Does the thought of trying to lose weight make you feel stressed?
You're not alone. And in my experience, getting stressed about your weight loss is one of the biggest obstacles to success.
People who get stressed about their weight loss are much more likely to give up.
But when you think about it, it's no surprise that people would associate a lot of stress with losing weight.
After all, for many of the clients I see, they have struggled with their weight for decades. And with a long history of failures behind them, it's no wonder that even the thought of trying to lose weight fills them with dread.
But it's more than that. We, as a society, are in the grips of a diet mentality. We believe that weight loss and dieting are the same thing. They're not. But what it means is that people think:
1. Weight loss = deprivation
2. No pain, no gain
3. The quicker the better
Ask most people what things they associate with losing weight, it will most likely be deprivation, missing out on good times and spending long stretches of time feeling hungry while watching other family members eat heartily. In other words, weight loss is misery.
But more than the deprivation, is the overarching feeling that if you're going to lose weight, it has to happen quickly. This sense of urgency coupled with unrealistic expectations means that when things don't go to plan, it stresses us out.
So what's the antidote to weight loss stress? Relax.
But to be more specific:
1. Abandon all deadlines
Don't try and lose weight in a hurry. It will just make you do short-term things (like starving yourself) instead of long-term things that are sustainable. Don't try and lose weight to a schedule. It can't and wont' happen.
I often say to clients "in a year's time, you're not going to remember if it took your four months or five months to lose your weight", which is another way of saying, when you take the time pressure out of it, and think long-term, then the stress is off.
2. Enjoy life
Stopping all pleasurable activities like eating out or going on holiday (vacation) is a big mistake. And yet this is what many people do when they are trying to lose weight.
If you can't do all these things while losing weight, then how likely are you going to be able to do these things once you've reached your ideal healthy weight?
If you make weight loss a fun-less experience, of course it's going to create more tension and make you want to get it over and done with as quickly as possible.
3. Think long-term
Many people treat losing weight like it's a project. But weight control is a way of life.
And so whichever ways you cut back what you're eating or whichever changes you make to your exercise or activity regime, always make sure that the changes are ones that you're willing to do for the rest of your life.
A Stress-free zone
Life can be stressful enough as it is, without adding to it by getting stressed about losing weight.
You should be more stressed when you're doing nothing about your weight, than when you're taking positive healthy action.
The best strategy is to remove the time pressure, abandon your expectations and always think of the long-term.
Remember: "If weight loss feels like a struggle, then you're doing it wrong."
For more about a behavioural approach click here