss goals or let emotions affect your eating habits, you’re not going to see the long-term success you want on the scale. When it comes to losing or maintaining weight, you need to make sure your body and mind work in unison toward the same goals, which means overcoming some basic mental obstacles.
Find out how to break down five common mental obstacles that may be hurting your weight loss success so you can start to see more positive results:
1. Overeating as a response to stress.
With today’s demanding lifestyle, it’s almost impossible to not feel stressed out at some point during the day, and according to information published in Science Direct, this stress not only triggers a pattern of harmful overeating but also makes our food taste better. When we eat something delicious, an opioid release is triggered in the brain, making us want to eat more. Stress can trigger this same opioid release, causing compulsive overeating that can become a neurological habit if not counterbalanced. Additionally, cortisol, the hormone our body releases when we’re stressed out, can be responsible for improving the way our food tastes and increasing the positive feeling we get from stress-related eating.
The solution: Identify your emotional eating triggers
As stated before, stress eating can trigger a neurological reward system in the brain that makes you think you need to eat when you’re feeling highly emotional or stressed. To avoid beginning this harmful cycle, you need to identify what causes your stress or emotional eating and how to stop it before it starts. When you are feeling stressed due to relationships, finances or work, try to acknowledge these moments and use a distraction other than eating. You can keep a journal to track what triggers your stress and write down the positive coping methods that work for you—such as walking, reading, talking to friends or engaging in any hobby. If you’re into yoga, you can quickly overcome one of the toughest mental obstacles. One study in Complementary Therapies in Medicine found that performing regular, formal yoga sessions at home can be useful in treating binge eating.
2. You’re bored with your healthy routine.
An issue for many, boredom can cause us to give up on healthy eating and fitness habits before we even start. Whether you’re bored with the types of healthy foods you’re eating, or you find that your workouts aren’t getting you pumped up, you may not be able to sustain anything long enough to see weight loss results. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology explains that boredom can cause the need to escape with food and increase snacking, specifically with unhealthy yet exciting foods that are high in fat and carbs. This leads to creating yet another one of these mental obstacles.
The solution: Try new healthy foods and fitness activities
In the aforementioned study, participants labeled as highly self-aware increased their consumption of both less healthy foods as well as exciting, healthy foods (crackers and cherry tomatoes) after watching a boring movie clip. These findings indicate that boredom does indeed trigger the desire to snack—but it doesn’t necessarily have to be unhealthy foods. If you find yourself bored and about to binge, make it something interesting and healthy. For ideas, check out South Beach Diet’s 10 Healthy Snacks to Keep in Your Kitchen >
If you find your workouts are what bore you, make sure to switch up your exercise style. Try alternating between running, weight training, yoga and HIIT to keep things interesting. Changing up your workouts will also help you strengthen different muscles to increase your overall results and avoid weight loss plateaus. You can also check out our fitness section right here on The Palm for tips, tricks and workouts that work.
3. You’re afraid of regaining weight.
Fear is a very real emotion that can stem from our prior bad experiences and inhibit our progress. You may feel afraid of trying to lose weight only to repeat the cycle and gain it back—frustrating, angering and depressing you in the process. This fear of failure is very understandable and common. To squash this nagging, negative feeling of fear, you need to separate your behavior from your emotions and learn how to keep your goals intact despite minor setbacks.
The solution: Brush off minor setbacks and focus on the big picture!
The way to beat this negative feedback loop, according to Mayo Clinic, is to realize and accept that losing weight and living healthy are not temporary pass or fail tasks but instead lifelong goals that are achieved through personal improvement and successes. Mayo Clinic also suggests that it may be mentally beneficial to set both short-term and long-term goals. So, say you have a bad day and end up eating some fast food. This should not be compounded into a long-term failure since you can have a setback, which is a natural part of life. You want to create a long-term outcome to work toward overcoming these mental obstacles. Take a look at the big picture of getting healthy, and use your short-term goals to keep moving forward!
4. You’re lacking motivation.
While losing weight can be a short-term goal for some, many people would rather keep weight off and maintain their weight in the long term. Maybe you aren’t even motivated to try to lose weight, or you have hit a plateau and feel the loss of motivation because you’ve stopped seeing results. If you feel lazy or unmotivated to lose weight, you’re unlikely to get up and work out or eat well-balanced meals. According to information published in Wiley Online Library, successful weight maintenance is strongly associated with personal motivation and the ability to enact coping strategies to combat the risk factors of gaining weight, such as binge eating due to stress.
The solution: Set SMART goals and reward yourself
While support from friends or family can help you find motivation, one study published in Patient Education Counseling indicates that the ultimate motivational power lies within yourself! Short-term goals, self-monitoring and reward systems (with something other than food) have proven to be positive tools for overweight adults. Additionally, work on creating S.M.A.R.T goals, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited goals. These types of goals are more focused and likely to be achieved because they are well-thought-out and tailored to your specific lifestyle.
5. You’re not sure where to start.
When it comes to losing weight, your biggest issue may just be that you don’t know how to make a healthy lifestyle work for you. Crash diets, counting calories and intense fitness regimens may be temporary fixes to a long-term solution and can lead to a series of mental obstacles to overcome. If you want to really lose weight and keep it off, you need to create a foundation for your healthy eating and fitness habits with a support system to maintain them in the long run.
Solution: Seek help with the right weight loss program
If you’re someone with a lack of know-how when it comes to healthy eating and fitness habits, it never hurts to ask for help. While everyone is different, many people can benefit from a weight loss program that offers guidance for positive nutrition and exercise habits. South Beach Diet not only offer nutritious meals that are ready in minutes but also acts as a resource for anyone who needs accessible and welcoming help in losing weight. Choosing the right weight loss program for your needs can ensure you have the support you need throughout your journey to create a sustainable healthy lifestyle. Check out our guide for 10 Tips to Make Healthy Living a Lifestyle >