How to Support Your Mental Health During a Weight-Loss Journey
Let me be the first to admit that the pressure to fit into society’s beauty standards can often outweigh any logic to support my mental health. While weight loss can go together with newfound confidence and happiness, the journey to reclaim your health is not easy. And without a proper mindset, the desire to look a certain way can lead to obsessive thoughts, over-exercising, and eating disorders.
I am not a mental health professional or fitness fanatic. But since starting my own diet and exercise routine, I have learned a thing or two about how to stay motivated and happy.
So, before you set a weight-loss goal, take the time to plan a self-care system for your weight-loss journey.
1) Find what works for you
Legally Blonde‘s Elle Woods wasn’t lying—exercise does release endorphins and endorphins can make you happy. But you should enjoy the workout in the first place, too. Take your time to find something that you really like, whether it’s yoga, cycling, weight training, or dancing. If you love the routine, it’ll be much easier to stick with it long term.
The same is true for your diet, which is key to a successful weight loss plan. A diet void of processed foods, added salt, and simple sugars—like The Paleo Diet®—is a great first step. Experiment with new recipes each week until you find a food plan that works for your taste buds, health, and daily schedule.
My general rule: If your weight-loss plan causes you anxiety or frustration, then it’s probably not working. Find what you enjoy, and the results will follow.
2) Forget the numbers
Don’t get me wrong, it can be good to track your progress in order to stay accountable for your goals, but obsessing over numbers can be a slippery slope. The numbers on a scale are not always accurate to the progress of your health journey and can cause stress if they’re not the numbers you were hoping to see.
That said, if you want to numerically track your progress, try measuring and/or weighing yourself only once a week. Your body weight can fluctuate up to six pounds a day, so a daily weigh-in is probably not going to give you much of an indication of overall progress.
The same goes for counting calories. While logging your meals can be important in identifying trends, such as what upsets your stomach, tracking every calorie in and out can lead to unhealthy restrictions. Instead of obsessing over numbers, try listening to your body. Track your progress by noting your day-to-day mood and energy levels to see what’s working best for you.
3) Take a social media break
Social media is a double-edged sword; it can help bring communities closer together, but it can also have a negative impact on self-esteem. While nobody’s life is as perfect as it may seem online, it’s easy to compare ourselves to others. Staying off social media can help you feel less stressed, be more productive, and focus on yourself.
If you don’t want to take a full social media break, try to at least limit the time you scroll. Unfollow any accounts that make you feel self-conscious and replace them with those that motivate you. Look for people who are vulnerable about their own weight-loss journeys or body image struggles. When you find an account you can relate to, you won’t feel so alone in your weight-loss journey.
4) Check in with yourself
Time moves quickly. The day can easily get away from you, especially when you juggle work and relationships alongside exercise and diet. Remember to pause, take a few slow, deep breaths and check in with yourself. Assessing your personal feelings can help you better understand what you need and your emotional bandwidth to complete tasks. This, in turn, can help you have a more productive and stress-free day.
There are dozens of smart ways to check in with yourself, such as journaling or marking your mood on a calendar. If writing things down doesn’t work for you, try mindful activities like meditation to help you concentrate and relax.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- Am I excited to workout and eat healthy, or do I feel overwhelmed?
- How am I feeling today? How is my body feeling today?
- What am I proud of this week?
- Who can I lean on for support?
5) Treat yourself
Please, please, please let go of the all-or-nothing mentality. A healthy lifestyle is about balance. At The Paleo Diet® we believe in the 85/15 rule: 85% of the time you should eat natural, whole foods, but indulging in your favorite non-Paleo foods 15% of the time isn’t going to disrupt your health.
Case in point, don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect all the time. Not only does life happen, but you will resent your weight-loss goals if you don’t simultaneously live your life. Skip the guilt if you want to indulge in a slice of cake—just get back into your healthy regime the next day.
The Bottom Line
Moving your body and eating healthy can be a form of self-love, not just a way to lose weight. Remember, a good health routine always takes your mental health into consideration, too!
Emily Rumsey joined The Paleo Diet® in the summer of 2020 and then was promoted to Website Manager. She graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a BA in Journalism.More About The Author