There is a very simple mathematical formula for weight loss: CI (calories in) – CL (calories lost) = WL (weight loss). That means that if you eat fewer calories than you are working off, you will lose weight. It sounds simple, and it is essentially true, that is how you lose weight, but there are also many other factors that affect how well this formula works in reality. There are two key areas that have an effect on your ability to lose weight; one is your physical health, and the other is psychology, so if you’re battling with trying to shed the pounds and feel like you’re not doing very well, it could help to have a look at the effects of these two areas.
Health problems you know about
There are very few people who don’t have some kind of health issue that they are living with. It could be chronic pain, a long-term condition like diabetes, a mental health problem, asthma, or an injury; these are just a few examples of the many health problems most people have to deal with at some point in their lives, and they will all affect your ability to exercise in varying ways. Mental health problems can make you feel fatigued; lacking energy, lacking motivation and struggling with negative feelings that make it very hard to look after yourself. They can also contribute to unhealthy eating, e.g. binging, favoring comfort food, or not eating at the best times. Pain, long-term conditions, and injuries will all make it harder to exercise, and the low mood that accompanies the pain and discomfort of health problems can again lead to unhealthy eating habits. If you are trying to lose weight when you have a health problem, first of all, take advice from your doctor about the best treatment to help you recover from or cope better with your condition. They will also be able to advise on the best forms of exercise for someone with your problem, and you might be surprised to find there are many options beyond the familiar ones for effective ways to exercise when you have a health issue.
Health problems you don’t know about
Quite often you feel low, anxious and fatigued for perfectly normal reasons, but if you find you are having trouble shaking these feelings off on a consistent basis, you need to get yourself checked out to make sure there isn’t an underlying cause. The reasons behind not feeling right are many and very hard to isolate yourself, but your doctor should be able to diagnose most causes from assessing your symptoms and performing some standard tests. You may, for example, have a hormone imbalance that is causing you to feel tired all the time, maybe have trouble sleeping and mood swings, and start to gain weight or find it harder to lose. This could be down to the onset of the menopause if you’re over forty, but there are other causes in younger people such as adrenal fatigue. If you are diagnosed with a hormone imbalance, there are specialist clinics like BodyLogicMD that can help with hormone replacement therapies to get your body back in balance.
The psychology behind over-eating, not being able to control cravings, and lacking the motivation to exercise is often complex. There are biological reasons why we crave high energy foods, going back to our early ancestors. At that time food was scarce and hard-won, so any source of calories became highly sought after, and this has left us with the imperative to eat while there is food available. Overcoming this imperative is possible. Otherwise we would all be of an unhealthy weight, but if you have issues such as low self-esteem, it can be much harder to dismiss the urge to feed yourself. Low self-esteem, whatever it has been caused by, is a key factor in your ability to look after yourself. If you don’t value yourself, feeling you are unworthy of being prioritized and cared for, you’ll find it much more difficult to make an effort to eat well and take exercise. If this is the case with you, then working on your self-esteem issues are going to be critical to achieving success with weight loss. Ironically, if you can motivate yourself to achieve your weight loss goals, you will feel much better about yourself and your self-esteem will improve. The physical benefits, feeling fitter and healthier, increased confidence and knowing you have succeeded with something that was difficult but very important to you, all give you a sense of pride and wellbeing. The problem is that finding the motivation can be problematic when you lack the self-esteem required to take care of yourself properly.
Having established that losing weight can be a complex issue, with many other factors influencing your success rates, you may be tempted to give a sigh of relief and start thinking you aren’t responsible for not being able to lose the pounds. You’ll often hear people say they eat minimally and still put on weight, or that they are big boned, or genetically prone to gaining weight. It becomes a justification for remaining overweight; you can’t help it because something beyond your control has decided your fate. Whilst there is a grain of truth in these claims, for example, some people’s bodies are better at burning calories than others, the belief that there is nothing you can do is misplaced. Whatever your situation, whether it’s a physical problem, a psychological one, or a combination of the two, you still have the choice to take action to resolve or relieve the underlying causes. You must also be honest with yourself. Counting calories inaccurately, say by including the bread and the filling but forgetting about the spread in a sandwich; or not including the peanut butter cups you treated yourself to after work, is just cheating yourself.
You can lose weight, and if you’re finding it hard, you need to help yourself by trying different approaches, getting your physical health checked out, and seeking help for psychological issues. Above all be honest with yourself, and take control of your situation so that you can achieve the weight loss you desire.