Overcoming The Mental & Emotional Aspects of Weight Loss
Today I discuss the mental and emotional aspects of weight loss and my tips for overcoming them.
I’m sitting here in my hotel room in Bend, Oregon with my four-year-old and one-year-old.
We’re on day 4 of 5 in this hotel, and we’ve mostly been hanging out watching TV shows we don’t have at home and trying not to kill each other.
And even though I should be happy to be spending a little extra time with my husband (who occasionally travels for work), I’m about to *officially* lose my mind.
Hey. You try keeping two kids under the age of 5 happy in a tiny room for 5 days!
Anyway, I’ve had a lot of time to think. Sometimes that’s a bad thing, sometimes it’s a good thing.
If you follow Ironwild Fitness, you’ve probably noticed that it’s been pretty quiet around here lately.
That’s because I’m suffering from some serious confusion with where I want the blog to go, what I want to do with my “career,” and my own personal fitness journey.
I had previously been writing for “SEO” or with “growth” in mind. I was on fire for a little while there after Sawyer was born in January of 2019. And I was losing weight – reaching my pre-pregnancy weight well before my son’s 1st birthday. But all of that feels different right now.
So today, I am just writing to vent, touch bases with my readers, and confess my transgressions. 😉
This seems to be a cycle I go through – I enjoy copious amounts of motivation and productivity – followed by a big slump in which I question everything and progress comes to a halt. I know that about myself now – it’s a pattern I’m learning to respond to less emotionally. LOL.
What Does This Have To Do With The Mental & Emotional Aspects of Weight Loss?
I have said this before, but just because I am a certified personal trainer, that doesn’t mean that I always eat well and exercise regularly.
In fact, the sad reality is that I thought that becoming a personal trainer would make me highly accountable, but it hasn’t.
That’s partially because I’m still also technically a “stay at home mom” and I don’t have a job, schedule, or clients that keep me moving. (That all sounds like excuses in my head, oops.)
What I’m saying is that even I struggle with the mental and emotional aspects of weight loss.
I’ve been sitting at the same weight for probably six full months now.
And even though I’m at my pre-pregnancy weight from baby #2, I just can’t get anything else to budge. (I started at 163 lbs and fluctuate between 160 – 163 lbs.)
What could have been six months of strides in the right direction was basically 6 months of struggling.
Eat crappy. Skip the gym. Feel bad. Get back on my feet. Try to eat healthy. Go back to the gym.
Right now I’m that “low” slump of the cycle.
But for some reason it’s taking me longer than usual to “get back at it.”
And I KNOW that there’s a simple solution for me – (JUST GO BACK TO THE GYM!)
But it feels like there’s a mental block hitting me hard right now.
It’s that whole, decade-long history of depression, I guess.
But I know what to do! I’m conscious of the things that can help me. I can pull myself out, but why don’t I?
It’s like I’m paralyzed by thoughts. By the fear that moving into the next phase of the cycle will, well, just keep me in the cycle.
HOW DO I BREAK THIS CYCLE?
I feel lame just reading my own thoughts right now. But really. How?
Because honestly, fitness is in theory, “easy” for me.
I love to work out. I love the endorphins – I love the gym. Vegetables taste good to me. I love feeling healthy.
But mentally? Emotionally?
I have a longggg way to go.
I’m one of those people that has one thing go wrong and I throw in the towel. Panic ensues. It’s a problem.
Oh, shit, I ate a few french fries. Might as well eat some ice cream and a bag of chips, too!
Ya know what I mean?
How do you become more consistent? Is there a way to stop responding to life’s stressors in such an emotional way? How do you stop playing the victim?
I think back to the times when I was healthy and happy.
During my healthiest and happiest years, I wasn’t super focused on my food. I was busy – I had a job and a social life. And I moved enough that I didn’t have to worry about my food every day.
I think, “How incredible would it be to stop thinking about food, weight loss, and whether or not I’d exercised on any given day?”
Honestly, the circumstances of my life have changed so much that I need to make changes accordingly. I need to pull myself out of my own way.
Luckily, there are two things that I have been doing that seem to work when I’m committed. Today I want to share those things with you.
