March 17, 2016

How often do people start a weight loss program or diet, only to lose motivation and forget their goals after a few weeks? Luckily there are some common influencing factors which actually have solutions.

  1. Lack of support

Family, friends, co-workers and others you’re in regular contact with can be discouraging. Whatever the strategy you’re using for losing weight, they’ll have a counter-argument. They’ll know someone who said what you’re doing is bad, or they’ve read something on the internet, or what they learned in high school 30 years ago said that you need to eat (insert food here) for (insert reason here).

If this negativity happens too often, it can so annoying and frustrating that it’s just easier to quit than follow through with your plan. It’s especially hard if the negative person is a prickly sort, one whom you don’t feel that you can argue with and still maintain a civil relationship.

Solution: Rather than giving up, plan a response that shuts down the conversation (in a friendly manner) but doesn’t involve you justifying the reasons why you choose to eat the way you do. It could be as simple as “I feel better when I eat this way.” If that doesn’t work, try something like “Do my food preferences negatively affect you in some way?” Both responses shut down further conversation.

  1. Stress

When you have a lot going on in your life and you’re struggling to hold it all together, you may feel like you run out of energy for the new eating plan and so forget your goals.

The problem with stress is that it produces the hormone cortisol, a response to fear. Cortisol increases blood glucose and insulin levels, which cause fat storage, and impacts on sleep quality which further sabotages weight loss.

Solution: Fixing stress is hard. You usually can’t do much about eliminating the stressors, but the events themselves are not what affect you: it’s your response to the stressor that causes the damage. Instead of “reducing stress”, look for ways to manage your response to it:

  • Meditation or yoga helps some people.
  • Assessing finances and creating a budget may help.
  • Evaluate what you want to achieve with your eating plan and determine if that’s more important than some other things that steal your time.
  1. Internal dialogue

What sorts of “truths” do you tell yourself on a daily basis? What do you believe about yourself and your ability to successfully lose weight?

What you believe produces thought; what you think about produces action.

The beliefs you have about Friday nights, for example, might be that take-away food and a glass (or two) of wine is essential. You think about and plan which take-away, sometimes feeling stressed about the consequences, but nonetheless end up doing exactly as you’ve been thinking.

The result might be that you feel bloated and guilty or whatever negative emotion fits. Then you feel bad about feeling bad and start wondering whether there’s any point continuing with a healthy eating plan; after all, you’ll just break it again next week, right?

Solution: What about planning an alternative? Cook double during the week and freeze it in take-away containers. Then just microwave and enjoy: just as quick and easy and a whole lot cheaper. Perhaps find a take-away that fits with your eating plan. Make adjustments to the other meals on that day to allow for the take-away.

When starting your new eating plan, know that you’ll make some mistakes. This is OK. If your plan involves making permanent, life-long change – which it should – a few slip-ups here and there will make little difference. Aim for excellence, not perfection.