When you think of trying to lose weight, you probably don’t think of pampering yourself. But it’s probably just what you need! It’s the perfect time to think healthy thoughts and put on those bunny slippers — at least metaphorically.
The truth is that weight loss, especially in the early phases, takes a toll on you mentally and physically. It’s downright exhausting! You’re watching what you eat, saying no to some of your favorite treats and working out a lot more than you used to.
If that weren’t enough, there are two scientific reasons why weight loss makes you so darn tired!
1. Fat cells are the garbage cans of your body.
At the center of every fat call is a repository where the body locks up toxins. When you burn fat for fuel, those toxins are dumped into your bloodstream — all day, every day — for as long as you’re dieting. This can make you very, very tired.
2. To lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than you burn.
That’s just the math of weight loss. But it also means that in order to burn fat for fuel, you have to be running a fuel deficit. And that simply won’t feel great.
Why You Should Pamper Yourself
It’s not like you need an excuse to do something nice for yourself, but here it is. If you find time to relax and take it easy during this period of exhaustion, it’ll help you shed those pounds more easily.
How? You need willpower to turn your old, unhealthy eating and exercise habits into better ones. The problem is that your brain only has a 15-minute reserve of it at a time. Once the glucose in that part of the brain is used up, it becomes almost impossible to continue to self-regulate.
And if you happen to be making a food choice at that moment, you’re a sitting duck for bad decisions. You’re probably going to give in to your insatiable hunger or overpowering cravings instead of sticking with your plan for losing weight.
So give yourself a break! You can’t be expected to be the Superman or Wonder Woman of weight loss 24/7. But find a way of treating yourself that doesn’t involve food. Take a walk in a beautiful part of your neighborhood, get a massage or a pedicure, light your favorite scented candle and take several deep breaths or, sure, keep a pair of bunny slippers by your desk and slip them on every now and again.
For a weight-loss strategy to show long-term results, it must anticipate that you’ll run out of willpower multiple times every day. The key is never making decisions on the fly. You can’t trust your brain to act in your best interest when the brain stem has blocked leptin — the satiety hormone — so your brain is telling you you’ll die without a doughnut.
3 Steps to Easier, More Relaxed Weight Loss
First, start by eliminating stressors. Don’t say yes to chairing the big PTA fundraiser or taking on a project at work that will mean weeks of lost sleep. Wherever possible, take life down a notch so that the huge lifestyle changes you’re making get the space and respect they deserve.
Next, plan out delicious and nutritious meals the night before. Then all you have to do the next day is follow what the well-rested, well-fed, best-intentioned parts of your brain wanted for you all along. This takes the burden off willpower and, by making good food choices consistently, allows your brain to heal. The pleasure receptors come back; the brain starts recognizing its leptin; and you start feeling full and energetic.
Finally, plan out some you time. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, and, yes, put down the sneakers and kick back in some comfy slippers.
About the Author
Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D., is an adjunct associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester and an expert in the psychology of eating. She is president of the Institute for Sustainable Weight Loss and CEO of Bright Line Eating Solutions, a company dedicated to sharing the psychology and neuroscience of sustainable weight loss and helping people live happy, thin and free. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.