This is Part 4 in a 10-Part Series on Common Obstacles to Losing Weight and Getting Fit.
This next part of our series focuses on two of the most powerful hindrances to reaching your weight loss and fitness goals – both of which are usually indicators of a low self-esteem. The first is the belief or feeling that you don’t deserve to have the slender, fit body you desire, and the second involves a lack of confidence in your ability to succeed. If you’re struggling with either of these, you can almost guarantee they’re impacting other important areas of your life as well (all the more reason to work on overcoming them!).
6 ~ You feel unworthy of having the body you really want
Feelings of unworthiness are one of the most common hindrances when it comes to losing weight or getting into shape. If you feel unworthy or undeserving, it’s difficult to allow yourself to have anything good in life, whether it’s a fulfilling relationship, a career you love, or a svelte, fit, healthy body. No matter what goal you set for yourself, if you don’t believe you deserve it you’ll inevitably sabotage your efforts to achieve it.
If you’ve been overweight most of your life – and especially if you’ve been teased, bullied, put down, or rejected as a result – it may be especially difficult for you to believe that you’re worthy of . These negative messages will go even deeper – and be more difficult to ignore – if they came from your parents during childhood. They can severely impact your self-esteem and lead to a negative body image that’s difficult (but not impossible) to overcome.
Even if you were fit and slender growing up and gained the excess weight in adulthood – for example during pregnancy or after a few years in a stressful, sedentary job – your self-esteem may have taken a serious hit as a result.
Unless and until you address the unworthiness issue, you’ll either keep sabotaging your efforts to get in shape and lose weight or gain all the weight back if you do reach your goal. This creates a vicious cycle because each perceived failure further reinforces the belief that you’re not worthy, which is why it’s so crucial to address this issue.
Fortunately, low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness are things you can overcome, but it will take some work.
As Oprah Winfrey stated emphatically and compassionately on the final episode of her long-running TV talk show, “You are worthy because you were born.”
- Make a list of all the reasons you believe you’re unworthy of having the body you desire (and any other good – but seemingly elusive – things you’ve always desired). Respond to each one as if you were helping a loved one look at himself in a more objective and positive light.
- Make another list of all your positive qualities and successes in life (no matter how small or seemingly insignificant). You can use this second list to help you refute the reasons in your first list.
- Consider working with a therapist if your feelings of unworthiness go particularly deep (often due to a history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or other trauma).
7 ~ You don’t believe in your ability to succeed
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you‘re right.” ~Henry Ford
One of the key factors in achieving any goal you set in life – whether it’s getting in shape or starting a profitable business – is believing that you can succeed. If, deep down, you don’t believe in yourself – in your ability to do something – the odds are very high that you’ll prove yourself right. In other words, that belief turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When you don’t believe in yourself you’re much more likely to do the following:
- Sabotage your diet
- Give up too soon
- Have a hard time getting back on track whenever you slip up
- Look for things that reinforce your self-doubt (e.g., if you give in and have a sugary treat or miss a workout, you say to yourself something like, “See? You can’t do this; you don’t have enough willpower!”
- Struggle constantly to stay motivated
If you’ve tried to lose weight or get in shape before, but failed to reach your goals, then believing in yourself is going to be a challenge. Past failures aren’t the only things that can cause you to doubt yourself. If you’ve set really big goals you may struggle with believing they’re actually attainable. (By the way, it’s important to note that there’s a difference between “really big” and “completely unrealistic”, although sometimes it’s difficult to recognize the difference.) Another issue that can fuel your self-doubt is wondering if you’re genuinely motivated enough to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Fortunately, struggling to belief in yourself – although certainly a common hindrance for many – isn’t an insurmountable obstacle. You don’t have to have 100% unshakeable self-confidence to reach your weight loss and fitness goals; rather, you just need to have enough faith in yourself to keep moving forward each day, and pick yourself up and brush yourself off (and forgive yourself) when you make mistakes along the way.
- One of the best ways to conquer self-doubt is to remind yourself of all your past successes and accomplishments. Take some time and make a list of at least ten goals you reached or things you’ve accomplished in the past 5 or 10 years. Use it to remind yourself that you are capable of reaching goals you’ve set for yourself.
- As mentioned previously, break your big goal into multiple smaller ones that don’t feel so daunting (as discussed earlier in the section on unrealistic goals). Losing 50 pounds can seem like an impossible task, even though people do it all the time. But losing 5 or 10 pounds probably seems a lot more doable, right? Studies have shown that success really does breed success. As you reach each small goal your self-confidence and belief in yourself will get a much-needed boost. (And if you need to set really small goals (e.g. losing two pounds or running ¼ mile without stopping), that’s okay – this is your journey, not someone else’s!)
- Get support from others along the way. It’s easy to get stuck in self-doubt and lose sight of your strengths. Don’t hesitate to ask for an occasional pep talk from a close friend or loved one, or join a support group or like-minded online community for encouragement as you work on your goals.