Is Your Weight Loss Puzzle Missing a Crucial Piece?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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 can be thought of as the three Os: overwhelm, overload and overeating. The first two Os—overwhelm and overload—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 as 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 will go away. Instead, it means 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 Jumpstart 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 isn’t your thing, schedule 10 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.