Is Your Weight Loss Puzzle Missing a Crucial Piece?

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By: , – Melissa McCreery, PhD, of toomuchonherplate.com
2/8/2012 2:00 PM   :  42 comments   :  46,805 Views

When it comes to succeeding at weight loss, knowing what to do is only half the battle. The real challenge is sticking with your healthy lifestyle in the midst of all the other responsibilities you have on your plate. Even with hard work and self-discipline, it's easy to get tripped up by pitfalls like emotional eating, waning motivation, and erratic weight fluctuations without a good game plan.

On your road to weight loss, you will encounter a few major triggers that I like to call the three Os—overwhelm, overload, and overeating. The first two Os-- overwhelm and overload-- both create incredible challenges for new habits and lifestyle changes by triggering the third O--overeating. When you are stressed, your biochemistry makes you hungry. When you don’t take the time to care for yourself in other ways, food can tempt you as an easy-to-reach stress relief, or a way to “energize” and keep going.

Here’s what you need to know.



Having a food or fitness plan is not enough. If you don’t address the three Os, you are setting yourself up to fail at weight loss—no matter what plan or approach you choose.

Regardless of how motivated they are, many people fumble a few weeks into their weight loss plans because they are missing one crucial component. There is a strategy that can help you get right to the source of your weight problems, and as an added bonus, it addresses those pesky three Os that can make everything else seem like too much work.

The ingredient that may be missing from your weight loss plan is called self-care.

Self-care is not a luxury: it is a crucial part of the weight loss equation. Self-care nourishes and soothes your soul and your spirit in a way that carbs never will. Your self-care goes far beyond good nutrition and includes adequate sleep, support, time for comfort and relaxation, physical activity, stress release, and maybe a shoulder to cry on after a tough day. Self-care is usually a work in progress, and for busy women who expect a lot of themselves, it often gets neglected.

Big mistake.

Self-care is essential. Like an athlete preparing for a major race, you need to be in prime form, especially when life demands a lot of you while you are taking on challenges like weight loss and lifestyle changes.

Ignoring self-care (or letting your needs fall to the bottom of your priority list), doesn’t mean your needs go away. Instead, it means that you are very likely to try to tend to them in ways that don’t really fix the problem and may sabotage your progress.

How often have you reached for food when what you really craved was some other nourishment for your spirit? Emotional eating includes eating due to stress, boredom, or as a reward for a job well done. Emotional eating (which can be a big cause of overeating, weight gain, and diet failure) is really an ineffective (but tempting) substitute for self-care. It can take over your life big time if you are overloaded and overwhelmed. If you are committed to creating peace with food and want to achieve lasting weight loss, make a commitment to self-care and start taking these doable steps to put yourself on your priority list.

Quick and Easy Ways to Jump-start Your Self Care

I know you are busy. Don’t worry. Self-care doesn’t need to take over the rest of your life. In fact, when you give yourself what you really need, you are likely to be more energized and productive.

    You can start spiffing up your self-care routine today with three simple acts.

  1. Create a habit of checking in with yourself. This is how you will stay connected with yourself and start identifying the care that you really need. Journaling is an excellent way to do this. If writing just isn’t your thing, schedule ten minutes at the start of your day to sit or walk quietly and reflect on your needs and priorities. This may not come easily at first, but gradually, you will become more aware of what you need and how you feel. Self-care means paying attention to your needs and addressing them directly, instead of avoiding them or resorting to habits like overeating or procrastination.
  2. Start putting you on your priority list. Don’t add more stress. Take small steps. Put yourself on your calendar--plan and commit to meeting your needs. Set a goal of doing one lovely thing for yourself daily. It doesn’t have to be major, just something that works that self-care muscle. Put flowers on your desk, take a short walk at lunch, or make time to call a friend and share a laugh.
  3. Give yourself time to get comfortable. Don’t feel silly if self-care doesn’t come naturally at first. Many busy people have more experience taking care of others than they do with taking care of themselves. Don’t let guilt stop you. Make a list of all the ways you function and serve the world better when you give yourself what you need. Learn and tweak as you try things out.


