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Blog Weight Loss Psychology Of Weight Loss: Here’s Why The ‘Just Do It’ Approach Doesn’t Always Work

Psychology Of Weight Loss: Here’s Why The ‘Just Do It’ Approach Doesn’t Always Work

psychology of weight loss

Almost everyone in our society today is looking to either shed pounds or maintain a healthy weight. You may have realized that fitness experts have made us believe that the key to weight loss is to make various lifestyle and diet adjustments. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is more to the story. Shedding pounds extends beyond just what we eat and how we live. It is intrinsically tied to our psychology. The psychology of weight loss looks at psychological blocks that trigger self-sabotage. Understanding and acknowledging these mental mechanisms can make slimming down a lot simpler.

Weight Loss According To The Age

The reality is that weight loss tends to be a long-term and steady process. You ought to have the right mindset if you want to lose pounds and stick to various weight loss programs. Time and time again, most people have given up on multiple programs for lack of the right mindset and motivation. 

Do you have mental blocks that are making it hard to keep with your weight loss program? Are you contemplating the start of a weight loss program but lack the right attitude and mindset? If so, take a dive into this insight on maneuvering around the psychology of weight loss. We will discuss what this concept entails, its link to weight loss, and its pros and cons. Let’s go!

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The Psychology Of Weight Loss

Probably no one needs to tell you, slimming down is hard. There are days you will feel like giving up.. This process is an uphill battle for everyone. Without a doubt, part of what makes it challenging is that we all have an emotional relationship with food.

As we all know, weight loss involves consuming fewer calories than our body burns (8). You can increase the calories your body burns by engaging in physical activity and consuming low-calorie meals. 

Of course, this is easier said than done for most people. We may have the right intentions when thinking of slimming programs, but then we find ourselves frustrated or demotivated upon implementation. 

It all comes down to the psychology of weight loss. Shedding pounds is not all about only counting the calories you consume and the calories you burn. It also comes down to your mindset, beliefs, and emotions.

Subconsciously, these aspects tend to affect your weight loss mentality. This is the cause of the mental blocks or psychological obstacles to weight loss. According to Medical News Today, if you are embarking on a weight loss program, it can be helpful to first receive counseling (10).

In this counseling session, you will determine your motivation and evaluate your mindset to trigger this change (weight loss). Visualizing or understanding these two aspects right from the start will help you stay with any weight loss program to the end (10).

Read More: How To Break A Weight Loss Plateau?

psychology anxiety because of weight loss
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Embracing Positive Psychology Of Weight Loss

Contrary to what you may think, getting the right mindset and motivation for weight loss is not so straightforward. It can be pretty challenging, especially if you are not familiar with existing mental blocks.

In a similar way, it can be difficult if you are stressed or depressed. Such instances call upon some kind of intervention to help your weight loss efforts bear fruits. For you to acquire the right mentality and attitude to weight loss, you have to do the following:

  • Reduce Your Stress Levels

Stress has so much impact on our weight. When we experience stress, be it short or long-term, our bodies release natural steroid hormones known as glucocorticoids (16). Glucocorticoids trigger the transition of precursor and progenitor cells into fat cells (16).

Similarly, when you are stressed, you are most likely going to stress eat. As you may guess, the last thing on your mind during this period will be what and how much of it you eat. Mayo Clinic acknowledges that when you are stress eating, you will most likely consume high-calorie foods and in large amounts (9). 

These may lead to a calorie surplus, which may lead to weight gain (9). We understand that we all have different and numerous stressors. They could be internal, for example, the fact that you are not losing weight fast enough. They can also be external, such as increased workloads, limiting how frequently you access the gym. 

You need to reduce your stress levels if you are going to develop the psychology of weight loss motivation. Rather than dive deeper into your stress web, try counseling, yoga, meditation, or talking to others (4). These are all powerful tools that you can use to reduce your stress levels.

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  • Set Realistic Weight Loss Goals

It is natural for anyone looking to shed excess weight to want to do it quickly. Keeping this in mind, do not be surprised to encounter individuals who want to lose 4 or 6 pounds in a week. This is just an indication of how fast they want to sweat off the pounds.

The problem with such goals is that they are realistically unattainable. If they are attainable, they do come with various health risks. WebMD acknowledges that rapid weight loss may cause gallstones, malnutrition, dehydration, and muscle loss (12).

This shows that such tremendous slimming is not the foundation of healthy shedding of pounds. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthy weight loss targets loss of either 1 or 2 pounds per week (11).

Such a target is undoubtedly achievable and manageable. This will help you build commitment, which gets you on the road to long-term weight loss. Again, this will help prevent disappointments that arise when these unrealistic goals are not met. Constant disappointments may push you to the edge and make you fall off the weight loss wagon.

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  • Seek Support

If you want to succeed at weight loss, you have to make various practices a habit. For example, eating healthy, drinking more water, and exercising regularly. The problem is, we may have multiple behaviors that jeopardize these habits.

