If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably eating more vegetables, cutting down sugar, and drinking more water. But at some point the weight comes back, it feels like you’ve hit a wall and you are wondering why you can’t seem to get it right.
The truth is that weight loss is a journey that looks a lot like a bumpy ride, and that every woman who successfully loses weight and keeps it off has to overcome challenges that are not often talked about. Let’s take a closer look at six of them.
1. The path to a slimmer you is not a straight line
Even if you do everything right and you stay on track, weight loss is not linear, which means you will lose weight, gain some weight back, and this may happen several times until you reach your goal, because of how physiology works.
Your weight will fluctuate within the same month because during their cycle, women retain water. Research has also shown that serotonin levels are lower before menstruation, which means women are more prone to overeating and food cravings.
Your weight will also fluctuate over time because via hormones and other mechanisms, our body protects us against weight loss a lot more than it protects us against weight gain. This is why you will usually hit weight loss plateaus and have the impression you are no longer making progress.
2. You may face several defeating setbacks
Weight loss is not as simple as eating less and exercising more. You will most probably face some crushing setbacks along the way, and you need to realize they are part of the journey. Life will happen and you will experience some emotionally and psychologically defeating blows.
Every time this happens, know that you are not broken and you don’t have to feel bad about yourself. You don’t have to feel guilty about gaining a few pounds back, or about reaching out to food when life gets rough.
Next time your inner critic shows up and you start thinking you can’t do it, remember all this is part of your weight loss journey.
3. You will need to have compassion for yourself, instead of criticism and guilt
Women who want to lose weight often put themselves through a lot of psychological abuse. They can be really hard on themselves, with a lot of criticism and negative self-talk. This behavior can lead to over-restrictive dieting, then self-punishment when they realize their unrealistic diet is not sustainable over the long term.
Many women on a weight loss journey also experience a lot of guilt: they feel guilty about almost everything they eat, about not having more willpower, about not making more progress, about reaching for sweet foods when life is hard, or about “being fat.”
What I always help my clients with is to have more compassion with themselves. They need to come from a place of self-love and self-acceptance if they really want to be successful. And research has also shown that self-compassion increases one’s motivation to improve and avoid repeating the same mistakes.