Losing weight can be a challenging journey that requires dedication and persistence. While many people focus on diet and exercise as the key components of weight loss, there are often underlying emotional and psychological factors that contribute to difficulties in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. In this article, we will explore various barriers to weight loss, including emotional eating, misinformation, social media influence, exercise, work/life balance, fad diets, and the importance of seeking professional guidance. By understanding these obstacles and adopting effective strategies, individuals can overcome these challenges and achieve long-term success in their weight loss goals.
The article “When food is more than nutrition” by Kemp et. al  starts with this quote from a participant called Margaret:
“Every day I get up with the intention of trying to eat better. I honestly do. I want to eat better. I want to be healthy…But food is comfort to me. If I am sad, I want chips, fried food or gumbo…I try not to eat these things, but I do.”
Time and time again, often I hear clients talk this way. They have the best intentions but things happen. Before they know it, they have completely blown their diet for the day. And this can lead to spiralling. Now take a moment to reflect and put yourself in Margarets’ shoes…does this resonate with you or a situation you have been in with a client?
Emotional eating is a common barrier to weight loss that involves using food as a way to cope with negative emotions such as stress, sadness, or boredom. Many people turn to food for comfort, seeking solace in high-calorie, sugary, or fatty foods . Ozier et al. (2008) cited in  found a positive relationship between emotional eating and both obesity and overweight. Further issues lie in the fact that these individuals often do not recognise the risk of this connection and do not seek professional help to overcome it . We will explore referral procedures later. However, in the early stages, to overcome emotional eating, it is essential to develop a deeper understanding of the emotional triggers and learn healthier coping mechanisms. Some effective strategies include:
In today’s digital age, where information is readily available, it can be challenging to distinguish reliable weight loss advice from misinformation. We often find stories, sponsored ads and adverts on social media flaunting quick-fix claims for weight loss, like a miracle pill. And in today’s fast-paced life, why can we also fast-track weight loss? In one study, social media was found to have highly misleading information on many subjects surrounding our health, not just weight management . No wonder our clients have trouble finding the truth. More on social media specifics later. Misleading claims, fad diets, and miracle weight loss products can create confusion and hinder progress. To overcome the influence of misinformation, it is important to:
Social media platforms can have a significant impact on weight loss efforts, both positively and negatively. While they can provide motivation and support, they can also contribute to body image issues and unrealistic expectations. To navigate social media’s influence on weight loss effectively:
If you are reading this, you are one of two people:
Whichever you are, or neither, we all know the benefit an increase in physical activity can have on our bodies, both physically and mentally.
Regular physical activity plays a crucial role in weight loss by burning calories, improving overall fitness, and enhancing mental well-being. It is so crucial that the Department of Health has specific guidelines for each age group about the minimal amount of physical activity one should accomplish. These are as follows:
(Source: Physical activity and exercise guidelines of all Australians )
These guidelines also outline minimum physical activity requirements for older adults, people during pregnancy and those with disabilities and chronic diseases. For more information on these guidelines head here to explore more.
Even with these minimal requirements outlined by the Department of Health, people often find incorporating exercise into a daily routine can still be challenging. To overcome this barrier:
Balancing work and personal life can be demanding, often leaving little time and energy for healthy lifestyle choices. Not to mention if your work comes home with you via tasks or work from home. Today we are more ‘plugged in’ than ever and we find it hard to turn off at the end of the day. To achieve weight loss goals while managing work-related stress and responsibilities:
Fad diets promise quick and dramatic weight loss results but often lack scientific evidence and sustainability . These diets can pose significant health risks and lead to nutritional deficiencies. To avoid falling into the trap of fad diets:
Overcoming emotional eating and other barriers to weight loss requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the psychological, social, and physical aspects of individuals’ lives. By understanding the role of emotional eating, critically evaluating information, navigating social media influences, prioritising exercise, maintaining work/life balance, and seeking professional guidance, individuals can achieve sustainable weight loss and improve overall well-being. Remember, weight loss is a journey, and focusing on long-term health and well-being should be the ultimate goal.
Disclaimer: Where Certificate III in Fitness, Cert III/Cert 3, or Fitness Coach is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Fitness, Cert IV/Cert 4, or Personal Trainer is mentioned, it refers to SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Program™ is mentioned, it refers to Fitness Essentials and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Plus+ Program™ is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Massage or Cert IV/Cert 4 is mentioned, it refers to HLT42021 Certificate IV in Massage Therapy. Where Diploma of Remedial Massage is mentioned, it refers to HLT52021 Diploma of Remedial Massage.