top of page

Getting started series- Epidode 1 Barriers!

So you've decided that you'd like to improve your health, lose some fat or maybe gain muscle. But where do you start? My first bit of advice is look at your approaches before. Did they work for you? Did the results last? How did you feel whilst on said approach? Where you misreable, fatigued, cravings throught the roof, did you cut out entire food groups only to obsess about them and binge on them when you stopped your plan or even during. Was the "wagon" present and did you "fall off it" more than a few times? If the answer is yes to some or all of these it's time to re-evaluate and take a different more sustainable method. One that will serve you for the rest of your life. Think of this as a lifestyle change , that doesn't mean being on a diet forever it means finally getting out of the mindset of yo-yo dieting it just doesn't work and if you are honest with yourself I know you'll agree.

So with that being said wher DO you start?

It may not be where you think. I'm talking barriers.

Most of us have good intentions when it comes to eating right and exercising more often. And most of us know the basics of what to eat and what to avoid. But even with the best of intentions, we often end up derailing our progress when we feel tired, or stressed, or bored, or frustrated. And let's face it...these emotions pop up often.

We are all creatures of habit. We find comfort in routine. So, if your routine includes food and activity patterns that have led to an unhealthy weight, it is normal that you seek out those comfortable habits when times get tough. These habits relieve discomfort—at least in the short term.

It's that you likely have strong rationalization skills to support the continuation of unhealthy habits. After all, why would you discontinue a practice that provides relief and comfort?

In the case of food habits, it is particularly difficult to change our habits. Our bodies are designed to eat and we need food to survive. We also feel better when we eat.

But all is not lost if you want to change your habits for weight loss. The psychology of weight loss works against you in some ways, but it can work for you in others. In order to get past your roadblock, you'll first need to figure out specifically, what that roadblock is.

All-or-Nothing Thinking

If you find yourself walking a thin line between sticking to your food plan perfectly or falling off the wagon completely you may be experiencing all-or-nothing thinking. Psychologists use the term "cognitive distortion" to refer to persistent exaggerated thoughts that are not in line with what is actually going on in the real world.

People who experience all-or-nothing thinking while trying to lose weight believe that they are either a complete success or a total failure based on their food choices.

Studies have shown that an all-or-nothing thinking style is closely linked to a perceived lack of control over eating and an inability to maintain a healthy weight.

If you practice all-or-nothing thinking, you probably struggle to return to a healthy eating pattern after enjoying a small indulgence. Instead, you are likely to throw in the towel and overeat based on the assumption that your diet is a complete failure.

Negative Body Image

If you are trying to change your body composition, it is possible that you are less than satisfied with the way it looks in its current state. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve your health or your appearance. But if your body image is too negative it can hinder the weight loss process.

For some people, a negative body image is tied to self-worth. They may think that their worth is determined by body, shape, size, or the food that they eat. This can get in the way of success when trying to develop healthy eating habits or trying to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

It is not clear if a negative body image leads to unhealthy eating or if unhealthy eating leads to a negative body image but our thoughts impact our emotions and behaviors. What is clear is that feeling a strong dissatisfaction with your body can stand in the way of reaching a healthy weight.


There is a good reason that comfort food got its name. For most people, eating feels good. And in times of stress, some people use food as a way to calm emotions While this occasional strategy is not uncommon in people of all body shapes and sizes, it can create problems if you are trying to lose weight or if eating is your only way to cope with stress.

Studies have found that overeating can become a chronic coping mechanism for managing life's stressors. The strategy may be more common among those who are already overweight and it's not just overeating that can be problematic. Your food choices are likely to change when you feel more anxious. Not only do we eat more when stressed, but the foods consumed are foods that are normally avoided for fat loss or health reasons.

Personal or Childhood Trauma

Researcher have found that people who were exposed to physical abuse, sexual abuse, or bullying are at higher risk for obesity. Those who have experienced emotional trauma may adapt their eating habits to the point that it affects their weight.

Some believe that weight gain can be used as an emotionally protective "solution" for survivors of abuse.

Of course, not every person who experiences personal or childhood trauma struggles to maintain a healthy weight. But if you experienced abuse, neglect, or bullying there may be a connection.

Seek out professional help if you are struggling to cope with any issue relating to your mental health.

