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Dr. Claire Kehoe Headshot

Are You Desperate to Lose Weight?

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One of the great pleasures of my job is that I get to help people take control of their weight and health. It is a journey that I have had to take myself too, so I know how difficult it can be to change and how empowering taking action and achieving your goals can be.

One of the biggest problems we face to begin with is how being overweight can make you feel. It is far too easy to fall into a mindset where you are just not in a mentally happy place. You don't feel good, you don't like how you look in clothes and you become desperate to get out of it. But if you are not careful, this desperation can be overwhelming. In fact this desire to lose weight can become a barrier that holds you back.

One of the first problems it can raise is that you invest so much of yourself and your emotions into these negative thoughts that you can become paralysed with the fear of taking the first step. Another is that you can spend so much time and energy dwelling on ifs and maybes that you get emotionally caught up in that, and can't take the crucial step back to turn these thoughts into the positive steps required to get where you want to go.

And finally, your desperation to lose weight can lead you to set unimaginable pressure on yourself to achieve weight losses which are unrealistic. If you are not careful, you focus all your energy on taking very drastic action, whether that's starving yourself or pushing yourself to the limit with unsustainably tough exercise routines.

Desperation can lead you to set unrealistically high weight loss goals. But it's very important to remember that more than likely you did not gain weight because of a short period of excess, but as a gradual weight increase over time.

You didn't gain weight quickly, so don't set an expectation to lose it quickly. This is called 'false-hope syndrome', where your desire to lose lots of weight as quickly as possible can never be met and as a result, you set yourself up to fail. What is worse is you will feel as though you've failed even when you lose weight because the target you set is unattainable from the get go. And what happens then? You lose motivation, you lose the belief that you can change and frequently, far too frequently, you give up.

So what is the solution? First and foremost, go easy on yourself. Yes, you want to lose weight, but don't put yourself under pressure. It will not change where you are now, but it can certainly make losing weight more difficult.

I would also recommend changing the desperation into determination. It's the difference between forcing yourself and empowering yourself. When you try and force yourself, you will feel resistance. That resistance is of your own making and is just another barrier you've placed in your way. But if you empower yourself, you control and shape your journey. You take charge and you can overcome the bumps along the road.

My last piece of advice is to be realistic. I have unfortunately lost count of the times when I've had to support somebody who is disappointed when they have lost 1lb. Losing 1lb is often accompanied with the expression "I only lost 1lb". The inclusion of the word only changes the whole context of what was achieved. It belittles your accomplishment and makes losing that weight seem inconsequential. But it's not. Every ounce lost, every pound lost is a step on your journey, it should be celebrated for what it is which is, not just a great result but a healthy one too. In your desperation to lose weight, you can lose sight of the fact that you are losing weight, because the targets that you crave are unattainable.

Losing weight can be a struggle, but it can also be an exciting and empowering journey. How you approach it can be the difference between both and that in turn can affect your chances of succeeding.