Figuring out what you should be doing to lose weight is often not the most difficult part. Your plan might include consuming more healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein, while avoiding other foods such as refined grains and processed foods. You also might have a goal to do more regular exercise, whether it’s walking, playing a sport, or going to the gym. However, the plan only works if you have the motivation, willpower, and dedication to make it happen.
People often have various excuses for not succeeding with their weight loss programs, such as a lack of time or money, or dealing with stress.
However, many healthy foods are inexpensive (for example, eggs and lentils), you don’t need to spend any money for certain forms of exercise (such as yoga and bodyweight exercises), most people should be able to fit in at least 30 minutes a day of exercise, and eating healthy and being active can alleviate stress. The most challenging part of sticking to a weight loss plan is overcoming the psychological barriers. You probably have the time and resources available to drop those pounds you want to see gone. It’s simply a matter of having the mental strength to succeed.
Psychological Barriers to Eating Healthy
Psychologically, it can be hard for many people to eat healthy. Perhaps you grew up eating foods such as breakfast cereals, hot dogs, and frozen meals that you now know don’t contribute to good health. When you’re at the grocery store, it can be tempting to put some of those foods in your cart because of their taste, their familiarity, and the memories you have of eating them. Before you go to the grocery store, you should make a list of only healthy items to purchase, and stay disciplined to stick to that list.
People often choose taste over health benefits when selecting foods, but this doesn’t have to be a choice. There is a perception that healthy foods don’t taste good, but this viewpoint is normally held by people who don’t take the time to cook meals with healthy ingredients. To overcome the psychological barrier of craving foods that are tasty but unhealthy, spend more time in your kitchen preparing delicious and nutritious meals. Try various ways of cooking (such as baking, steaming, roasting, and sautéing), and add herbs and spices. You’ll save money by cooking more, and you’ll be more successful at losing weight.
Social settings provide psychological challenges for people trying to lose weight. When you go to a party you may think it is insulting to turn away food that the host offers, even if the food is unhealthy. A strategy to combat this is to talk to the host well in advance of the party about your diet and health goals. They will probably want to help you out by including meals and snacks at the party that you will enjoy and feel good about eating. When you’re starting a meal plan, it’s a good idea to invite friends over for a gathering. This way you can control what is served, you encourage your friends to eat healthy, and you feel positivity from your friends in relation to your weight loss goals. This will make it much easier for you to stick with your plan.
Another psychological challenge is staying on track when you hit a speed bump. Don’t have the mindset that you need to eat perfectly healthy all the time for your weight loss program to succeed. There will probably be times when you eat unhealthy foods, but don’t let that take you off course. The reality is that as long as your eating habits improve (even if there are some hiccups along the way), you will lose weight. You should have the mindset of an athlete who is trying to win a game or match. A tennis player, for example, shouldn’t expect to hit every shot perfectly in a match. The player can win the match by hitting more good shots and making less mistakes than the opponent. In the same way, your weight loss program will succeed as long as you make more good choices than bad ones.
Constantly getting on the scale and hoping for quick results can be another psychological barrier. Most people shouldn’t expect to lose more than a pound or two a week. You need to consume enough calories daily to maintain your strength and energy, and to ensure you are meeting all of your nutritional requirements. Not eating enough, with the hope that the weight will come off faster, can cause harm to the body. A vigorous exercise program will help accelerate weight loss, but this also increases the need for sufficient food intake. The more calories you burn, the more calories you need to take in. As a weight loss strategy, go on the scale no more than once a week. If you give yourself a target of dropping 20 pounds in five months, for example, you’ll feel success each week when you lose about a pound.
Psychological Challenges to Exercise
People have numerous options for selecting an exercise program to help with weight loss, including running, cycling, swimming, skating, yoga, and resistance training. Most importantly, you need to find something you enjoy. If you find running boring and it hurts your joints, try something else. Maybe a low-impact activity like swimming is better suited for you. As a strategy for staying motivated, involve friends or family in activities such as cycling to a park, canoeing, or playing a game of beach volleyball. Psychologically, people need to feel engaged and connected for their exercise plans to succeed. Try numerous sports, physical activities, and methods of training to find out what works for you.
Adding muscle burns calories, which helps for weight loss. A common way to achieve this is weight training in a gym. It can be a challenge for people to know which exercises to do, and to learn the proper form for these exercises. But these aren’t the biggest hurdles to overcome. The biggest obstacle is psychological. If you wake up feeling tired, or you get busy doing other things, you might lack the motivation to make it to the gym that day. You should schedule your workouts into your calendar the same way you do for your appointments. It can help to plan workouts with a friend. You don’t want to let that friend down by not showing up.
Creating reasonable expectations is important for an exercise program to succeed. Don’t expect to develop ripped abs or huge muscles with a few weeks of training. Set weekly goals such as adding 20 seconds to a plank, doing 10 more pushups, or running for 10 more minutes on the treadmill. When you have the mindset that it takes time to build strength, flexibility and endurance, and to lose weight, you’ll appreciate the small successes you make along the way. This mindset will also help you choose the right exercises for your progression. For example, suppose you have a goal of doing 50 full pushups a day to accelerate your weight loss plan. If you’ve never done a full pushup before and you try to do a lot at once, you may injure yourself. Psychologically, if you feel you haven’t succeeded, it can be difficult to stay motivated. It’s best to start with simple exercises you can succeed at, such as knee pushups or wall pushups, before progressing to a full pushup and eventually meeting your goal of doing 50 full pushups a day.
Involve Family and Friends
Another psychological barrier to weight loss involves the perceptions and support of others. It can be difficult for overweight people to go into a gym, thinking that others are judging their appearance. It can be intimidating to be surrounded by a group of fit people who are working out if you are not healthy yourself. This may prevent some people from exercising as much as they want, hampering their weight loss progress. It’s important to realize that most people in the gym are supportive, and they want to see others around them succeed. Many fit people you see in the gym were at one time overweight themselves, so you can use their experiences as motivation. Try to make as many friends as you can in the gym so you feel comfortable in the environment.
People trying to lose weight don’t always have the support of family or friends. Perhaps you are trying new recipes to help drop some pounds, but those recipes may not appeal to others in your household who you cook for. You may be trying a new sport to get more exercise, but that might be taking away time you spend with friends. To help gain the support of family and friends, involve them in your activities as much as you can. Encourage them to get healthier, to try new foods or new sports, and you can work together as a team to achieve a healthy lifestyle.