Updated: May 15
One of the most common goals for any client entering personal training is weight loss. Almost everyone wants to lose fat around the midsection, get rid of the dreaded and oddly named “batwings,” or see less dimples in the thighs. For most of the population, adding weight is easy. Fast food, high calorie snacks foods, and social eating all contribute to this, making eating a common past time during which high amounts of calories are easy to consume. Losing weight is difficult for those same people. Most people view the difficulty as something physical, which has some merit, but the most difficult underlying issues is the mental part of losing weight. If you want understand more about the mental and how to lose weight, read on. Understand mind state is the biggest barrier to weight loss If you cannot get past the mental hurdles in the way of losing weight, you will never lose weight. These mental hurdles come in many forms and are commonly forms of self-sabotage. For example, we hear statements such as these:
It is easier for men to lose weight
If I was a young guy, it would be easier to lose weight
I do not have the time to eat right
I cannot exercise that much so I cannot lose weight
My hormones keep me from losing weight
I do not know what I am doing
These are just examples and the list could go on. Of the six statements above, only number six is a legitimate statement, but it can be addressed. We will circle back around to it in minute. The first five statements are falsehoods. Here is why. It is easier for men to lose weight Research suggests that men may lose weight faster than women, all other things being equal. This is due to testosterone and muscle mass. Due to the hormone, men carry more mass and require more energy from food. If a male and a female begin an exercise program, the male will need more energy to fuel activity, and assuming body parties dropped the same amount of calories, the man will lose more. All this means is the woman may need to drop more calories than the male. Does this make the process easier, since men can reduce calories less than women? It depends on your mind set. If a woman looks at it as unfair and allow this to reduce your motivation, then yes the process will be easier for the male. If that same woman focus that mental energy on the weight loss instead of stressing over something she cannot change, then the process will be just as difficult for both of them. The same research that suggests men lose weight faster than women due to testosterone and muscle also suggest that a big part of the process is how men and women view food. The studies suggest women think about food more often and use food as an emotional escape from stress than men. Again, it comes to frame of mind. Whether or not men lose weight easier than women, women can still lose weight if they have the right state of mind. If I was a young guy, it would be easier to lose weight There is some truth to this statement, but not why you think. While hormone do change with age—specifically testosterone reduces—the higher difficulty with age lies mostly in years of bad habits. Most people looking to lose weight at an older age have packed on more weight than their younger counterparts. This same people have also engrained bad habits for longer. The longer a habit is performed, the harder it is to break. At the same time, older mean (and women) generally have more aches and pains, making exercise harder in some instance. Finally, due to a lack of exercise and activity over the years, most older people have lower fitness levels than younger counterparts. The solution to this problem is to focus on a healthy lifestyle at all ages, not just when you need to lose a few pounds. Being at your happy weight and fitness level requires ongoing commitment. The longer you delve in good habits, the easier maintaining those habits will be and the likelihood of you being fit and lean at an older age increase. I do not have the time to eat right Eating right does not have to take much time. Most times this reason for not losing weight comes back to a lack of motivation or to not knowing what to (which we will cover more further down). For those people stating they cannot lose weight due to not having time to cook healthy meals or the money to buy healthy food—keep eating what you have been. Yes, if you keep eating what you have been, you can lose weight—as long as you reduce calories. For an example, you can read this article about a professor who lost weight eating junk food. How did he do it? Calorie reduction. His is not the only example. Here is an article from a journalist who lost weight eating fast food. The caveat here is such an approach may not be ideal for health markers and performance. That said, these examples and other like them show a person can still eat some junk and lose weight. If you make healthier food choices for some meals, eat “junk” for others, but control calories, you can lose weight. I cannot exercise that much so I cannot lose weight You do not need to exercise to lose weight. Activity does not equal weight loss, though ti does create higher calorie expenditure. That said, if you calorie intake is still above the amount burned with the added activity, you will not lose weight. Activity or exercise can be a part of losing weight (and has other benefits) but nutrition control is more important than activity for persons solely pursuing general weight loss. My hormones keep me from losing weight Hormone problems are a legitimate concern. We touched on the effects of testosterone in men versus women and how it affects weight loss. Person’s who have PCOS, diabetes, Hashimoto’s, etc. need modification to their diet. However, the condition do not prevent weight loss. The same logic that applies to any other person—reduce daily calorie intake below daily calorie burn to lose weight. I do not know what I am doing This is a legitimate issue. It has an easy solution Educate yourself or hire help. The internet is full of information and is how you found this writing. Diet plans, nutrition education, and more can be found online. You can also hire a professional, such as us. Our Women’s Weight Loss Plan or Online Nutrition Coaching may be good options for you. Mind state is the biggest barrier to weight loss. To achieve weight loss, get your mind right. For every reason, for every excuse, there is a solution. A few other areas to consider In your weight loss journey consider the following
Nutrition is more important than activity—through food control alone you can reduce your calorie intake to below what you burn. This reduction will help you lose weight. The process will take time, but if you stick with it and adjust as needed, you will see progress
Activity has multiple benefits for weight loss—if you do choose to exercise, the activity will increase daily calorie expenditure, making lowering caloric intake below caloric burn easier. That said, engaging in resistance training will also help you maintaining muscle, which has the benefits we mentioned earlier, but will also help you maintain strength and performance, while encouraging the body to lose fat mass instead of muscle mass.
You must have a plan to be successful—you might be able to wing it for a while and be successful, but eventually life will get in the way. Having a plan for how to deal with the obstacles will help. This plan should include an approach to nutrition and exercise, but also to stress management and time management. Life gets in the way and an exercise and nutrition plan is no help if you do not prioritize it.
Consistency equals long term change—the old adage is “change does not happen overnight” and this applies to weight loss. You must be consistent of the day, weeks, months, and years to see and then maintain weight loss. Mental fortitude is what keeps you going. A plan will help.
You can do this. Everyday is a chance to see progress. Do something to see progress today.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, and the International Sports Sciences Association. Nathan has 17 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.