What’s Keeping You from Losing Weight? How to Overcome the HurdlesAugust 4, 2021
How to Overcome the Hurdles of Weight Loss: In the last 20 years, the prevalence of obesity continues to increase among adults in the United States. In 1999-2000, about 30 percent of adults were considered obese, according to data from the CDC. Today, that number tops 42 percent. These increasing trends are frightening as obesity-related health problems, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, are some of the leading causes of preventable and premature death.
Furthermore, having obesity increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and is a leading predictor of mortality from COVID-19.
Unfortunately, as many people who are overweight understand, weight loss doesn’t always come easily. Difficulty losing weight can be the result of biological, mental, or behavioral factors.
Mental / Behavioral Hurdles of Weight Loss
People who struggle with their weight are often fighting a mental battle. Weight loss isn’t always about diet and exercise. Still, it can be difficult to pinpoint the psychological factors contributing to your weight gain or inability to lose weight. Here are some of the most common mental hurdles obese people experience.
The little things you do day in and day out without even thinking, such as not getting enough sleep, drinking too much liquid calories or sugary beverages, not drinking enough water, drinking a beer or cocktail every evening, grabbing an extra snack on the way out the door or hitting up the drive-thru on your way home from work are all habits that can contribute to weight gain. But it’s not just enough to recognize the habit; you must understand the underlying cause or driving force behind the habit.
Evaluate your emotions, stress level, and other circumstances that might be causing you to turn to bad habits, and address those issues first, before attempting to break the habit.
Inability to say "no"
Do you worry too much about what others might think if you turned down the offer to go to Happy Hour after work? Are you concerned you’ll hurt your coworker’s feelings if you don’t eat the cookies she brought to work today?
Just because you have to say “no” to something doesn’t mean you will be considered rude or ungrateful. What’s most important is how you take care of yourself. If that means making different choices to support your new healthy lifestyle, so be it.
In the U.S. particularly, we have developed a culture centered on food. We eat when we’re happy, when we’re sad, when we’re stressed and when we need comfort. While food may temporarily make us feel better, a habit of emotional eating will only lead you down one road — the road to excess weight and even obesity.
If you struggle with emotional eating, talk to your doctor or seek help from a behavioral psychologist who can help you address the underlying issues causing your dependence on food as a means of comfort.
Are you embarrassed about how you look? Are you afraid to go to the gym because you don’t sport the muscles of a bodybuilder? First and foremost, you must remember that everyone at the gym or in that fitness boot camp is there because they are trying to improve or maintain their own health. And many of them are just as self-conscious as you.
So don’t be so ashamed by what you see in the mirror that you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to change that reflection; consider working with a personal trainer who can instill in you the confidence needed to make exercise a regular, healthy habit.
An all-or-nothing mindset
Please get this important truth through your head: you are not a failure simply because you had a bad day and didn’t stick to your nutrition plan or make it to your workout.
We all make mistakes, and with each new day, we all have an opportunity to make better choices and try again. So even if it’s been a while since you’ve consistently worked out or eaten a healthy diet, don’t give up. It’s never too late to get started again.
Fear of fat
Sugar is the enemy, not fat. Remember, not all fat is bad. We’ve been so conditioned over the years to assume that the only way to eat a healthy diet is to cut out the fat. The truth is, there is such a thing as healthy fat and eating the right amounts of healthy fats — such as fatty fish like salmon, hummus, avocado, Greek yogurt, grass-fed beef, and nut butters — can help improve your blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk of developing heart disease.
Don’t be fearful of fat. Learn to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats, and along with a well-balanced diet, you can enjoy those healthy fats in moderation.
It’s human instinct to compare ourselves to others, but using other’s experiences as the basis for your choices will leave you spinning your wheels.
So stop worrying so much about what hot new diet or exercise trend your friends have jumped into and focus instead on remaining consistent with what you know works for you.
It’s never too late to get healthy. We all experience weight loss plateaus from time to time. When you run into that stall, it doesn’t mean you’ll never drop another pound. When you have a lot of weight to lose, it may fall off quickly at first. But those last 10 or 20 pounds could take months to lose.
So whatever you do, do not give up. Instead, stay focused on what you have accomplished this far and keep your eyes fixed on your goal. Stay committed, and you will reach that goal, even if it takes you a little bit longer than you hoped.
Biological Factors That Keep You From Losing Weight
Any time you attempt to lose weight, do you feel like your body is fighting back?
If so, it’s because there are natural processes in the human body that regulate body weight and fat levels. This complex system of signals that control appetite, digestion, energy balance, and metabolism work together to keep your weight at a steady level.
While diet and exercise are essential for health, these two factors alone are often not enough to fight obesity or overcome the hurdles of weight loss long-term. Not only will your body work hard to maintain that “set point,” but when your weight or body fat percentage drops below a certain level due to diet or increased calorie burn, your body may think it is approaching starvation. Biological defense mechanisms are activated to prevent starvation. This is true even if you are overweight and have fat to burn.
Fortunately, we have learned that people who are obese can lower the set point and achieve significant long-term weight loss. A “reset” happens when the relationship between food and metabolism is altered.
One way this can be achieved is through bariatric surgery. Instead of simply fighting against the setpoint, weight loss surgery can actually recalibrate it by altering the production of hormones that stimulate hunger and weight gain. Once the weight is lowered long enough, a new set point is achieved.
If you are overweight, nobody really understands what you are going through unless they have walked in your shoes. People who struggle with their weight are often afraid to reach out for help. But seeking support does not indicate weakness. Instead, it indicates a sincere desire to make a change and finally see results happen.
If you can relate to any of the struggles listed above, maybe it’s time to take that next step. Make that appointment and see if weight loss surgery is right for you and help you overcome the hurdles of weight loss.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Thomas Roshek specializes in the treatment of obesity and performs sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, gastric balloon and revisional weight loss surgery. He also specializes in the repair of abdominal and groin hernias/complex abdominal wall reconstruction. Dr. Roshek works at the Nicholson Clinic for Weight Loss Surgery, one of the country’s premier destinations for weight loss.