Self-care is an ongoing process, and as you get better at it and start really meeting your needs, some of those vices like overeating will have much less power. You'll find the three Os showing up less often, and when they do, you'll be better able to respond effectively. That's the real key to making changes that last.



Psychologist and Healthy Thinking Coach Dr. Melissa McCreery focuses on the three Os that ambush successful, high-achieving women—overeating, overwhelm, and overload. She is the founder of TooMuchOnHerPlate.com where her clients take control of overeating and stress and add more ease, success, and joy in their health, their businesses, and their lives.


What's your favorite way to add self-care into your busy life?



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Comments

  • LOLLCUR
    42
    Great article and a great reminder. Thanks for the reminder and I really needed to read this! - 2/20/2012   10:35:01 AM
  • IMPATIENS2
    41
    This piece speaks to me where I am! Very helpful reminder of a lesson I keep learning over and over. When I am at home and mindful enough to remember, sitting down for a few minutes at the piano takes me out of the three Os. I don't have as good an in-the-moment strategy at work. Sometimes I'll leave the building for a quick walk, but generally at the office, if I'm over-committed I find myself thinking "I'll start saying 'No' tomorrow." This is exactly as useless as the same thought on a diet. - 2/19/2012   4:59:09 PM
  • 40
    I've been eating too much lately. I'm allowing my emotions and cares to overwhelm me. I really needed to read this today. - 2/18/2012   3:04:57 PM
  • K_RENEE
    39
    Excellent blog! - 2/16/2012   9:03:55 PM
  • 38
    I know this. I just forget it a lot. I've been eating everything in sight lately. You have just reminded me that I have: 1. added 1 1/2 hours to several days a week in exercise time. 2. committed two evenings every week to my singing groups (I love doing it, but I do have to show up. Another 5 hours or so each week.) 3. committed to attending another hour long meeting twice a month. 4. committed to showing up every Sunday at church, or taking the time to find someone else to take over for my volunteer committment there. 5. committed to having my granddaughter visit almost every Friday night to well into Saturday.

    All of them are things I want to do and enjoy doing, but together--overwhelmed and overloaded.

    I guess what I really need are some suggestions for how to find this extra time. Retirement is not an option for at least another four years, and even then, my retired friends tell me they are even busier than when they were officially working.

