The Weight Of It All: How To Bounce Back When Your Efforts Fall Flat


Getty Images

Inspired by the start of a new year, Erin Kabba set a goal to lose weight and embrace a healthier lifestyle. Her plan was to lose about 45 pounds within the year and incorporate more plant-based meals. However, a back injury changed those plans, making her inactive for months, causing her to gain an additional 35 pounds. It was devastating.

Weight loss as a goal can cause stress, anxiety, depression and even lead some to substance abuse. While having a weight-loss goal can be a healthy objective that improves a person’s quality of life, the methods used to shed pounds and the pressure around needing to hit a specific goal can be a disastrous combination. So what happens when that new year weight-loss goal falls flat? How do you cope? Here’s what our experts have to say.

Is Weight the Most Important Number?

Obesity is commonly associated with many health risks. This is even more alarming with nearly 48% (37.1% men and 56.6% women) of Black Americans considered to be clinically obese compared to 32.6 percent of whites.

We now know that the number on the scale, which is used to calculate body mass index (BMI), is not the sole and most reliable indicator of good health. In June 2023, the American Medical Association (AMA) advised against using BMI as the only indicator of health, instead suggesting that “it be used in conjunction with other valid measures of risk such as, but not limited to, measurements of visceral fat, body adiposity index, body composition, relative fat mass, waist circumference and genetic/metabolic factors.”

Janel Gordon, MD, triple board certified family, obesity and lifestyle medicine physician says BMI certainly isn’t all she goes by when determining the state of one’s health. “I use BMI and pounds or kilograms on the scale, waist circumference and fat mass by bod-pod measurement, in addition to other metabolic factors, to evaluate my patients,” she tells ESSENCE. Gordon suggests that at home, individuals take note of how clothes fit in addition to the numbers seen on the scale. Many at-home scales also offer the ability to input your baseline data, which can be tracked along your journey. Though results may not be 100% accurate, they can be used in comparison to measurements taken in a doctor’s office, ensuring proximity in numbers and a similar trend in the desired direction.

Health Goals vs Weight-Loss Goals

Individuals should consider their reason for wanting to lose weight when seeking to change their habits in the new year. Some have an important milestone coming up, an anniversary, big event or health challenges requiring intervention sooner rather than later. The reason will be important to keep in mind during plateaus and setbacks. Think about what you expect to change if and when the weight is lost. Do you anticipate being happier? Do you expect your romantic relationships and friendships will improve? Do you think people will like you more? Most often, what is being sought through weight loss can be achieved without losing a single pound. Instead, consider your relationship with food and exercise. Think about what can help you maintain your “ideal” weight and try not to make drastic decisions, like fasting or committing to an intense workout regimen alone.

Gordon advises that people meet with a board certified physician or obesity medicine specialist prior to starting a weight-loss journey. At this visit, the physician should review your current weight, heart rate, blood pressure, medications that could contribute to weight gain, as well as personal and family medical history. Your doctor should discuss alcohol use as some drinks tend to be higher in calories and excess consumption could point to underlying stress that can contribute to weight gain and other medical diseases. Also, if you have heart disease risk factors, this could affect exercise tolerance or be a contraindication for certain medications. Assess any gastrointestinal symptoms, which are common side effects of many weight-loss medications and depending on severity can be an indication for surgery. Your mobility issues, nutrition, including screening for food insecurity, and sleep habits, can contribute to weight gain and make it difficult to shed pounds.

Additionally, the care team will screen for mental health disorders because they could contribute to weight gain and make it more difficult to lose and maintain weight loss or be an indication for certain medications.

The Weight Of It All: How To Bounce Back When Your Efforts Fall Flat
Courtesy of Erin Kabba

“Weighing” Your Mental Health

Racine Henry, PhD, LMFT shared that the negative impact of weight-loss goals can be decreased self-esteem, even when a person is successful. “Obviously, not meeting your goal can cause sadness, shame and guilt but I have also seen that meeting the goal can bring guilt for not doing it sooner, for not avoiding the need for weight-loss goals with past choices, and also an intense pressure to maintain the newly achieved weight,” says Henry. Kabba can relate.

“I was already going to therapy regularly and at the time I chose not to discuss it with my therapist because I felt ashamed,” she says. Kabba had an endoscopic gastric sleeve (ESG) four years ago and was able to lose almost 90 pounds, but ended up regaining around 35 of it. She had feelings of shame because she not only contributed to her weight gain, but also had not used learned tools to manage her weight.

Her feelings of shame were exacerbated when family members started noticing. “My mother randomly suggested I start taking some diet pills she read about,” says Kabba. “I traveled to London over the summer and tried to hide behind people or use a specific angle when taking photos. I found myself either cropping pictures or not posting them altogether because I was so ashamed of how big I looked and how others would see me.”

A person can also go into isolation when pursuing weight-loss goals, thereby sacrificing meaningful relationships and missing out on opportunities for support and connection, explains Henry. Weight loss itself can cause other biopsychosocial consequences, especially if it is a drastic and sudden loss.

Feelings of disappointment or failure are also normal when a goal isn’t met. When restarting a journey, think about what led to you being unsuccessful and try to come up with a new plan that addresses those constraints. Take some time to sit with your negative feelings and allow yourself the time and space to heal. Then, if you feel ready and motivated, try again. “It’s never too late to be as healthy as you want to be and losing a certain amount of weight does not guarantee that you are being healthy or that you will be happy,” cautions Henry.

Kabba has a new approach to losing and maintaining a healthy weight. “I began to address the relationship I had with food and made a conscious effort to identify the times when I reached for something to eat out of sadness or extreme happiness,” she says. She also started paying more attention to her mental health by strengthening her meditation and spiritual practices. She meditates for five to 30 minutes every morning, centering herself and her thoughts. She also uses affirmations to combat the negative thoughts she sometimes has about herself.

Create a Healthy Exercise Regimen

If you decide to revamp and tackle those weight-loss goals, Garrette Campbell, certified personal trainer, reminds us that you should not approach new year weight-loss goals with a short-term mindset. “Sustainable weight loss usually requires long-term commitment,” says Campbell.

She shares the following tips for staying on track with your workouts:

  • Determine how many days a week you can commit to exercising.
  • Choose a routine that can be adapted to changes in your schedule or environment.
  • If you have any health concerns or specific fitness goals, consider consulting with a fitness professional or healthcare provider.
  • Begin with manageable workouts, especially if you’re new to exercising. This helps prevent burnout and reduces the risk of injury.
  • Choose activities that you enjoy so you will be motivated to be consistent.
  • Pay attention to how your body responds to different types of exercise. If a particular activity causes discomfort or pain, modify or choose an alternative.
  • Be attentive to your body’s signals. If you’re feeling fatigued or experiencing pain, it’s okay to adjust your workout or take a rest day.
  • Keep a workout journal or use fitness apps to track your progress. Seeing improvements can be highly motivating.

What worked for you five years ago may not work today. What works for your best friend, family member or partner, may not work for you. With that in mind, there’s no fool-proof way to get the weight off and keep it off. But with the proper planning and effort, you can see a change. Give yourself grace regardless of past experiences and be open to learning during your weight-loss journey, no matter how many times you restart it.


Source link

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply