It seems to always come down to diet and exercise in some capacity. Eat less, move more. Eat the right foods. Stay away from, or cut back on, the wrong foods. Eat at the right time. Do the right kind of exercise. Have you ever read an article about how to lose weight that espoused anything else? We could probably add sleep more and curb mindless eating habits to that list, but otherwise, I think that covers it.
For many people, the answer is in there, and the challenge becomes figuring out which of the many variants of food and exercise is right for them. Well, that’s part of the challenge. The other part is finding the desire and motivation to stick with that approach. Ideally you find an approach that you feel allows you to live a good life as opposed to one that is so restrictive that you feel deprived. The latter will probably lead to falling off the wagon eventually.
But what about those people who have been there, done that? The people who don’t seem to be able to stick with their plan? Are they just weak? Is the person who sets their goals, makes a plan, and then follows that plan to fat loss success just a better person than the person who tries and fails? Think about your friends and family who struggle with their weight. Are they lesser persons?
Maybe there is actually more to it than food and exercise.
For many people there is a strong emotional element to weight and to food. Feelings of self-worth, loneliness, depression, fear. For many people, these emotions have a strong influence on their capacity to succeed on a weight loss program. Notice I chose the word capacity instead of ability. If you find yourself nodding in agreement to this paragraph, then maybe it’s time you brought a mental health practitioner into your weight loss team. I am not going to try to pretend to understand what anyone is facing when it comes to negative emotions, but left unchecked, success with fat loss will be at best much harder than it needs to be, and at worst impossible.
Food and exercise are still important factors for everyone when it comes to fat loss, but for some people, it is a distant second to emotional and psychological guidance.
Elsbeth Vaino is a personal trainer in Ottawa who gets that helping clients with exercise and nutrition isn’t always enough.