Staying calm and optimistic may be one of the most important mental habits you can form in order to be successful on your weight-loss journey—but anyone that’s ever embarked on a path to reducing body fat knows just how easy it is to become overwhelmed from time to time—and accept defeat.
With these four proven strategies for overcoming overwhelm while losing weight, you‘ll be more equipped to stay calm and weight loss on.
1. Ditch All-or-Nothing Thinking
All or nothing thinking is a negative thinking pattern that causes you to think in extremes. In other words, if everything isn’t perfect then it’s a total failure. This type of extreme thinking is unrealistic, leads to overwhelm and may lead you to giving up because, let’s face it, perfectionism doesn’t exist.
This type of thinking is common in people trying to lose weight but doesn’t usually end well because once a misstep occurs with diet, exercise or there’s a regression in weight loss, the all-or-nothing reaction is to throw in the towel.
To overcome all-or-nothing thinking, it’s important to stop thinking in absolutes. If a setback occurs, instead of deeming your efforts failed, pause, reframe, consider other reasons why the setback occurred—and be compassionate with yourself. Remind yourself that setbacks happen—and will continue to happen—but you can get back on track despite them. Remind yourself of your strengths, what did go right and try to find a positive in the situation.
2. Take a Digital Detox
If you’re feeling overwhelmed on your weight-loss journey, then chances are you are also suffering from low self-esteem—and one of the least helpful things to do in this state is to scrolling social media.
Doomscrolling, a term that means endless scrolling of news or social media feeds is a habit many of us are guilty of doing on occasion and can exacerbate feelings of depression, anxiety and may even be a function of obsessive compulsive behavior. Couple that with the negative effects that social comparison can have on your psyche—especially when trying to lose weight—and you’ve got a recipe for overwhelm.
Limit the amount of time you spend scrolling social media feeds each day and do your best to stop when you find yourself doomscrolling mindlessly. If you struggle to limit screen time, consider a digital detox one day a week or for the weekend—or better yet—temporarily delete your social media apps for a digital detox while you work through a sticking point in your weight-loss journey.
3. Don’t Rush the Process
Changing your mindset from, “Lose 10 pounds by the wedding” to “Lose 10 pounds for life” is one of the most profound mental shifts you can make to reduce feelings of overwhelm, succeed with weight loss and keep it off.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, 80 to 95% of dieters regain weight and experts believe that that’s because they treat weight loss like a sprint and not a marathon. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, pace yourself with the recommended one- to two-pounds weight-loss a week.
In addition to that, you want to ensure you’re losing the right kind of weight and fast-tracking weight loss has been shown to reduce the wrong kind. A meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition compared two weight-loss groups—a rapid group and a gradual group. Both groups lost the exact same amount of weight. Fascinatingly, the gradual group lost body fat percentage and fat mass, while the rapid group lost water weight and muscle mass—which is not the mass you want to lose in order to maintain weight loss long term.
4. Don’t Overschedule Yourself
An overpacked schedule where you’re rushing from one place to the next and you’re chronically 10 minutes behind schedule will not only raise your stress hormone cortisol, which is known to make weight loss harder—especially around your midsection—but it is also one the fastest ways to feel completely overwhelmed by life in general and can lead to falling off the wagon. In that frenzied state, you’re much more likely to miss nutritious meals, cave in to comfort foods, skip workouts and sleep less, all bad news for weight-loss.
Once a week, take some time to plan the coming week out carefully. Schedule in time to shop, meal prep, pre-book your workouts, set a sleep-wake schedule, reserve time for self-care (think meditation, reading, journaling and breathwork) and once you have your health, work and family priorities set, only then start to layer on any extracurricular social activities. In order to lose weight successfully and calmly, you must put yourself first on the list and make it a non-negotiable.
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