Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind

a person measuring the waist

Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind

I want to lose weight really, really bad. I’m willing to work hard to do it, but I’m having a great deal of trouble dealing with the process, both on a mental and emotional level.

I know that experts, including you, say that people trying to lose weight take a “lifestyle change” approach. However, I find it exhausting to deal with all the different parts of my life that I must change. I’m eating vegetables and stuff, but I feel so tired and sad sometimes. I stopped using fad diets and diet pills and other stuff on which I used to rely, but this new kind of dieting feels so much more difficult. What can I do? I don’t want to go nuts here or end up depressed, but I really do want to lose weight. I’m so frustrated! Please help me.

We’re sorry to hear that you’re having such a hard time with your diet plan. There could be a number of reasons why this is happening. There are also a number of things you can do about it. We’ll cover some important ground below. However, before we do that, we want to say this: while your physical health is important, your mental health is, too. If you feel that your current diet plan harms your mental health, you need to re-evaluate it. You should also consider the possibility that you have mental health issues separate from your dieting strategy. It’s never a bad idea to reach out to a therapist or psychologist. Your school may have resources on campus you can use to share your thoughts and feelings, and get helpful feedback and care.

If you decide that your mental and emotional exhaustion link to your health plan, it’s time to take a closer look at it. Let’s examine the makings of a healthy diet, and explore some of the ways in which yours might be contributing to your problems.

As you mentioned, the best way to lose weight is with a lifestyle change. Fad diets and other short-term solutions don’t work in the long run, because they do not create a permanent change in our habits. Even if you lose weight with a calorie deprivation diet, you will never keep off that weight. Once the diet ends, you’ll go back to your old eating and exercise habits, and gain back the weight! That’s why you must make changes that remain in place for good, not just for the set term of a short diet.

Those changes can be simple. You should pick an exercise plan to which you can stick, and you should eat more whole foods, especially vegetables. Steer clear of processed foods and the empty calories they provide. If you do all of this, you’ll often lose weight, without ever having to count calories. That’s because the foods you eat will be less calorie-dense, not to mention healthier.

Your body should not feel terrible if you’re eating in this way. That suggests that perhaps your diet is depriving you of too many calories. Are you sure you’re eating enough of the good foods that your body needs? Or, are you just eliminating bad foods, and restricting the amount that you eat overall? Sustainable eating is not about being hungry all the time. While a little willpower helps you eat healthier portions, part of the joy of eating right is that you can eat large amounts of things like vegetables without gaining weight, which is something that can’t be said of Doritos or Tostitos!

Perhaps you added elements of unhealthy dieting into your lifestyle changes. Does your “sustainable diet” look rather meager? Does your “sustainable exercise plan” look too much like binge exercising? Remember, the whole point of “lifestyle change” is to choose a new “normal” for your everyday life. The fact that you find your new routine exhausting suggests that you may have set goals that are too ambitious. Such goals would not be sustainable, which means you’re on a traditional “diet” in disguise.

That’s one possibility. The other possibility is that your new lifestyle is healthy, but it’s just not a good fit for you.

What do we mean by that? We just mean that not every super-healthy lifestyle is a good fit for every person. Let’s put it this way: you won’t catch any experts recommending that you avoid running or broccoli. However, if you hate running and broccoli, a “lifestyle change” built around eating large amounts of broccoli and running every day is doomed to fail.

So, while we would love to tell you that it’s easy for you to pick any form of a healthy lifestyle, the reality is that you should tailor your choice of healthy changes to your own tastes. This is not an excuse to make exceptions to every rule of healthy living. It is an invitation to give yourself a sensible amount of breathing room. For instance, we know that it’s healthiest to eat vegetables in a variety of forms: raw, boiled, roasted, and so on. However, if you like roasted vegetables the best, just eat more of those! It is far better for you to eat most of your veggies roasted than it is for you to try to get the perfect balance for a month or two, get frustrated, and head back to that bag of Doritos. Or, as the experts like to put it: the best vegetable is the one you eat!

Perhaps you should reconsider what a holistic approach to your health means for you. If the types of dieting to which you are accustomed bring you comfort, you can incorporate elements of those diets into your life. You can count carbs in moderation, as long as you recognize that you need some. They’re one of the macronutrients! You can also take diet pills, like synadrene, as long as you do your research and make them part of a larger, sustainable health plan. You can do a couch-to-5K program if you want, as long as you recognize that you need some form of exercise to which you’ll stick after you cross the 5K finish. You can care for your mental and physical health at spas, mixing in time in relaxation lounges and on meditation pillows with your jogging and swimming. In short, care for your body in a way that is compatible with the “lifestyle change” method, but also in the ways that you want. In fact, that’s the whole point: lifestyle change is about mixing what you should do with what you want, and are willing, to do. You have a whip-up a mixture that should work for you for the rest of your life, so it must be healthy, suit your tastes, and bring you some joy, as well.

You should take a moment to consider your diet plan. It’s likely that you’re doing too much. Maybe that means you are sneaking bad diet habits in with your good ones or depriving yourself of the things that make a lifestyle change weight-loss plan work. Or, maybe it means the lifestyle changes you’re making are too ambitious, or not well-suited to your personality and tastes. Whatever the case, it’s time to re-evaluate, and develop a more attainable, enjoyable plan. It’s up to you to find the balance that will give you a healthy body and a healthy mind. Good luck!

“I’m not losing weight. I’m getting rid of it. I have no intention of finding it again.” – Unknown

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