I wrote last week about developing a weight loss mindset – because for some people, the psychology of weight loss has to be addressed.
That doesn’t mean that losing weight is “all in your head”… far from it. Everyone who wants to lose pounds needs to understand healthy eating and reasonable portion sizes, and be prepared to make lifestyle changes. And we all struggle with the challenge of creating a positive body image in spite of the media’s portrayal of unrealistic expectations.
It’s hardly your fault if the barrage of perfect bodies from the media and advertising has programmed your expectations to some degree, but look around – real, average people don’t look like that very often, and that’s okay. You don’t need to have six-pack abs to be attractive and appreciated.
The Psychology Of Weight Loss
Anxiety, depression, shame, self-criticism, and eating disorders such as binge eating can all make achieving and maintaining a healthy weight challenging.
These challenges can require professional counseling to overcome. I spoke to one obese woman who admitted to “rage eating” because of her anger at some issues in her life. She knew she was eating in an unhealthy manner but felt out of control – and recognizing and admitting that out of control feeling is the first step to getting help. There is help out there.
Some people use exercise to self-sabotage a healthy weight, which sounds bizarre. Here’s how it works – they go out and do a good workout, which is great for muscle-building and body-shaping. Then, they use the 200 or so calories burned to justify eating a 1400 calorie snack.
The Harvard Medical School measured calories burned working out in 2014. Here are the numbers:
A half-hour weight training session: 90 calories for a 125 lb person, 112 calories for a 155 lb person, or 133 calories for a 185-pound person.
Running is one of the strongest cardio workouts, but even running burns about 252 calories per half hour, depending on your weight. Jogging is roughly 200 calories in a half hour.
None of this says that exercise is bad for you, but it’s not particularly helpful for weight loss, especially since it can trigger hunger in some people. It does help later in keeping the weight off, since muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does… and it certainly helps in looking shapely.
Stress Blocks Weight Loss
I’ve written before about stress, and while some of us have to make lifestyle changes to reduce stress for our health, emotional stress can take more than that. Hypervigilance, PTSD, and even unhappiness can raise the hormone cortisol to levels that make losing weight very difficult, because it slows your metabolism and triggers fat storage as a survival response.
It’s Okay If You Can’t Do It Alone
Many people struggle with reaching out for help when they are blocked from achieving their ideal weight or other goals. When our feelings, beliefs, and behaviors are all in alignment, weight loss is very doable, but ignoring the psychology of weight loss can stop you achieving your goal, so don’t hesitate to reach out. That’s one of the reasons we offer a free initial consultation here in our Hawaii weight loss practice.