This is Part 1 in a 10-Part Series on Common Obstacles to Losing Weight and Getting Fit.
Are you trying to lose weight but wondering why your efforts aren’t paying off as much as you’d like? Do you start a new diet every other month, only to find yourself giving up and binging on pizza and cake three weeks into it? Are working on improving your fitness yet feeling as if it’s one step forward, five steps back – and ready to throw in the towel as a result? Does it seem that no matter how hard you try, at some point along the way you end up sabotaging your efforts in one way or another? Do you have a history of reaching your goals (or at least making a fair amount of progress), only to find yourself right back where you started – or worse – within a few months or couple of years?
If you can relate to any of the scenarios above, you’re definitely not alone and you’re certainly not abnormal – in fact, far from it!
There’s a good reason some clever and obviously wise person coined the endeavor to get in shape and lose weight “the battle of the bulge”, because for many people it truly is a battle. One that’s fought (and far too frequently lost) time and again – complete with blood, sweat, and a whole lot of tears along the way.
Although it’s easy to blame your love affair with chocolate, your disdain for any apparel that involves spandex or laces, or your crappy genetics, the real reasons you’re not winning the fight are often a bit more insidious. Not to mention, they often occur at a subconscious level, which makes them more difficult to spot. Unless and until you discover what they are, you’ll very likely end up frustrated and disappointed following each new attempt.
Fortunately, knowledge is powerful. Once you identify the specific subtle saboteurs that have been holding you back – which is the goal of this series of articles – you’ll be equipped to turn things around and finally have the success you deserve! (And yes, you do deserve to have a trim, healthy, and fit body!)
Throughout this 10-part series of articles we’ll look at 20 different common, but often quite subtle, things that may be hindering you from reaching your goals. (By the way, almost all of these reasons apply to other areas of life as well. They’re not limited to losing weight or improving your fitness level.) As you go through the series you’ll probably find yourself thinking at times, “Oh yeah, that definitely sounds like me!”
Keep in mind that all of this is a process of self-discovery, so be patient with yourself. Overcoming the obstacles that apply to you will likely take some time, especially if it’s something that’s become deeply ingrained over the years. Awareness, however, is a crucial step towards positive change.
With the “success tips” listed after each section, consider using a journal or notebook to write down your lists, as well as any thoughts and feelings that come up as you go through the exercises. If this seems a bit silly or unnecessary, think of it as a way of being your own shrink. Many people have found that journaling really can be very beneficial and therapeutic. Not to mention, $5 to $10 for a notebook or journal is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for months of therapy. That being said (and all joking aside), please don’t rule out working with a licensed therapist if needed. There’s absolutely no shame in doing so if you continue to find yourself stuck in the same vicious cycle, despite having a better idea of what’s keeping you there.
On that note, let’s get started with the first subtle but incredibly common saboteur: stress.
1 ~ You’re under too much stress
High levels of stress can take a significant toll on anyone – especially over time. They’re especially common for anyone juggling multiple demanding roles (e.g. mom, wife, career woman, student, caretaker for an elderly parent, etc.) and / or trying to keep up with a hectic schedule. Making significant changes in the way you eat and adhering to a new workout regimen requires careful planning and diligent effort, which can be very difficult to fit in if you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the demands of day to day life in general.
Adding one more thing to your daily “to do” list when your plate’s already overflowing or you’re simply under a lot of stress in general may not be a good idea. Why? Because it’s often a set up for failure. Also, if you frequently feel like you’re failing in your efforts that can easily create additional stress and frustration in your life. And let’s be honest; that’s probably the last thing you need right now.
Sure, it would benefit your health (and probably your self-esteem) to lose those extra 30 pounds or get in better shape. But is the added stress at this time worth it? Not to mention, high levels of stress can actually hinder your weight loss.
It may be best to hold off on making major changes to your diet or attempting to incorporate a time-consuming exercise program until your stress level is more manageable.
- Rather than attempting to undertake major changes at this time, consider making small, incremental changes over time. For example, taking a 20 to 30-minute brisk walk 3 or 4 times a week can help reduce stress and boost your mood. Also, consider making just one small, positive change to your diet each week. One small change at a time may not seem like much, but in just 3 months you’ll have made over a dozen changes to the way you eat – with minimal stress and effort! These small changes enable you to gradually work towards your goals without adding more stress to your life. Besides, slow and steady wins the race!
- Find ways to reduce the stress in your life in various ways, such as prioritizing, delegating, cutting back on some of your commitments (if possible), and learning to say no more frequently.
- Consider incorporating simple stress-busters into your daily schedule, such as meditation (even 10 minutes a day can be very beneficial), yoga, or relaxation exercises (e.g. deep breathing exercises, guided imagery, or progressive relaxation).