Your Mind On Your Tummy & Your Tummy On Your Mind

It doesn’t matter where you are in life, your weight is going to play a factor in your confidence levels. Social media and celebrity culture are mainly the issue, with magazines aimed at girls as young as twelve that tell them how to be healthier, which foods to eat for good skin, toned stomach and which exercises to do for toned thighs. It doesn’t get better as we get older, either, as magazines are written to empower and encourage women to feel good about themselves – and yet later in the same magazine we are presented with weight loss tips and then recipes for healthy eating. It’s mind boggling, trying to keep up with societal expectations of weight. And we are our own worst enemies! We put so much pressure on ourselves to do better with our health and our weight, believing that if we aren’t the perfect size that we are somehow not as worthy as those who are. Losing weight is beneficial to your health, we all know that, but it’s not always beneficial to your mental health.

The effort that you put in to making your lifestyle healthier and your weight more manageable has positive side effects. You feel more energised with the best pre-workout supplements and time spent in the gym. You feel invigorated, with better skin and healthier hair. You can wear clothes in sizes that can give you confidence that you forgot you could have. All of these things are wonderful positives and can really give you a boost to both confidence and self-esteem, however, there are some negatives. Weight loss can negatively affect your mental health – especially if you have the type of personality that would obsess over the losses. Rapid results that you are not prepared for can also have a very negative effect on your mental state. When you have been so used to living in a certain body, it can be very difficult to imagine something different. The work you put in to make positive changes can make you feel anxious and stressed, and in extreme cases, lead to eating disorders.

Depression has been the most common side effect of extreme weight loss. Those who begin their weight loss journey often have very low self-esteem, and despite the amount of weight that they can lose, there are some cases where the loss isn’t enough. People who have spent their life on the higher BMI side often believe that they will be happier, if only they can just get to a healthy BMI. When that healthy BMI turns out not to bring life-enduring happiness, it’s a slap in the face. It means that weight wasn’t the only issue in life and there is something deeper that has to be fixed. It can be a crushing blow to realise that once the weight is gone, the problems in life still remain. Losing weight has to be something that makes you happy but as a bonus to the rest of your life.

Keeping the weight off can be just as stress-inducing as trying to lose it in the first place. Struggling with the pressure to maintain weight for emotional eaters can lead to feelings of anxiety. It’s not often that people think about the mental health side of weight loss, but rapid losses can lead to so many other issues that weren’t apparent in the first place. If you spend your whole life associating food with pleasure, fun and comfort, the changes you make to your mindset can be very difficult in maintenance. Depriving yourself of food while you are maintaining your weight will make you give in to feelings of anxiety sooner or later, so it’s important to never deprive yourself of food. Mindful eating means being moderate with your choices. You need a fully balanced diet to be able to enjoy food, but not to the point of gluttony.

Exercise is directly linked to mental health. When you have cabin fever in the house, you go out for a long walk in the fresh air and feel invigorated and energised. A simple jog or workout can pump enough adrenaline and oxytocin through your body to make you feel happier and more alive. The endorphins that are released in the brain create a natural euphoria and is a natural way to lift a mood. It can be very hard for depression and anxiety to fit in when your hormones are doing enough post-workout to keep you lifted up. Doctors often recommend to those with anxiety or depression to schedule regular workouts. Exercise can work for mental health just as much as pills and potions can.

When you have your mind caught up on your weight and your weight loss journey, you have to keep it there for the right reasons. Are you focusing on your weight because you want to be healthier, or are you of the opinion that losing weight will make you more beautiful than you already are? If it’s the latter, then instead of focusing on shedding pounds, you need to work on low confidence and low self-esteem, instead of shedding pounds. You cannot lose weight healthily if you are not in a healthy mindset. Life changes that affect your weight run from extreme losses due to career and family stress and grief, to extreme gains due to comfort eating in during a period of depression. Emotional eating can be dangerous – the worse you feel, the more you eat and then you feel worse all over again. It’s a cycle that no one wants to be trapped in, but an inevitable one for those who turn to food as a crutch during hard times.

One of the biggest changes that your body can go through is pregnancy, and when your body spends nine months stretching and changing while gaining weight from the baby, placenta, fluid, blood and fat, your body is unrecognisable after that time. There is also a lot of pressure on women to snap back to their pre-baby weight pretty much straight away. This focus that society places on a celebrity and their ability to squeeze back into their jeans is detrimental to other new mothers of ‘normal’ social standing. The thing to remember is that celebrities often have a personal chef, personal trainer and al the time in the world to exercise and eat well. Normal mothers don’t get that luxury! Having realistic expectations about your weight loss once your baby is born is important. A lot of people don’t imagine that they’ll have anything other than a flat tummy to deal with after a baby is born. In fact, it takes nine months for your body to go through all the changes, so you have to understand that it will take up to that amount of time again for your body to get back to its beginnings.

Mental health issues can develop after a battle with your weight and if you are aware of these before you get started, then you are putting yourself in a more secure position to stay healthy mentally while you lose the weight. There is a stigma surrounding dieting, and with so many to choose from before you embark on your weight loss journey, you could descend into stress trying to work out what is right for your particular body type and lifestyle. It’s important to choose a lifestyle change – NOT a diet. A diet implies something temporary with an end goal, and yet a lifestyle change is a long term plan to make yourself feel healthier without any of the pressure to get to a goal at all. Changing your lifestyle instead of just the numbers on a scale is important. Balance is important. If you have lost sight of this, you need to get this back as soon as possible so that you can be in a healthy frame of mind before you get started.

When your weight is consuming your thoughts, and interfering with your life plans, you need to do something about it. But do something about it for yourself and not because you want to get into a tiny pair of jeans. Do it because being healthy matters to you – your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and heart health matter to you, so make it obvious by getting healthy. You can get your mind on to your life and off your weight if you look at the bigger picture. Focus on why you are unhealthy and fix those problems, then move onto the actual issue of weight. Heal yourself mentally before you start dropping pounds, and you can guarantee that you will have success. Here’s the biggest question you will ever ask yourself before you embark on a weight loss plan. Are you more depressed about your weight making you unhealthy, or are you more depressed with the idea of trying to maintain a healthy weight and a more active lifestyle. Losing weight is hard. Being obese is hard. Pick your hard.

About Jammie Morey

Jammie is Owner of Dizzy Mommy Chronicles. Dizzy Mommy Chronicles is a place where Jammie can get control of her weight, one post at a time. For more information visit on Google+.

Speak Your Mind