6 Ways To Overcome Psychological Blocks To Weight Loss
What Is The Mindset To Lose Weight?
As we all know, changes to our daily routine and diet can be some of the hardest to stick to. Whilst we always stay vigilant for the affects of diet culture, we believe helping those who want to lose weight, to do so sustainably is one of the best ways to fight it.
As we discussed in our previous piece on steps to lose weight sustainably, a key part remains the psychology on how we approach our desire for weight loss, which begs the question, what is the mindset to lose weight?
Although this answer includes a number of components, the key is patience. This means slowly establishing new habits and routines, eg: instead of committing to running every day, going to yoga and starting a plant based lifestyle all at once, strive to change one or two habits at a time, aiming to make the small changes first.
Now we've got mindset sorted, it's time to understand what psychological blocks we may encounter, and how we can overcome them:
1. You're Stressing Over Food
Stress can be a huge psychological block to losing weight, often being a big part why restricting your diet generally leads increased weight gain over time. It's important to understand that our bodies respond well to eating in stress-free environments and that concepts around dieting, restricting and depriving are usually the starting point at which we begin to struggle.
To overcome this factor, try your best to be appreciative for the body you have currently, not just the one you hope to have moving forward and understand weight loss is process in which there is such a thing as trying 'too' hard!
2. You're Restricting Your Diet
Ironically, dieting is often another top psychological block to weight loss. Even though we may feel we are limiting our food intake (of carbs, sweets, whatever) in many cases hunger pains lead to us eating more, often alone at night where our metabolism is slower, and feeling the need to hide our behaviour to deal with the shame of 'failing the diet'.
Here, the key is to look at big picture. Although non-dieting often triggers fear of gaining weight, when we consider that oftentimes all we're doing is losing and putting back on the same mass, it's clear that diets don't work. By giving up dieting and no longer obsessing over food, you're forced to consider the psychological reasons for overeating, which is where the difference can be made.
3. Negative Body Image
The first thing to make clear, is there's nothing wrong with wanting to improve your health or your appearance. However, that definitely doesn't mean you should hate the body you're in currently either. Negative body image is usually tied to an individuals self-worth, but what you may not realise is that determining your worth by your body, shape, size or the food you eat often gets in the way of success when trying to develop healthy eating habits.
If this is you, pay attention to your self-talk. If you find yourself repeating negative messages about yourself and your body, try to identify one or two messages that may be encouraging a negative self image and write them down. You can then challenge these with a powerful mantra such 'my body is strong' or 'I am enough' which can be used to replace negative self-talk each time you notice it.
4. The Scales
Checking your weight on a daily or weekly basis is stressful! It's also often a yo-yo, feeling great when the number goes down, then like s*it when it next goes up (even when it's often for uncontrollable reasons, like water retention).
There's a simple answer here. The scale has to go. To overcome the psychological blocks to weight loss, the emotional rollercoaster of regularly weighing yourself has to stop.
5. You Hate Wasting Food
Many people have hangups from childhood about the idea of wasting food. These can be deeply ingrained and difficult to overcome and can often lead to overeating.
The key here is to focus on honouring your own hunger and fullness. Whilst understandably, wasting food is never ideal, this should never placed above listening to your own body.
6. All or Nothing Thinking
If you find yourself walking a thin line between sticking to your weight loss plan religiously, or sacking it all in completely, then this is for you. Psychologists call this a form of 'cognitive distortion' - in other words, persistent exaggerated thoughts that are not in line with the real world. Studies have shown this thinking style is closely linked to a perceived lack of control over eating.
If you go all the way back to the top of this post, you'll be find what's most important here. Patience. Setting short-term goals along with taking small steps towards them can help to break this negative thought cycle. First, identify one specific healthy change that is reasonable and attainable. Consider using a journal to keep that goal front of mind and give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small!
We need to be aware of how much of a part our psychology has to play on our ability to lose weight healthily and sustainably. By understanding what blockers we may be encountering, it allows us to be vigilant in future, and whilst making change is never easy, we can all agree that knowing which direction to look is hugely important.
Try to be kind and always remember that you're enough! ❤️
At jrny, we are made up of a team of Sports Scientists and Registered Nutritionists. We want to make sure that we’re not just putting up the pseudo-science you’d see on other sites. If any of our staff put anything on our blog that relates to your health, you can bet that it is backed by evidence-based science! It always will be. That’s our commitment to you.