For example, we may get busy at work and forget to exercise. In the end, we may end up making multiple work-related excuses to skip or forfeit a workout session. All these only affect our mindset and attitude toward losing weight.

To help you break this excuse cycle, get support from either your friends or family. They will help you stay on track and encourage you throughout your weight loss programs (7). It is important to note that not all friends and family members will fit the bill.

Choose the support system that understands your weight loss concerns and goals. Look for those individuals who will not judge or tempt you by exposing you to your old eating habits. Those friends that can serve as accountability partners are the best to help you stay rooted in your weight loss programs.

  • Make Small Changes

Having the right attitude to weight loss does not mean that you are trying to do everything all at once. That said, pump the breaks when it comes to implementing various weight loss practices. The reasoning behind this is that implementing all changes at once can be overwhelming.

You may end biting off more than you can chew, which could lead to frustrations with various weight loss programs. For example, cutting out sugar, going vegan, starting a workout regime, sleeping early, and drinking much water may seem achievable.

However, in reality, each change will have you remembering why weight loss is a roller coaster. Instead of making such rapid changes all at once, start by committing to one or just a few habits at a time. For example, start by drinking enough water and getting adequate sleep.

With time, these habits will fit into your schedule and allow you to build other larger ones (17). At this point, you can now consider cutting out sugar from your diet and exercising. Such steady steps will help you fully embrace these habits into your lifestyle and prompt weight loss.

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  • Have A Detailed Action Plan

Planning is significant in weight loss. It helps you avoid doing various irrational things that may jeopardize your weight loss efforts. For example, binge eating, which may increase the calories you consume. Again, planning helps you get into the right mindset even before you perform the actual activity. 

Planning can also help you avoid psychological anxiety because of weight loss. Anxiety may be caused by various stressors, such as work difficulties or relationship problems (15). These two factors may lead to emotional or stress eating, which lead to weight gain.

The best way you will get motivated for any weight loss activity is by planning. WebMD breaks this down to the development of a comprehensive action plan (1). So, take time to plan your weight loss meals or when you are going to exercise.

By making a weight loss diet plan, you will get to account for the meals and calories. You will also plan for healthy snacks, which you can consume when you are anxious or stressed. Likewise, by planning for your physical activity, you will account for its intensity, duration, and calories you burn. 

All these are efforts that can help you burn more calories for weight loss. These can be compromised if they are not well planned for. That said, you need to include an action plan in your life.

Read More: Weight Loss For Women Over 30: Easy Ways To Lose Weight As You Get Older

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  • Find Pleasure In The Process

The other foundation for the psychology of weight loss motivation is finding pleasure in everything you do. Most mental blocks or psychological obstacles to weight loss are developed when you do not enjoy your weight loss activities.

It may sound crazy telling you to enjoy a HIIT weight loss workout, I know. But often, finding pleasure in an activity by realizing it truly does good, helps you avoid self-sabotage. You will then be able to find something positive to say about the workout and its effect on the scale.

On the flip side, if you do not find pleasure in such an activity, you will always criticize it. You will blame it for your tiredness, muscle pain, and so forth. When such thoughts clog your mind, you develop blocks that discourage you from exercising.

When you do not exercise, you miss out on more than just weight loss. You will also not get to reap the health benefits of exercising like improved sleep, reduced feelings of depression, and boosted self-esteem (5).

You can make sure you find pleasure in such activities by making them fun. For example, try to listen to music if you are a music lover as you work out. Again, try to switch your exercise programs if they become boring or monotonous (6). Remember that such monotony will have you bored in no time and may push you off the exercise program for weight loss. 

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  • Weigh Yourself Less

Of course, most people want to determine if their weight loss programs are working by measuring themselves. Although it is not wrong, it can lead to demotivation, especially if you keep weighing but do not see the expected results.

Such demotivation can cause you to abandon your weight loss goals. Truth be told, you are not supposed to depend so much on these bathroom scales. This is because a lot of factors may affect the measurement they display.

For example, how you weigh yourself may affect your measurement. You may weigh yourself on one leg or with heavy clothes, further adding to your measurement. WebMD states that for correct measurements, place the scale on a hard surface, be in light or no clothing, and place your weight on your feet (13).

Again, you are not supposed to depend on these scales as they are not as reliable as you may think. Instead, you are advised to use other body measurements, such as the waist-to-hip ratio. All you need to make this measurement is a tape measure. 

The recommended waist to hip measurement for men is 40 inches or under, while that of women is 35 inches or under (3). Such measurements are accurate, and they will help you stay motivated whenever you report a change. 

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The Negative Side Effects Of Weight Loss Psychology

It is vital to get the right attitude when it comes to weight loss. This will help you stay with programs that will help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. It is worthy to note that weight loss psychology also comes with its risks.