    HELP!! This is the wrong kind of treadmill to be on!! - 2/15/2012   5:00:35 PM
  • 37
    My quiet time with The Lord is what I enjoy most. It is relaxing and quiet. - 2/15/2012   10:12:02 AM
  • 36
    Excellent article! Thank you! This wisdom can be applied to a lot more than just weight loss. The spiritual element is essential for human health in general. - 2/14/2012   5:49:50 PM
  • 35
    Excellent article. Most women and as it turns out most men make their priorities around other people and other people's concerns. It is just Easier to deal with someone else's stuff. This article pinpoints the three Os that get all of us into unhealthy positions whether physically or emotionally. Thank you.
    - 2/14/2012   5:25:24 PM
  • PARAGUAYLADY
    34
    Thank you for this article. It really hit home the 3 O's. I really didn't realize what emotional overeating is all about. I realize that when I overeat or eat and am not hungry or look for chocolate it's because of these three O's. Thank you so much!
    - 2/14/2012   3:58:03 PM
  • WIZZARDX2
    33
    I take care of myself by indulging in my hobbies. - 2/14/2012   2:08:27 PM
  • 32
    Being bored gets me to start eating but I'm getting better and mostly keep healthy snacks around me. I'm getting there. - 2/14/2012   1:55:21 PM
  • 31
    Have printed and posted this article next to my computer so I will see it every day - I need the reminder daily that self care needs to be a part of my life in order to succeed in all the other parts! Thanks for a great article! - 2/14/2012   11:36:17 AM
  • 30
    Good points to ponder. I know I need to remember that I can't take care of others (at least not for very long) if I neglect to take care of myself. Must keep working at finding balance. - 2/14/2012   11:35:53 AM
  • 29
    This article was a great one and an eye opener for me! You are just SO busy sometimes that even though you try to eat healthier, exercise, etc... it truly isn't enough if you aren't taking care of yourself. Not only does this affect your mood, but it affects your focus of what you set out to do from the beginning, which is to love yourself! My therapist asked me at the beginning of the year what my 'New Years resolution' was... and I simply said, "I don't have a resolution...I have a theme for the year... to 'love myself'!" I told her it involves many things to keep this theme going...number one: quit smoking (been smoke-free after 15yrs for 7 weeks now!), number two: going to gym more often (went from maybe 2-3 days per week max to now going 5 days minimum and sometimes twice a day...and started incorporating weight/strength training and yoga also instead of just cardio, as I had done in the past) and number three: to eat healthier (to actually follow a plan to count calories instead of guessing and to incorporate more fruits, whole grains and veggies into my diet). I have suceeded in all three of these things since the year began...however, I recently found myself in the past few weeks reaching for those pints of ice cream after dinner. This is becoming an almost every night occurance for me to grab something bad and, essentially feel like I've 'screwed' up my whole day, but for some reason I cannot control it... Not having these horrible foods in the house is way easier said than done. After reading this article, it made me realize that I really did lose sight of what is also important, a 'missing piece' to this puzzle of my self love... to take time out for myself and really think about why I am eating like this at night. I feel that this article can really get me back on track again!! : ) - 2/14/2012   10:54:05 AM
  • JH29011
    28
    I need to work on tracking my food. I haven't gotten the hang of it yet. When I don't track it, I tend to eat things I shouldn't. I really need to get this diet started in the right way. I should take better care of myself. - 2/14/2012   10:25:39 AM
  • 27
    Wow - great article. Really shows me where I need to focus. Self care is definitely missing in my life right now. Thank you for the reminder - 2/14/2012   10:02:31 AM
  • TOAD1976
    26
    I need to work on this as well. I have to get past the guilt that comes with self-care and the feeling that I am being selfish when I take time for myself. - 2/14/2012   9:56:59 AM
  • CIRANDELLA
    25
    Happy Valentine's Day! Self-care is the best V-Day gift goin'...get some today! - 2/14/2012   9:44:01 AM
  • 24
    Why do we always put ourselves last. Thanks for the reminder. - 2/14/2012   9:43:12 AM
  • 23
    Great article. We tend to put ourselves last and take care of others first. This is a good reminder. - 2/14/2012   8:54:40 AM
  • 22
    Exercising is my daily way of taking care of myself. But my favorite is getting a massage. - 2/14/2012   7:57:17 AM
  • 21
    I'm hearing this often - but fail miserably at it - I don't even know how to be nice to me or what to do to do so. - 2/9/2012   10:38:50 PM
  • 20
    Thanks for the reminders! - 2/9/2012   8:29:28 PM
  • GMAGEE
    19
