When it comes to weight loss, what stops you or slows you down from reaching your goals? Different people might have different challenges that they’re likely to struggle with during their weight loss journey. Have you hit a plateau, or are you even just having trouble getting started in the first place? It can often be of help to take a cold, hard look at the facts, to see where our weight loss weaknesses may lie and determine the best way to overcome them.
Weight loss challenge 1: It’s hard to make time for exercise.
Do you dread having to set aside hours for exercise each week? With life being so busy as it is, exercise is often the last thing we want to do at the end of another busy day. However, exercise also happens to be one of the best ways to relieve stress while doing something really great for the body.
If exercise is something you tend to put off, the key might be to modify your exercise goals so that your routine is more manageable to your own style. Maybe you signed up for the gym, but getting there just isn’t practical. There are tons of free workouts available to view on YouTube, and it hardly takes any effort at all to slip on a pair of sweats and head out for a quick jog around the block.
Weight loss challenge 2: Stress and emotional eating often get the best of you. Do you find that your diet goes out the window as soon as stress rears its ugly head? It could be the daily stress of a high-pressure job, or maybe your emotional eating happens after arguing with your partner or dealing with the kids.
Emotional and stress-related eating are valid problems in that when our nervous system goes into overdrive, it makes our brain crave the feel-good buzz that we get from high calorie or sugary foods. Sugar and carbs release serotonin which is calming.
One way to avoid binging on bad-for-you foods when feeling stressed or under pressure is to find other, healthier outlets for releasing stress in the body as it builds. Yoga is a highly effective method for resetting the parasympathetic nervous system after a stressful encounter, or just to offload tension from the body at the end of another tough day. Anything rhythmic and weight bearing, such as jogging, also literally shakes loose any tension that might be hanging around the muscles of our bodies, to ground our nerves and burn calories to boot.
Weight loss challenge 3: Giving up alcoholic beverages isn’t easy. A common challenge of people who are trying to lose weight is giving up or reducing the amount of alcohol consumed on a regular basis. First, alcohol raises the blood sugar, and the commonly enjoyed beverages of choice tend to be beer, which contains higher amounts of carbs, and wine, which is just slightly lower carb. Another issue is that drinking alcohol often leads to a case of the munchies, which can have us searching out fattening snacks late at night just before bed.
If you’re going to drink alcohol while on a diet, your best bet is to choose lower-carb beverages such as dry red wine, or some of the lower-carb beers which are likely higher in water content than anything else. Limiting to just one or two drinks per session is also a smart compromise that will allow you to indulge in a few drinks but not put you into a state of inebriation where the urge to eat lots of fattening foods quickly follows.
Weight loss challenge 4: Lack of support from family and friends. Many people say that being overweight tends to run in families, implying that this is a genetic predisposition. However, it might be worth taking a constructive look at the types of foods your family typically eats and that you were raised on.
You may have grown up in a house where large portions and fattening choices such as mac and cheese or fried foods were common. If you are now making a practice of eating more salads and fresh veggies, while limiting high calorie, high-fat choices, your family may not understand. If your family’s influence is making weight loss difficult for you, you have a few options. You can either sit down with them and explain your wish to adopt healthier eating habits. Or, if they continue to resist, you can either bring your own special foods for when you visit with or eat with them. If all else fails, you might try to avoid being around family at meals.
Weight loss challenge 5: Late-night snacks are your weakness.
Probably one of the most common obstacles to weight loss are that the refrigerator and snack drawer call out to your during the late-night hours. Maybe you enjoy watching TV before bed, and the habitual practice is to cap off your night with something sweet, or munch on cheese and crackers or chips.
The best way to break yourself of this habit is simply by replacing your stash of unhealthy snacks with healthier choices, like plain yogurt or whole wheat crackers. However, if you have kids this can be a problem since they typically enjoy having a few junk foods available. One possibility is to “hide” the snacks in a place where it will be more challenging for you to reach them – like an out-of-the-way cabinet or in a latched storage bin that makes a lot of noise when you open it.