It is indisputable that weight loss helps you reap various health and wellness benefits. However, this is not the case sometimes. Weight loss psychology may result in the following:

  • Overtraining

Yes, it would be best to have the right mentality and attitude to help you lose pounds. The caution is where some people do not know when to draw the line. You will find them overdoing with their weight loss programs, especially those with exercise routines.

In this case, routines may lead to overtraining, which does not help you see results faster. This is of course, just a myth. Over training over the long haul can backfire and lead to health issues or poor performance (2). 

With this in mind, learn to draw the line no matter how psyched you are to perform your weight loss exercise programs. Do not push yourself so hard, which is how to avoid these fatal consequences. Look out for the following symptoms to make sure you are not over training (2):

    • Tiredness
    • Depression
    • Being unable to perform at the same level
    • Loss of motivation
    • Anxiety feelings
    • Mood swings or irritability
    • Troubles sleeping
    • Excessive weight loss
    • More cols
    • Heavy limbs or sore muscles
    • The need for more extended resting periods
    • Getting overuse injuries
psychology of weight loss motivation
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  • Increased Risk Of Various Health Conditions

Losing body fat can help reduce your risk of various conditions such as diabetes and obesity. However, it may also increase your risk of different health conditions.

WebMD acknowledges that a possible unhealthy side effect of losing weight is exposure to persistent organic pollutants (14). Persistent organic pollutants are human-created compounds that are found in industrial processes (14).

They tend to be stored in your body fat tissues. When you decrease the amount of body fat you have by slimming, these compounds are released into your bloodstream (14). They may proceed to enter into your body organs, including your brain and heart.

The problem is, these compounds are theorized to be linked to several health conditions. Some of these issues include heart disease, dementia, and heart disease (14). So, when these pollutants enter your bloodstream or body organs, they may increase your risk of getting these conditions, although scientists are not certain.

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The Bottom Line

Although society has made it seem like weight loss only comes with dietary and lifestyle changes, this is not the case. Slimming is also about our psychology. As you can see from the concept of psychology of weight loss, your emotions, beliefs, and attitudes highly impact self-sabotage and success.

The wrong attitude may lead to mental block development, which triggers self-sabotage and binge or stress eating behaviors. When this happens, you affect your daily calorie range, leading to a calorie surplus. You need to maintain a calorie deficit and not a surplus for fat loss to occur.

You can acquire the right attitude or psychology of weight loss motivation in various ways. These include reducing your stress levels, seeking support, creating a detailed action plan, setting realistic goals, and finding pleasure in your programs. These practices will help you maximize your results. 

However, there are some downfalls of weight loss psychology. These may lead to overtraining, which is associated with various health risks. Again, this may increase health risks due to loss of fat which stores the persistent organic pollutants. Remember to talk to a professional before starting any slimming program.

Check out the 20 Minute Full Body Workout at Home below.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. 8 Ways to Think Thin (2007, webmd.com)
  2. Are you getting too much exercise? (2020, medlineplus.gov)
  3. Bathroom Scales Don’t Tell The Whole Truth (2005, webmd.com)
  4. Coping with Stress (2020, cdc.gov)
  5. Exercise and Depression (2020, webmd.com)
  6. Fitness: Tips for staying motivated (2021, mayoclinic.org)
  7. Healthy habits for weight loss (2020, medlineplus.gov)
  8. How can I lose weight? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
  9. How do I control stress-induced weight gain? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
  10. Lose 5 times more weight by training your mind (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
  11. Losing Weight (2020, cdc.gov)
  12. Rapid Weight Loss (2019, webmd.com)
  13. Reasons Your Weight Changes Throughout the Day (2019, webmd.com)
  14. The Downside of Weight Loss (2010, webmd.com)
  15. What to know about anxiety (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
  16. Why does stress lead to weight gain? Study sheds light (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
  17. You Can Lose Weight, One Small Habit at a Time (2020, webmd.com)
R. Mogeni
R. Mogeni

Rodah is a competent and skilful writer with a deep interest in nutrition and healthy living. Her speciality is writing articles that fall under the fitness and weight loss category. Her unparalleled style of writing and ability to explain difficult concepts in simple terms has made her garner much acclaim.
Her top priority is creating informative pieces that advocate for or propel individuals towards healthier lifestyles. She believes that health is wealth, which is why she chose fitness and nutrition as her area of expertise. She believes adopting such a lifestyle is easy, as long as you are consistent, hopeful, and disciplined.

K. Fleming
K. Fleming

I am a U.S. educated and trained Registered Dietitian (MS, RD, CNSC) with clinical and international development experience. I have experience conducting systematic reviews and evaluating the scientific literature both as a graduate student and later to inform my own evidence-based practice as an RD. I am currently based in Lusaka, Zambia after my Peace Corps service was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for some meaningful work to do as I figure out next steps. This would be my first freelance project, but I am a diligent worker and quite used to independent and self-motivated work.

Kristen Fleming, MS, RD, CNSC

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