Why is it so hard to motivate yourself to lose weight? I’ve been thinking about the reasons why this can be so hard after going through my own times of strong motivation where nothing could veer me from my path (even during those times of slow weight loss after you’ve been at it for a few months), as well as times of low motivation.
So why is it so darned hard to get yourself motivated to lose weight? It’s not like we’re talking about doing a short-term diet to lose weight but instead want to take action to make some healthy lifestyle changes. This simply means that you live daily life in a healthy manner, which is likely different from how you live now if you are overweight.
Since we aren’t dieting, we’re in it for the long haul. You don’t have to make a lot of changes up front if you don’t want to, but could instead make gradual lifestyle changes, incorporating a new change each week or each month. If you don’t exercise currently, you could start out by walking every day for 15 minutes. Or if you drink soda all day, a lifestyle change would be to cut back to one a day replacing the rest with water until you have replaced all sodas with water every day.
Therefore, if we aren’t making huge lifestyle changes up front (unless that’s what you want to do and you can stick with it), why is it so hard to find that motivation to get moving and change?
I think the main reason is fear. Fear, fear, fear. Fear of what you ask? How can you be afraid of losing weight when that’s all you ever think about and say that you want? Well, I think that there are many fears that can get in the way of your motivation to lose weight, fears that you might not even realize are there.
Here’s a list of 10 fears that could be holding you back from losing weight:
- Fear of Change: Right now if you are overweight you are living an unhealthy lifestyle. If you are going to lose weight and keep it off, this will take changing how you currently live. Many people are afraid of change, afraid of the unknown. The thing is though that change is always happening, we can’t stop it, it’s all around us. Change is a part of life. Also, if you don’t change your lifestyle to a healthy one, your body will change anyway; unfortunately, these changes will most likely be negative and could limit your life greatly.
- Fear of Not Being Able to Follow Through: If you don’t have experience in what you’re about to undertake you might fear if you’re going to be able to handle it. If you’ve never had a regular exercise schedule you might fear how that is going to fit into your busy, daily schedule. If you’ve never eaten a diet consisting of healthy, whole foods you might fear how you’re going to manage that. How will you shop for these foods? How will you cook them? Where will you find the time?
- Fear of The Good Life, a.k.a. Fear of Success: Yes, there is such a thing as fear of having a better life. If you’ve been living a particularly unhealthy lifestyle for years and years, you at least know what to expect. You know how people react to you, and even if you aren’t happy with that or how you feel, you know (or think you know) what each day will bring. What if you lost weight, had a lot of energy, and began to feel better about yourself? How would you act, how would other people act towards you? Will you get a lot of attention? Even if it’s positive attention, what will you say? If you’re not use to compliments, what if someone compliments you?
- Fear of Failure: Whenever you undertake something new it’s common to be afraid that you might fail. Maybe you’ve tried to lose weight before but never learned how to eat healthy and exercise productively, but instead were trying crash diets that never lasted, and therefore failed. Maybe you’re afraid that you won’t be able to keep it up, that you’ll change for a while but end up going back to how you used to be. You could be afraid to try for the first time, or afraid to try again.
- Fear of Giving Up your Best Friend: If using food is your lifestyle and you’ve made it your best friend, lover, and your confidant, then you’re very likely afraid to give that up. The fear could be intensified if you are also addicted to sugar, salt, fat, fried foods, certain textures of foods, or even dairy. You eat these foods because they make your feel better, so the thought of giving up your best friend can be scary. How will you feel? Won’t you feel just awful if you can’t get your high, if you can’t turn to food for comfort? You might even fear that your life will be boring if food is where you’ve been getting your excitement, love, happiness, or joy.
- Fear of Being Different: Part of your unhealthy lifestyle might involve regular social activities that are focused around eating. Maybe you have a group of friends who meet every Friday at Chili’s, or maybe you get together every Sunday for a family barbecue or a down-home cooked meal. If your lifestyle includes many other people who are also living unhealthy lifestyles, you might fear being singled out for the changes that you’re making. How will you fit in if the social focus has always been on food? How will you be able to resist those fried creations offered at each gathering and be different, resisting those sugary sweet desserts, all of that food that saps your energy and has helped you become overweight?
- Fear of Losing Friends: This fear ties into the previous fear of being different. What if your current friends don’t want to get together to go for a walk instead of eat? What if they put you down for the positive changes you are making because they are afraid to make their own changes? Will they drop you because you’re not like them anymore? If you change your lifestyle and get healthy and fit, does it mean that you will have to find some new friends? That could be scary. So many fears can come up around this area, it’s worth taking a look at.
- Fear of Eating Food you Don’t Like: If you have a diet mentality you just might think that you have to struggle to lose weight, which includes eating strange foods that you don’t like. There are many crash diets out there that promise that, “if you only eat x and y, you will lose weight”. Maybe you’ve done this before, even though you couldn’t stand x and y. Now you’re trying to motivate yourself to change but you’re afraid that your life will be horrible because the only way to lose weight is to eat foods that taste bad. If this were true, it would be a scary proposition for anyone!
- Fear of Always Being Hungry: Even with the wealth of information available that tells you that you must eat to lose weight (not eating slows your metabolism and causes your body to store the little you do eat), many people have been misinformed and think that to lose weight you must stop eating. That’s a scary prospect, thinking that you’ll be uncomfortable and suffer hunger pangs all day. Anyone who has this fear wouldn’t have much motivation to change.
- Fear of Cost: It’s an unfortunate fact that the non-nutritious, fat and sugar-filled, fried, tasty convenience foods often cost less than nutritious, healthy, whole foods. Not always (I find that I spend more on food when I’m eating unhealthy), but this could be a fear of yours. It’s a subject that I’ve come across more than once, but it does need some detailed study and comparison of facts (i.e.: Little Debbie’s are cheap, but Stouffer’s, Lean Cuisine, and other pre-packaged unhealthy fare is not). Either way, money is a touchy subject with many people, and quite often is a subject filled to the gills with fear. Add your money fears to the thought that you’ll spend more on healthy fare, and you’ve got another fear that can squash your motivation to lose weight.
There are really a myriad of fears that could be running around in your head, holding you back from losing weight and getting healthy and fit. Your job is to identify them and learn whether or not they are rational or irrational fears. Just like with any process of self-improvement, you are the one who has the answers to this since no one knows what you think and feel better than you do. 😉
This post is meant to be an exploration of the fears that could be tamping down your motivation to move forward, change your lifestyle, and lose weight. It’s meant to get you thinking about where you’re at if you’re struggling with your weight loss motivation today. Tomorrow we’ll look at how you can turn these fears around and use them as motivation to lose weight.
If you would like to share any fears that you feel are holding you back from losing weight, please feel free to leave a comment. If you’ve already overcome your fears about weight loss and are motivated and on track, please feel free to share how you did that!