There is a mental side of weight loss which must be overcome. For you to be successful at weight loss, and then keeping it off, you need to understand that you need to examine every aspect of your life that has led to your weight gain. Without examining how you think about food and the effects it has on your body and mind, your success will only be fleeting at best.
Face it, if your thinking does not change, if you do not create a new lifestyle for yourself – you will always see yourself as that person with a weight problem. If you do not change the way in which you see yourself, you will always resort to your former ways when life gets tough. Odds are high that you will reach for poor food choices when you feel as if life is crumbling down around yourself.
Numerous studies have demonstrated a positive association between obesity and various mental health issues, including depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and substance abuse. Obesity impacts individuals’ quality of life, with many sufferers experiencing increased stigma and discrimination because of their weight. (1)
We can count calories, exercise our butts off, and do all of the right steps to lose weight, but because of the mental side to weight loss, we must examine every fiber of our being. When your mind is not fully into it, you are likely to be a part of the 95% failure rate for dieters. I say this not because these words are what I have read and remembered – this is also my personal experience!
Unfortunately, some individuals who lose weight experience a return of pre-existing psychopathology or the development of new psychosocial issues. Those who experience weight regain, regardless of the approach to weight loss, also remain at risk for the return of unwanted psychological symptoms. (1)
As you can see, weight management after weight loss must be a continuing effort on all fronts. We still have to care for the mental side of weight loss as we do the physical side. The ramifications of not caring for both, will most often lead to regaining all lost weight, and then some.
Calories In VS Calories Out
There is evidence that higher levels of stress is associated with higher levels of body weight, potentially by increasing energy intake and decreasing physical activity, leading to a state of positive energy balance. For this reason, here at David’s Way, we teach to “Make your world small”. In other words, learn to quit stressing over that which you have no control over. I live my life by the principles of the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference, living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; taking this world as it is and not as I would have it. Amen
The results of a national survey about weight loss barriers finds 90 percent of respondents discounted one of the most important factors — your mind. A neuropsychologist says the most crucial factor is your psychological relationship with food and exercise, yet the majority (60 percent) listed diet and exercise to be the biggest barriers of weight loss, and only 10 percent of people thought psychological well being was the biggest barrier to weight loss. (2)
Think about this, in overcoming obesity, only 10% of those attempting to lose weight consider the mental side of weight loss. Is it any wonder there is a 95% failure rate for dieters? In order to lose weight and keep it off long term, we need to do more than just think about what we eat, we also need to understand why we’re eating. You and I both know that if we are overweight, we are not binging on healthy foods – we are binging on foods with very little to no nutritional value and high in calories.
What Can You Do?
- Keep a daily diary logging your food and your mood, and look for unhealthy patterns.
- Identify foods that make you feel good and write down why you eat them. Do they evoke a memory or are you craving those foods out of stress?
- Before you have any snack or meal ask yourself: Am I eating this because I’m hungry? If the answer is no, look for the root of your motive.
Long-term weight loss starts in your head. In order to succeed at weight loss, you have to “cut the mental fat. Only that will lead to cutting the waistline fat.
Temper Your Expectations!
One major mental block to weight loss is wanting too much, too fast. Healthy weight loss is too slow to satisfy most dieters. Dieters almost always want immediate results – even though it took them years to gain weight. Most dieters have no patience with the recommended 1-2 pounds per week once they decide to lose weight.
Find a Support Network!
We all need support, especially during the tough times. Find a friend, family member or support group you can connect with on a regular basis. Studies show people who are connected with others, whether it’s in person or online, do better than dieters who try to go it alone. Never be ashamed to admit that you have to address the very real mental side to weight loss my friends. You will find that you are not alone in this when you reach out to others.
(1) National Library of Medicine National Center for Biological Information
(2) Science Daily
Here is a little something I wrote 3 years ago about one of my methods of stress relief.