5-Star Wellness Retreat

20 Common but Subtle Weight Loss & Fitness Saboteurs (Part 9)

tired woman leaning on tree

This is Part 9 in a 10-Part Series on Common Obstacles to Losing Weight and Getting Fit.

In this second to last installment of our series, we’ll be looking closely at two common saboteurs.  Both essentially involves losing weight or getting in better shape for the wrong reasons.  The first involves being pressured or nagged by someone else, rather than doing it for yourself.  The second focuses on identifying any serious flaws in your reasons for losing weight, such as trying to impress others or looking like some borderline-anorexic celebrity. 

17 ~ You’re being pressured to change your body

Losing weight or getting fit for someone else is a great way to set yourself up for failure.  At the very least, you’ll end up resenting the person who’s nagging or pressuring you to do so.  In case you haven’t already discovered this for yourself, resentment usually makes you want to do the very opposite of whatever you’re being pressured to do.  Even if you really try to make an effort to please, satisfy, shut up, or prove something to the other person by trying to improve your body, you’ll very likely end up sabotaging your efforts at some point. 

Unfortunately, people are pressured to lose weight or get into better shape all the time.  Most often, it’s a significant other, such as the husband who’s less than thrilled with his wife’s post-baby weight gain or the wife who’s turned off by her middle-aged husband’s bulging midsection.  Sometimes the concern is legitimate, for example, if the excess weight or lack of fitness is contributing to health problems.  The person doing the nagging is genuinely and legitimately concerned.  Regardless of the reasons, if you try to lose weight or get in better shape for anyone but yourself, it’s going to backfire in one way or another.

If you’re carrying around extra weight, you’re most likely keenly aware that it’s there.  If you’re out of shape, you know it better than anyone.  Having someone else point it out and nag you to do something about it is just going to hurt your feelings, make you feel worse than you already do, or cause you to dig in your heels. 

Success tips:

  • If someone’s pressuring you, one of the best (although not easy) things you can do is have an open, honest conversation with that person.  Let the person know that while you appreciate his or her concern, this is something you need to do when and if you’re ready and motivated to do so – and that feeling pressured isn’t helping at all. 
  • Make a list of all the ways you would benefit if you did lose weight or improve your fitness, especially if you know deep down that it would improve your health and your life.  If the motivation comes from within, your chances of success will increase substantially.
  • If the person who’s nagging you is being petty, selfish, or blatantly disrespectful, it may be time to consider couple’s counseling (if it’s a significant other), set clear boundaries, or perhaps even sever ties completely  if he or she refuses to stop – especially if all that extra stress is making you want to eat everything in sight!

18 ~ Your reasons are seriously flawed

If you’re overweight or out of shape, losing those extra pounds and improving your fitness will benefit you in many different ways.  For example, you’ll reduce your risk for countless medical issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure, have more energy, feel more confident, and probably give your self-esteem a significant boost.  And of course you’ll look better in (and out of) your clothes!

However, many people set out to improve their body for all the wrong reasons, such as in response to pressure from someone else as we discussed above.  Granted, there’s some degree of subjectivity to what constitutes a “wrong” reason, but here are a few to consider:

  • You want to be “thin” to impress others
  • You’re trying to look like a celebrity (or someone else) you idolize
  • You’re trying to prove something to yourself or someone else
  • You feel unlovable or unworthy unless your body is “perfect” (or awfully darn close) according to society’s superficial standards (or your own rigidly high – and likely unrealistic – standards)
  • You’re obsessed with reaching a certain clothing size or number on the scale (e.g. the weight you were in high school) – often one that’s too low (not to mention unrealistic) for your height and bone structure to be healthy

As you can see, the reasons listed above are either superficial, involve flawed thinking (e.g. “I’m only lovable if I’m thin”), or both. They have nothing to do with improving your health or feeling better physically.  Reasons like these generally elicit feelings of frustration or resentment at some point, which almost always lead to self-sabotage.

You need more solid reasons if you want to lose weight, get in shape, and maintain your results once you achieve them. 

If your “why” isn’t primarily about improving your health and taking good care of your body, then it’s time to rethink your reasons.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to look better, feel more attractive, or be able to wear clothes you love. But those are really “side effects” – the icing on the cake, if you will – of having a fit, healthy body. 

Success tips:

  • Review the reasons you want to lose weight or get in better shape. Write them down and consider their importance in the big picture of life.  For example, is looking like a popular, but waifish, celebrity really worth practically starving yourself? If your reasons are superficial or irrational, it’s time to do a serious revamp of your list.
  • If improving your health and overall wellbeing aren’t on your list (preferably at the top!), ask yourself why. It may be you’re actually hoping to resolve an “internal” issue (e.g. low self-esteem, loneliness, or feeling unworthy of love) by changing something external (i.e. your body) – which doesn’t work.  Consider other ways to address the internal stuff (e.g. therapy), so you won’t end up sorely disappointed (when you discover it didn’t work) and sabotaging your efforts. 

Part 10 will cover how using food to cope with negative feelings or how depression can undermine your attempts to get fit.