Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fear Factor

While most people are eager—even desperate—to lose weight, some overweight dieters are actually uncomfortable with morphing into a thinner version of themselves, either because they fear the process of losing weight or the result itself. "There are a number of conscious and subconscious reasons why a person who is overweight finds security in extra pounds or unhealthy lifestyle habits," says Lisa Sasson, M.S., an associate professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University in New York, New York. If you think you might be a little too comfortable at an unhealthy weight, or are actually fearful of succeeding on a diet, read through these common reasons that can keep you from beginning the journey. Figuring out what could be holding you back will benefit not only your physical health, but your emotional life as well.

You don't want to change your lifestyle

It's true: Losing weight and keeping it off involves permanent change, and you may not want to change a thing about your eating and lifestyle habits right now, thank you very much. Maybe you'd rather watch The Office than be at the gym. Perhaps you're bored of bland-tasting veggies. In fact, the unfamiliar makes you anxious, and losing weight is all about the unknown, right? Wrong. You don't have to make drastic changes in order to succeed at losing weight. In fact, extreme diets that have you eating only seaweed, exotic tree nuts, and unpronounceable fruits aren't sustainable. Taking your existing diet and lifestyle habits and tweaking them is a much friendlier—and more successful—strategy.

You don't want to give up the emotional comfort you find in food

There's nothing else that can quell a case of the blues like your beloved cheesecake or everything-on-it-nachos. The thought of not having something sweet, gooey, and/or cheese-y to turn to when the going gets rough keeps you tethered to your list of go-to comfort foods. Unfortunately, you're suffering from the misconception that losing weight means giving up all the foods you love. The truth is that when you learn moderation and portion control, you can have your cake and eat it, too. You can also learn to add healthy stress-reducers to your arsenal (like a quick walk or a chat with a friend; check out Non-Food Fixes for Emotional Eaters for more ideas) so that you won't need to turn to the chips every time you feel sad or stressed. Not to mention, once you remove food as crutch, it will be much easier to see what's really eating you. Think of it as lifting the veil on your real problem so you can ID and tackle issues that could be holding you back from living a fuller life.

You think of losing weight as stressful—and you have enough in your life

Who needs to spend precious hours in the kitchen cooking healthy meals when you barely have the time to order and inhale pizza? Your full-throttle life can't accommodate any exacting calorie-counting or sweat-inducing activities that don't involve picking up the kids from school or getting to the office on-time. You believe losing weight is just one additional stressor and you're doing yourself a favor by ignoring the scale. The problem is, you may be doing yourself more harm than good. Consider these facts: Exercise relieves stress and keeps you feeling your best; eating healthfully provides sustained energy; if you have the right recipes, healthy meals can be thrown together in the same time it takes you to dial in dinner. Take a second to look through the recipes on the site; you'll find that many of the healthy, tasty meals can be thrown together in just minutes. In the long-run, a healthier you is a less-stressed, more active you, which translates into a more productive life. It's also less stressful if you set moderate, realistic goals. You shouldn’t be losing more than a pound or two a week—anything more is unhealthy.

You're afraid of disappointing

A fear of failure has stalled many a dieter in her tracks. Perhaps you're concerned that you won't meet your own standards or maybe you worry about reaching the expectations of others, so you quit before you can see any real results or, in some cases, before you even get started. Be realistic with yourself, and know that even small changes (like switching from whole milk to skim milk or giving up soda) can have a major effect on not just your weight, but your health, too. The key to staying motivated is to set small and reachable goals for yourself, and then, to reward yourself when you hit them. When it comes to other people, try not to worry so much. If they love you, they'll only want what's best for you. You may be surprised just how supportive and encouraging they can be. Talk to them about your goals and tell them how they can support you along the way.

Thanks to Meeha for passing on this tidbit.

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