    Thanks for this reminder. Always seem to put caring for myself last on every list. - 2/9/2012   1:53:07 PM
  • 18
    Great article. I am somebody who loves to help other people and it can be hard to turn that around and help myself.
    I had a hard time picking my way of self-care as I need and love quiet time and I love being with those I love too. - 2/9/2012   11:12:33 AM
  • 17
    Great article! When I come home I feel like there is so much to do and as if everyone immediately needs something as soon as I walk in the door. Self-care is definitely an elimant lacking in my program and I am working on correcting this. - 2/9/2012   10:31:30 AM
  • 16
    I always have a hard time relaxing....I am gonna get that bubble bath tonight!!! - 2/9/2012   9:27:12 AM
  • BAMBI31311
    15
    What a well written article, and touches to the heart of emotional eating. Thank you. - 2/9/2012   6:03:23 AM
  • BABS4625
    14
    I know that I have to work at this! I am a nurse and find I play caregiver to everyone and never take time for me or I feel guilty when I do. I find comfort from the stress and craziness by eating, and that starts the whole cycle of feeling guilty all over again. This was a great blog! - 2/9/2012   5:36:55 AM
  • 123ELAINE456
    13
    Self Care is something Im going to have start working on. I have put everything and everyone ahead of me. Need help with this one I think. It was a very good article. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. - 2/9/2012   5:16:33 AM
  • 12
    I'm reading "The Deerslayer" by James Fenimore Cooper. Just finished reading "Look Homeward, Angel" by Thomas Wolfe. Love my quiet time. - 2/9/2012   12:12:59 AM
  • 11
    I usually read in a bubble bath. - 2/8/2012   11:28:37 PM
  • 10
    This blog is just what I needed. I have been taking care of everyone else but myself. Using money as an excuse (lack of) for not getting haircuts or wearing nice clothes when I go out. I had just been dressing like a slob because who cares. I see now that the only one that really needs to care is ME! - 2/8/2012   9:24:36 PM
  • POOHBEARY84
    9
    I had lost up to 20pounds and my famliy problems begain and I have gain 14pounds back an I feel terrible. So now I take time for me I go and get a peducure at least every two weeks with a foot and leg massage. I have begun to go get me hair done and wear just a little makeup and getting more time to sleep no matter who needs what to be done or whom problems I need to solve. I put it on the back burner and put me first. - 2/8/2012   9:00:28 PM
  • RELOTZ
    8
    With RA &FMS every day can be a stuggle. My present job also has me in front of a computer all day lomg. I am finally at the point that I am taking time each day for me! gentle yoga, tai chi &meditation along with daily devotions have at least improved my attitude positively. Now I can focus more on the diet! Thanks Sparkpeople! - 2/8/2012   8:21:07 PM
  • 7
    If I don't care for myself, there won't be enough of a healthy strong me to care for others. It only becomes selfish when caring for myself is ALL I do. I'm learning this lesson. - 2/8/2012   5:58:18 PM
  • 6
    Great article. Hit the nail on the head, I often will get a few weeks into a program and give up when stress gets to much. - 2/8/2012   5:29:09 PM
  • 5
    This is so true. My weight loss went pretty smooth and steady until my mother's illness and subsequent death. Counting calories and exercise were not on my priority list for several months and my weight loss stalled. But that was ok. I gave myself permission to take care of my life responsibilities and got back on track later. It is important to realize that sometimes life gets in the way. When it does, don't let it cause you more stress. This too shall pass (though sometimes it seems like it will not) and when it does you can get back to your weight loss strategies. - 2/8/2012   4:45:35 PM
  • 4
    Great article...joining SP & blogging has been my way of keeping a journal & tracking my food has made it simple to keep a food diary. I have been a caregiver on & off for the last ten years & I have to remember that I have to be healthy FIRST & then I can be of more help to others. Thanks for the reminder...Janey - 2/8/2012   4:41:21 PM
  • 3
    Great article and my spark page supports its content. My weight problem is a products of putting everyone else first. Me last! I also am a stress eater. Having had 4 children and a husband that has had multiple surgeries over the years contributed to my stress level. Self care without guilt is what I am working on in this stage of my journey. - 2/8/2012   3:07:25 PM
  • JJACKS77
    2
    I really have to work at this. I spend a lot of time taking care of others ... - 2/8/2012   2:34:45 PM
  • TMUNSON38
    1
    Self care is something that I do need to work on. I am going print out this article and put it somewhere so I can see it each day! Thank you for reminding me that it is all about the three O's and I have been missing one! - 2/8/2012   2:30:00 PM

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