Tips to Overcome Barriers

You may have found that one or several of the common psychological barriers to weight loss look familiar to you. It is not unusual to experience multiple hurdles on your journey to a healthy weight. But these roadblocks don't need to prevent your success.

Each of these tips and suggestions can address multiple barriers. These suggestions are also healthy strategies for lifelong wellness that carry no side effects and are almost all completely free. Consider giving one or more of these solutions a try.

Keep a Journal

Avoiding stress is not always possible. But you can identify stress triggers and do your best to avoid certain situations or people that undermine your success. Keeping a journal may be helpful in the process. In fact, research has indicated that keeping a journal can double your weight loss results.

There are different ways to use a journal. For instance, you can simply log your food intake with a journal. But you can also use it to write out your thoughts to try to identify stress triggers. Use the journal to keep track of any situations, or foods that may feel triggering to you.

Do you overeat when you are in certain environments or around certain people? Can you identify certain situations that make you feel out of control and in need of comfort?

A journal can help you to identify those circumstances so that you can limit your exposure or avoid them completely.

Make Small Changes

If all-or-nothing thinking is preventing you from sticking to your food plan, consider taking small steps and setting short-term goals. First, identify one specific healthy change that is reasonable and attainable.

Perhaps you can choose to walk for a certain amount of steps each day. Set a goal to focus on that target for a week. If you keep a journal, jot down notes each day about different ways that you have been successful in keeping that goal front of mind. And give yourself credit. Remember that taking a small step is better than taking no steps at all.

Taking single small steps can also help you to avoid making too many changes at once. It can be easy to get overwhelmed if we do too much at once and then we lose motivation. On the other hand, if you are able to make a small change with success, you will feel a sense of accomplishment which then provides motivation to keep going.

Remind yourself that perfection is not the goal, but, rather, any attempt to nudge yourself in the right direction is progress that you should be proud of.

Listen to Self-Talk

Do you pay attention to the messages you send to yourself throughout the day? These pervasive thoughts may be building a roadblock to weight loss success.

Those who are prone to a negative body image may find themselves repeating negative messages about their body throughout the day. Phrases like "I'm so fat" said out loud or in your head can undermine your ability to take a healthy step when the opportunity presents itself.

Self-talk is another way that all-or-nothing thinking can come into play. For instance, you might find that you beat yourself up for reaching unreasonably high standards or goals that you set for yourself.

Take a week or two to listen to your inner dialogue. Identify one or two messages that may be encouraging a negative self-image and write them down. You can then challenge them or replace these messages with a powerful mantra. Phrases such as "my body is strong," "I am enough" or "I have come a long way" can be really powerful.

Learn Relaxation Techniques

If you can't avoid the people or places that cause stress, relaxation techniques can be a healthy alternative for managing emotions during stressful times.

I highly recommend box breathing- Breath in deeply through the nose for a count of 4, hold for 4, then breath out deeply for 4 through the mouth and repeat for 5 rounds or more. This brings you into a parasympathetic state (rest and digest), helps you to think more clearly and make better decisions. I personally feel it brings you out of a situation for a time as an observer rather than being whipped up with it all.

Prioritize Sleep

There is a huge link between sleep habits and stress, depression, and unhealthy eating behaviors. So, one of the easiest and most relaxing steps you can take to overcome psychological barriers is to improve your bedtime habits. A lack of sleep also accelerates a hormone named Ghrelin (the hunger hormone) driving you to eat and especially those high calorie, highly pallatable foods as a form of quick energy.

Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep. Remove electronics and do as much as you can to reduce noise. Get light blocking blinds or buy an inexpensive sleep mask so that you experience total darkness at night. Keep your sleep environment cool and try not eat a big meal to close to bed time as this can play havoc with your sleep patterns as well as alcohol.

Have an evening routine to wind down before bed such as turning off your phone at least an hour prior, taking a hot bath, lowering the lights and maybe reading a book, see what works for you this is such a milestone for every aspect of your life.

Try to go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning to get into a healthy circadian rythme.

There are other barriers of course and each very individual to you. In the next episode we are going to look at habits and behaviour change. I truly believe these first few episodes are the foundations to a succesful and healthy journey and without these in place it can collapse pretty quickly.

If barriers is something that you are struggling with I can help. I currently have a few 1-2-1 client openings so do reach out if this is for you.

Much Love

Coach Tula xx

30 views0 comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page