Doing these two things have helped me feel more in control and motivated in life overall, so I hope they help you, too.
Overcoming The Mental & Emotional Aspects of Weight Loss
Step 1: Get On A Schedule Or Make Tweaks To Your Existing One
I’m not going to tell you to be on a super strict schedule (c’mon, I’m a mom), but you should be on a tentative one. Why?
Because penciling in time to do the things that are important to you makes you much more likely to do them.
If you don’t have a plan to go to the gym, are you sure you’ll do it?
If you don’t set aside time to meal prep, can you ensure that you’ll eat healthy all week?
I have personally found that my productivity increases majorly if I schedule things in daily or weekly.
If I don’t do this, I have a tendency to struggle with things that should get done. Here are my top priorities daily (weekdays):
- Kitchen Cleanup & Laundry
- Read to Babies (I am so bad at this)
- Writing Time for the Blog (I am easily distracted and not always motivated!)
- Tidying Bedrooms & Living Room
How To Overcome Your Lack of Motivation & Get Shit Done
Creating a new habit is hard. You’re not always going to be motivated. That’s why things need to be habits. You can’t wait around to get motivated! That’s not going to lead to consistency, which are key factors to success in any area.
First, you need to write a short list of the things that are most important to you on a daily and weekly basis. These aren’t always the things that you’re doing already – they are the things you should be doing.
Neither of your lists should have more than 5 things, or you’re going to get overwhelmed.
Next, create a loose daily & weekly schedule around those important tasks. Give yourself extra transition time and pencil in some time for relaxation or “whatever.” Basically, make sure that you’re not overbooking yourself, and make sure that you’re being realistic.
Next, put alerts in your phone or calendar. For the first several weeks, you’re going to want to get an alert every time you need to transition to the next activity. Even if it’s something like, “Get Dressed.”
I’ve included my tentative schedule (that I keep on my phone) below as an example. (You’re seeing an old schedule from when I was trying intermittent fasting.)
As you can see, I’ve penciled in even seemingly obvious tasks like, “get dressed” and “lunch.” That’s not because I think I’ll forget to do these things, rather, I’m focused on the timeliness of these things. Each task is an important precursor to the next.
After you’ve completed your daily tasks for several days in a row, it’s time to reevaluate and tweak your schedule. Then continue to use alerts and reminders until you’re truly in a routine (usually a minimum of 21 days).
I find that making this change and following a real schedule has helped me a lot as a type-A personality and a stay-at-home mom.
I get more done and I am way less likely to sit around feeling sorry for myself. Not only that, but my house is cleaner and I feel healthier – which makes me feel like I’m doing right by my children! It helps me tear down the mental and emotional aspects of weight loss.
Important: Don’t get upset or overwhelmed when life hits and you can’t follow everything to a T. Just get back to it as soon as you can!
Step 2: Focus On Yourself A Little More
If you want to address the mental and emotional aspects of weight loss, you need to love yourself more. Taking care of your self can increase your self-esteem and motivate you big-time. It sounds like something selfish to do, but the rewards you will reap by taking better care of your mental and emotional health will pay off.
There are many ways to focus on yourself. For me, spending a little extra time on my hair or makeup is a form of self-love. Another thing I really enjoy (and seem to benefit from) is focusing on personal development in the form of books or podcasts.
I highly recommend podcasts like Rachel Hollis’ RISE podcast because they resonate with me so much and they leave me feeling ready to conquer. (You can also check out her best-selling book!) These types of things encourage me and confirm so many things that I already know about myself.
After all, self-care is self love.
And when you love yourself more, you have more passion, love, and support to give others!
So, tell me.
Do you feel like you’re truly addressing the mental and emotional aspects of weight loss? Or are you too focused on short-term fixes like fad diets and temporary stints at the gym?
Are you self-aware enough to know that you need to address the emotional aspects of weight loss?
Wow, this was a great article! I resonate with so much of what you said. Sometimes a weight loss/fitness/health journey is so lonely, especially when you start peeling back the layers of mental blocks or emotional issues. I love the idea of a schedule, I’m going to really try it. ❤
Yes, yes, and yes! Thanks Allison, and good luck 🙂