Before I launch into the top 3 ways to overcome emotional challenges of weight loss, let’s talk about the bigger picture…..
Why can’t I lose weight?
Losing weight seems so simple, just eat less and move more, right?
Well, it may be a little more complicated than that.
You are counting your calories, most of the time at least, not eating much at all really, yet the number on your scale won’t budge!
You feel uncomfortable in your clothes that don’t fit and your body feels like a sponge that’s constantly expanding.
Maybe you’re feeling like there is nothing you can do about it.
Perhaps you’re thinking “I can do everything else, so why can’t I master this?”
It’s extremely frustrating and can seem almost impossible when you are managing lot of different things and feeling overwhelmed.
And every time you try something different or a new diet, it seems that it either doesn’t work, or you get really busy with work or some crisis and losing weight takes a back seat.
So if you’ve tried it all before and nothing has worked, where exactly do you start?
Maybe you’re worried that you’ll never get it under control if you don’t do something about it NOW!
The good thing is, you know what you really want.
If you’re anything like my clients, then you want more energy, better sleep and to eat in a way that feels good and gives you laser focus.
In order to achieve this, you need to know what is getting in your way, and more importantly, exactly what you can do to change it.
Here’s what most women who struggle with losing weight really want:
- Freedom of choice
- A healthy weight that comes naturally
- An end to the cravings and the struggles with overeating
- An ease around food, so that one portion is satisfying
- Clothes that always fit and look great
- To wake up everyday feeling alive, energetic and ready to succeed
- And have laser focus so that you don’t have to mentally “reset” yourself every day to have a “good” day.
What’s preventing you from achieving a healthy weight?
There are so many factors that go into losing and maintaining a healthy weight.
Your struggle in this area may actually be the result of something beyond counting calories.
You might need to address some of the emotional challenges of weight loss.
Are you confused and fatigued?
Most of my clients think their inability to lose weight stems from confusion and fatigue.
- they feel confused by all the conflicting reports, information, and diets available and don’t know what to eat to feel good and boost their mood.
- their busy schedule means they choose easy, convenient food, which is often unhealthy or full of sugar or carbs.
- they face constant demands on their time and energy which leaves them fatigued, prompting them to eat to ease the stress or pressure, at the expense of good nutrition.
On the surface it seems logical that these things are making it hard to lose weight.
That’s partly true, but the fact is, it’s the thoughts and emotional challenges that site behind those feelings and habits that are holding up weight loss.
The real emotional challenges of weight loss
Here are the common emotional challenges of weight loss that my clients experience:
They make poor choices/convenient choices and feel stressed because they don’t know themselves intimately:
- They’re not in touch with their emotions, thoughts and feelings
- They give in to other people’s needs and wants / can’t say no
- They have no time for self care including personal organisation and meal preparation.
What looks like fatigue is actually stress and/or overwhelm. It’s mental fatigue….and they try to ‘feel better’ by:
- Emotional and/or stress eating
- Taking the quick and easy option e.g. chocolate
- Eating something – especially sugar.
They feel confused and helpless which is clearly a mindset struggle:
- They have low mental energy
- They have low confidence
- They struggle with negative thinking/negative self talk eg. “I am not good enough”
- They are self-critical about food or their bodies
One thing I know for sure is that if you don’t address the emotional challenges of weight loss you will find it difficult to make progress in this area.
We are driven by our thoughts and emotions and your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings.
The simple solution
There is one simple thing you can do to change things around – start recognising when your emotions are making your eating decisions and head them off at the pass.
Let’s explore how you can do this, and start taking specific actions .
The top 3 ways to overcome the emotional challenges of weight loss:
#1- Practice Intuitive Eating
Emotional eating is often a result of not being conscious of what or why you’re eating.
When you learn how to eat to fuel your body by listening to the signals your body is giving you, rather than your emotional signals, you are eating intuitively.
You will feel the effects immediately, your energy and mood will lift and you will feel calmer and more focused.
“Intuitive” or mindful eating can help you make better choices and identify if you are feeling emotionally or physically hungry.
Firstly, you can tell if your hunger is emotional hunger because it comes on suddenly, while physical hunger comes on gradually.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Take a moment to think about what your body really needs right now
- Practise being mindful of what you are eating and why.
- Try to get into a relaxed state when eating
- Sit down to have your meals
- Focus on the taste, smell and texture of the food you are eating
- I love practising gratitude and giving thanks to all the people involved in bringing the food to my table
#2 Get organised and be prepared
Part of healthy eating is making sure your environment is set up to support you.
This means doing a bit of meal planning and preparation so you always have healthy food on hand.
Being organised and prepared puts you in control and allows you to be deliberate with your healthy food choices, so you can stay on track and keep cravings at bay.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Plan your week ahead and schedule enough time for the week for all areas of your life – work, family, AND yourself
- Schedule your best day and time for planning your meals
- Schedule shopping time (once or twice per week, or online)
- Schedule 1 – 2 food prep days
- Make a meal plan before you go grocery shopping.
Do these things and you’ll have healthy meals and snacks to take to work.
You can bulk cook at dinner time and have the left-overs for lunch the next day.
#3-Build a Healthy Mindset
Stress, anxiety, and seasonal changes are all natural parts of life – and are big triggers that can have an impact on your emotions.
Building a powerful mindset is the key to overcoming limiting beliefs and emotional eating triggers like “I need a chocolate to make me feel good.”
Here are some tips to get you started:
Get clarity on what is important to you so that you can communicate it to others, e.g.
- What makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed?
- What could you do, say or think differently?
Spend 10-15 minutes every day doing whatever you desire besides your usual chores so your brain has a rest, e.g.:
- Get lost in the pages of a good book
- Embrace doing nothing
- Start a gratitude diary
Identify the emotional challenges of weight loss that come up for you so you can make deliberate choices rather than just react:
- Keep a diary of the times and the feelings you have when they happen
- Ask yourself : What exactly is it that is triggering me to overeat or eat poorly?
- Lack of sleep – confusing hunger with fatigue?
- The stress of work, family, personal responsibilities, or maybe all of these?
- Feeling uncomfortable is social situations?
When you hop off the dieting roller-coaster and address your emotions you will be able to take control of your life, build enjoyable habits that will give you real weight loss results that you can maintain for the long term.
When you understand how your body and mind work and how your habits are formed, you will be able to make good food choices more often, and it will become become natural and automatic.
Which of these would be easiest for you to tackle right now? Let me know in the comments below.
Emotional Eating Coach
BSc (Biomed), Cert IV (PT), Health and Wellness Coach (L3)
I coach women who want to put down their fork and pick up their life. If you want to end your struggles with excess weight, stress and self-belief, using your strengths and capabilities, book a free 15-minute mini-coaching session with me and I’ll show you how to transform your life.
Want to find a real solution for the emotional challenges of weight loss?
Register for our free webinar on 8 May 2018, called
“I’m smart and capable – so why can’t I lose weight?”