Why the “Big Picture” Matters for Weight Loss
So much exercise media focuses on finding the perfect fat-burning workout, the fat-fighting superfood, or the eat-more-fat-to-lose-more-fat magic solution. We want to hack, trick, and coax our bodies into losing weight quickly and easily, but we often overlook one important point:
There is no silver bullet.
For my clients, weight loss is more than “calories in, calories out,” although that is technically the only way to shed pounds. Changing your body composition is a transformation that, instead of being a linear, A-to-B process, is more like an intricate web of lifestyle factors that includes far more than just what you eat and how you exercise.
In fact, most people know what they are supposed to do to get healthier. They just don’t do it — not consistently, at least. Why not?
Self-sabotage is the single biggest obstacle to weight loss for my clients.
Why do we self-sabotage? Because the changes that we attempt to make in our lifestyles do not fit in the “web” that is already the supporting structure of your life. We can muscle through a few determined changes, fueled by willpower alone… until life throws a curve ball. And when the unexpected and the unprepared-for events happen, we fall back on our autopilot procedures.
Then, our old habits come back, because we changed the behavior, but didn’t change the context.
Changing the context of our lives is essential for weight loss.
If you have struggled to consistently lose weight and keep it off, then you may want to take a look at other areas of your life that could affect a healthy lifestyle:
Are you happy with your relationships? Do you have friends that you spend time with regularly? Do you enjoy your own company? Do you like where you live? All of these things can affect our feelings – both about ourselves and about the outside world – deeply. And we all know what a big impact feelings can have on our eating and exercise habits.
Are you happy with your job/work? Does it mentally challenge you? Do you have the right amount of authority/responsibility for your experience? Do you need to take on more, or delegate more? Do you need to ask for a raise? It may seem unrelated, but job stress can be a deep undercurrent of negativity in our lifestyle that can tremendously affect health. Why? Because the job becomes the scapegoat for everything, including missed workouts and weird, on-the-go meals.
Do you have enough time off? How is your commute? How busy are your kids, if you have them? Do you have time and space in your house (or access to a gym) to exercise? Do you have the right equipment and clothes to exercise? Do you have the time to shop for food and prepare nutritious meals, or is this something that you need to hire out? Sustaining healthy changes is a lot easier if you are realistic about your logistics, and some things about your life may need to change in order to make room for healthy habits.
Are your parents overweight? Do you hold a belief that you cannot lose weight? Have you lost weight and regained it so many times that you have internalized the message that you cannot keep it off? Beliefs are very important, because they create an artificial ceiling on what we can accomplish. Beliefs take time to change, too. It’s not a realization and then — POOF — weight gone! Changing your mindset about what you can achieve is a day-by-day process that takes dedication as well as support from others.
Losing weight can be almost effortless, if all of the other pieces are in place. It can be a steep uphill challenge that feels impossible, however, if there are obstacles in your way. While you can’t address everything at once – and life will never be perfect! – there are certainly some things that affect you more than others, which deserve immediate attention.
Spend some time figuring out what other lifestyle factors you can change, so that your weight loss efforts are practical, sustainable, and — yes — enjoyable!