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The Real Struggle In Weight Loss

Written by: Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC

Weight loss, at its core, is a straightforward concept – the quality and amount of calories in versus the calories a person expends. Yet, the path to shedding excess pounds is often clouded by a complex web of thoughts, doubts, and emotions. The paradox lies in the simplicity of the formula versus the intricacy of the human mind. The real challenge isn't found in the mathematics of calorie counting or the intensity of workouts; it resides in our ability to navigate the mental and emotional landscapes that have become ingrained in our daily lives.

Woman struggle on weight loss

We all start on the weight loss journey with enthusiasm, armed with diet plans and exercise routines. The initial days might bring about visible changes, but sustaining these alterations proves to be the true test. The crux of the matter is the need to confront our comfort zones – the behavioral patterns, eating habits, and lifestyles that we’ve grown accustomed to. It’s in this discomfort that the battleground of weight loss lies. So often, this is the arena most difficult for my clients.


1. Emotional intelligence


Our mind plays a pivotal role in the weight loss narrative. The challenge is not just physical; it's deeply rooted in the psychological resistance to change. Thoughts like "I've always been this way" “My whole family is big” “I don’t have any willpower” or "I can't give up my favorite foods" are formidable barriers. The comfort derived from the familiar, even if it's detrimental to our health, becomes a serious opponent on our path to transformation.


To achieve lasting weight loss, we’ll need to confront these mental barriers head-on. It's not just about reshaping the body; it's about retraining the mind. Acknowledging and challenging these ingrained thoughts is the first step. Understanding that the discomfort associated with change is not a signal to retreat but an indication that growth is happening, is crucial.


Developing your Emotional Intelligence–your ability to recognize how your thoughts and emotions and your reactions to the thoughts and emotions of others affect your decisions–will ultimately give you the ability to make choices that support your success rather than sabotage it. This type of growth will reshape your reactions to your experiences, your environment, the people around you and even to yourself. LINK


2. Emotional eating

Moreover, emotions, often intertwined with our eating habits, play a significant role. Food can become a source of comfort, a coping mechanism for stress, boredom, or even celebration. The task then becomes not just altering our dietary patterns but redefining our emotional relationship with food. It requires a willingness to sit with discomfort, to find alternative outlets for emotional expression, and to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional cravings.


Being mentally and emotionally uncomfortable when we’re trying to grow and change doesn't mean we’ll remain in this state of distress. Rather, it signifies a transition period where one learns to navigate the unfamiliar feelings of new habits and behaviors. The discomfort is temporary and leads to a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. It's a bridge between the old and the new, a necessary passage for personal growth.

3. Choosing self & community


In a world inundated with quick fixes and miracle diets, the essence of weight loss simplicity often gets lost. The real obstacle is not in finding the perfect diet or the most effective workout routine; it's in staying committed to the journey despite the mental and emotional turbulence of the transformation, work, relationships…life.


Support systems become invaluable during this transformation. Whether it's seeking guidance from a health coach, joining a fitness community, or confiding in friends and family, having a network to share the struggles and triumphs helps in normalizing the discomfort. It reinforces the idea that the path to weight loss is not a solitary one; it's a shared experience that many navigate together.


4. Accentuate the positive


Our brains are wired to remember the negative. So accentuating and focusing on the positive takes some effort. It's incredibly important to celebrate small victories, our “wins’’ along the way. Link Every healthy meal, each workout completed, the nights we get sleep and every moment of resisting temptation is a triumph. When we achieve a small ‘win’, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that’s associated with pleasure and reward. Dopamine makes us feel good and motivates us to keep going. Small wins help us develop confidence and self-efficacy.


Take notes, journal, make a list of your successes, talk about the ‘wins.’ Recognizing and acknowledging our victories instead of focusing on our slips, reinforces the positive changes and contributes to the mental and emotional resilience we’ll need to get to our goals.

Weight loss is simple in its essence – burn more calories than you consume, choose high quality, healthy foods & beverages and get sleep. However, the true challenge arises not from the simplicity of the formula but from its intricate dance with our own thoughts, doubts, and emotions. When we start this journey, if we understand that we may be mentally and emotionally uncomfortable for a period, we have a better chance of succeeding. It's a transformative process that requires rewiring the mind, redefining our emotional relationship with food, and navigating the discomfort as a sign of growth.


As a health coach, I strive to empower my clients to take a leading role in their own health and well-being as it fits their values, preferences, and life. This process involves strategies to explore and envision what truly matters to the women who come to me for help. It includes non-judgmental and open conversations about the difficulties of retraining one’s thoughts and reactions to themselves, their environment and the people in their lives. The aim is to help them move towards an intentional state of taking actions and put into practice sustainable, positive behavioral changes to their lifestyle. In this way, these women create their own Midlife Renaissance

To follow me and learn more information about Midlife Confidence, health coaching and my online group coaching program connect with me through Facebook, IG, and LinkedIn.

Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC Brainz Magazine

Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Michele DeJesus, PhD, NBC-HWC is a board-certified & Mayo Clinic-certified Health Coach and an ACE-certified Personal Trainer with a PhD. in Holistic Nutrition. She is the CEO of a 26-year coaching business, successfully guiding adults in transforming their health, fitness and weight loss. Michele has been featured in the IDEA Health & Fitness online magazine as well as numerous television appearances speaking about fitness, weight loss and health. She is the host of the Facebook group, MIDLIFE CONFIDENCE: Women Conquering Weight Loss and the creator of an online 12-week weight loss intensive for midlife women. Her mission is to support midlife women in creating their own health & wellness Renaissance.



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