The Real Reason You Can't Lose Weight
Weight-Loss Reality Checks
Fat Trap: Success Makes You Anxious
Sure, we say we want the abs of a Marine and cellulite-free thighs, but deep down the idea of having a perfect body can be unnerving. Why? In part because we attach additional outcomes to weight loss -- a glamorous new career, a date with Mr. Hot and Tempting -- and then stress about whether we can really get everything we want. Truth is, you won't hatch a whole new world just because you're thinner. What's more, "if you've been trying to drop pounds for a while, it may be anticlimactic when you reach the desired number," Rosenfeld cautions. "People are goal-oriented. If you're no longer striving toward something, there's a sense of, Now what?"
Reality check: "There are no magical outcomes from losing weight," Barth says. Being slimmer will not make you richer or smarter. It may, however, reinvigorate your heart and lighten your stride, so you can sprint past the finish line in half the time.
Fat Trap: You Can't Face Your Feelings
Losing weight is hard, but it can be even harder to deal with the reason you put on pounds in the first place. In fact, 52 percent of women say that focusing on their weight problem distracts them from other negative issues in their lives, whether it's a bad relationship, an unsatisfying job, or overdue bills. Compared with confronting an unhappy marriage, losing 10 pounds can seem downright...pleasant. The difficulty is, once you shed the weight, you're forced to see that your size wasn't the source of your misery after all, and the pounds quickly pile back on.
"If you've been overeating as a way to cope with a job you hate or a partner who isn't compassionate, you'll still be sorting through those feelings when you're thinner," Barth says. What you need is another outlet for your emotions. Exercise may be nature's perfect antidote: It boosts endorphins, lowers stress, and helps you look better naked. And there's a workout ideally suited to remedy any bad day. Coworker stole your idea? Throw some left jabs in kickboxing class. Mother-in-law criticized your parenting? Strike a child's pose in yoga. Lonely? Sign up for a recreational adult sports team. Exercising, like eating, will not fix whatever is broken in your life. But at least it'll keep you on a healthier road while you figure things out.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, February 2010.
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