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Thursday
Nov192015

6 Barriers to Body Fat Loss

There's no denying it. A weight loss journey can feel like a formidable undertaking.

It shuttles us through an often surprising process of emotional, behavioral and physical change.

We take on the tasks of learning more about our bodies' needs for optimal health, of implementing new habits that support our metabolic functioning, of exploring what influences (or even people!) both help and hinder our goals.

As complex as the physical picture of fat loss can be, however, the fulcrum of our success is oftentimes our psychological experience.

Understanding our personal challenges means identifying what trips us up and applying the best strategies to address each concern. Below are 6 of the most common "behavioral" barriers that hamper body fat loss.

Not Knowing Enough

Whether you’ve hit a plateau or haven’t lost a single pound, knowledge of what to do or what move to make can be a common barrier.

With the plethora of online resources, you can easily hit information overload when it comes to weight loss. To boot, oftentimes the information we find online can be misleading or conflicting with other lessons we’ve learned.

There are many things that impact our metabolism, (e.g. sleep, stress, thyroid and sex hormones, toxin load/detoxification), making weight loss much more complex than eating less and moving more!

If you don’t have clear and inclusive knowledge of what it takes to lose weight, empower yourself! Cultivate an open mindset by consulting reputable weight loss resources and reading real life success stories. If you know enough but are unsure where to start, invest in expert support and hire a coach to help identify your most crucial behavior changes.

Biting Off Too Much

When learning about all of the behaviors that can impact weight loss, it’s easy to get excited and try to change any and every unhealthy behavior you’re currently practicing. Although it’s important to identify sabotaging patterns in your diet and lifestyle, trying to change them all at once can leave you feeling overloaded, making it less likely that you’ll stick to these changes over time.

Instead, list out the behaviors you know you should change, and pick the one you feel most ready to address. After you’ve practiced that single behavior change (e.g. drinking 8 cups a water per day) for two weeks, then move on by adding a new behavior to the mix and repeat. This will ensure that you’ve turned your new behaviors into habits that are long lasting.

Not Changing Enough

Unlike the “biting off too much” barrier, not changing enough tends to become apparent over time on a weight loss journey.

Our metabolisms are very complex, and although I generally suggest compiling small behavior changes, sometimes we just don’t change enough to see an impact. Alternatively, you may be missing a key component in your comprehensive lifestyle approach.

For example, if you know sleep is crucial for optimal health and weight management, yet you still only allow yourself 6 or fewer hours per night, understand that this behavior could be a linchpin in your weight loss experience.

Likewise, not everything that may have worked for you in the past is necessarily enough this time around. I’ve often coached clients who’ve had success in the past with minimal changes (e.g. giving up soda). However, when they try to repeat their past attempts, they fall short of success.

Overcome this barrier by understanding that your metabolism is complex and accepting that what works for you may not work for someone else or for yourself at a different point in your life. Adopt the basic behaviors suggested for weight loss, but try some strategic self-experimentation - and record your results! Seek out the support of a coach if you would like guidance.

Falling Prey to Workplace Snares

Where we spend our “9 to 5” can make or break our journeys if we let it.

If you’re like most people, you’re surrounded by sedentary behavior, break room treats and luncheon potlucks as well as unhealthy coworkers.

Break this barrier by first identifying your personal weaknesses at work and listing strategies to help avoid them. Stick to a plan that has you packing a healthy lunch every day versus joining your coworkers for fast food or restaurant meals. Break up your day by taking frequent “activity” breaks (e.g. walking or stair climbing) alone or with a coworker to avoid sitting the entire day.

Feeling Constrained by Money

As we learn more about healthy living, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by the perceived cost of it!

We might add up the dollars devoted to a gym membership, gym shoes, organic produce, grass-fed meat, supplements, etc. and question the value of the added expense. I’ve often had clients tell me right from the get-go that they can’t afford to be healthy.

It’s helpful in these cases to work with the perception itself.

Overcome this barrier by implementing small changes, exploring alternative shopping sources, and making (and sticking to!) a budget. There are so many ways to eat healthily on a budget as well as places to exercise if you can’t afford a gym membership.

This said, it’s useful to examine these expenses within the context of your overall budget and consider how your spending supports (or doesn’t support) your biggest priorities. I’ve often helped clients go through their discretionary household spending (e.g. cable, coffee runs, restaurant expenses) to find reasonable ways to reallocate funds toward their health goals.

Running Short on Time

The average American works well over 40 hours a week, often accompanied by a long commute. It’s not surprising that time seems to be the biggest constraint for my clients in a weight loss journey.

Trying to find time to work out, sleep and do meal prep can feel daunting to most of us. This is where a coach can come in especially handy.

Knowing that time is a scarce resource (and common barrier), a coach can help you fine-tune your efforts for maximum efficiency. If you have a limited number of hours to spend in the gym each week, a personal trainer can help you develop a plan around the optimum exercises for your goal.

If making time for healthy meals is difficult, working with a nutrition coach can help you target meal prep and batch cooking strategies for your taste.

Would you like more support and strategies around healthy behavior change? Talk with one of our dietitians, trainers or weight loss coaches today. Thanks for reading, everyone! 

In health, Anika Christ, Senior Program Manager of Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

 

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