The Five Emotions Sabotaging Your Weight Loss

Turns out your mind has a whole lot of control over your matter.

I’m always trying to find the best ways to achieve my fitness goals. I pay close attention to what works and have spent a lot of time reasoning out why I’ve failed at different aspects of my program. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more than just self-sabotage—it’s making the same mistakes over and over again, mistakes that are triggered by one of five powerful emotions.

It occurred to me that these emotions may be tripping up almost everyone trying to lose weight. Sure, the specifics of how they manifest themselves may vary from person to person, but the sentiment is the same and the end result is usually chocolate, pizza, or staying in bed instead of getting up to exercise.

Okay, maybe those end results are just me.

But still, I would wager that your outcomes are a variation of mine. So how do we stop these emotions from tripping us up? The answer, as with most things weight-loss related, lies in preparation. That’s where I’m here to help.

Understanding that these emotions are unavoidable is one thing, knowing how to head them off is another. But you can (we can!) manage every single one of these…I promise.

No Fear

I bet you could sit down and make a list of twenty things you’re afraid of. But how long would it take you to come up with a list of things that bring you joy, fulfillment, and excitement? To succeed at weight loss, try to switch those numbers.

Think of it this way: living with fear can have immediate results like fatigue, loss of appetite, and digestive complications. You can’t create a sustainable fitness routine with a sluggish body that doesn’t feel well. Instead, you have to lift yourself out of that fearful way of thinking and drop your mind right into the happy place. Don’t let your body drown in its own worry.

In The Red

For some people, anger is a motivator. For the rest of us, it’s an excuse to say “Screw it! I’m done!” Don’t bury your feelings of anger, but deal with them in a constructive way. Maybe you need to pull yourself from a situation and allow the frustration to dissipate before you search for solutions. Of course, you won’t find one every time—life doesn’t work that way—but mentally working through a problem can ensure frustration doesn’t build and in turn hinder other aspects of your life.

Hungry As A Bear

Hunger can be emotional and physical, but the two are so closely related it’s often difficult to tell the difference. Either way, it’s about self-denial. When you begin to reduce your caloric intake to lose weight, you may initially feel temporary hunger, but being constantly hungry might mean you need to reevaluate your processes. Does your diet deny you too much? The occasional indulgence often helps to keep you balanced, so long as it’s used in moderation. Complete denial always has me concerned I might wake up in the shop window of the candy store like the mayor in the movie Chocolat, guilt-ridden and dribbling sweets from the corner of my mouth.

When dealing with hunger, make sure you understand why your belly is growling. Does your body physically need more food, or are you simply craving a particular taste you’ve denied yourself? Being able to separate the two and heading off those hunger pains can mean the difference between success and failure.

Going It Alone

Studies have shown that periods of extended loneliness can have a negative impact on your body. Many people experience solitude after tragic events or the loss of someone close to them. While building or rebuilding a social network can be difficult, having your own community of companions will work wonders for your mental and physical health.

Being with others is uplifting. It gets your mind off of the events that led you to this state, gives you a support network to turn to when things get challenging, and encourages healthy social interactions and activities that don’t involve food. Beef up your social calendar to combat the negativity of isolation.

The Sleeping Giant

Feeling tired, emotionally or physically? Both types play a leading role in your physical wellbeing and fitness. To lose weight, get enough rest, period. Eight hours a night is preferred, but few of us can achieve such heights, so try to stick to the idea that you should get as much sleep as possible. Then try to get some more. Seriously.

If mental exhaustion is your downfall, maybe an assessment is in order. Can you lighten your current stress load? Your immediate answer will likely be NO (“I’m doing this because no one else can/would/should.”), but seriously, think about it. Is someone else capable of sharing the responsibility? Should someone else be playing an active role in this process? Now ask yourself this: is the world going to end if you don’t do this thing? Be honest and willing to let go of your own expectations in order to achieve a happier you in a healthier place.

Our emotions are an indicator of where our body is heading. We may get away with loneliness or anger now and then, but not forever. We can’t keep our emotions in check all the time, just like we can’t expect physical and dietary perfection, but the goal is to find a happy middle ground where you can manage your emotions in such a way that your physical needs don’t suffer.

Next time you get angry, you’ll have a plan. When you’re lonely, it will be a cue to create a wider circle of people to call on, and when you’re emotionally worn out, you’ll understand that asking someone for help may be the best way to keep your fitness in check.

Make it WayBetter

One of the best ways to deal with emotions is one of the simplest: journaling! When you feel yourself veering off track, try to sit down and sort through your feelings and motivations on paper.