How to Deal with Burnout During Slow Weight Loss

During my two year weight loss journey, I encountered burnout more than a few times. Burnout, a term typically used in the context of workplace stress, can be described as the lack of motivation or exhaustion that comes from prolonged stress. Weight loss can be stressful. To lose weight, you typically have to change multiple parts of your lifestyle. According to many life change index scales, changing your personal habits falls at a score of 24/100 in terms of life change intensity relative to other major upheavals. Constantly relying on your willpower can be emotionally taxing—especially if you add other personal stresses into the fold. Over time, your motivation can erode due to the long, hard slog of slow weight loss. Here are a few tips that have helped me deal with weight loss burnout:

Preload Your Decisions

The key to avoiding burnout is preserving your willpower. If you preload your eating and exercise habits, you won’t have to rely on your limited reserves of willpower to get you through the day. Meal planning is one way to put your food decisions on auto-pilot. You can also use the Healthy Eating Plate that I highlighted in a previous blog post to guide how you eat. Incorporating exercise as a daily practice, such as walking on your work breaks, also bypasses your need for willpower or motivation. The more you can rely on habits, the less you need to rely on the variability of your moods and emotions. 

Mix It Up!

If you are finding yourself lacking motivation, it might pay to vary your diet or exercise routine. Part of your burnout may be attributable to boredom. We all get tired of the same ole same ole! Try out a new recipe on the weekends. Sign up for dancing lessons. You can also try out a new machine at the gym. If you normally run on the treadmill, try doing treadmill sprints or walking at an incline. When I get in a food rut, I visit my favorite healthy eating food blogs and find something that catches my eye. When you’re on a weight loss journey for the long haul, you need to make things exciting!

Take a Break and Reexamine Your Methods or Circumstances

If all else fails, you should probably take a short break from weight loss. If you need to lose a significant amount of weight, taking a break is a must. There are many schools of thought on this subject, but I think eating at maintenance for one to four weeks is a good place to start. Weight maintenance is a skill we all have to master after weight loss. Taking a break from caloric deficit can help you practice maintenance as you take a break from the seemingly endless slog. While you’re in maintenance, you should take this opportunity to take a good, hard look at your methods and circumstances. Is your calorie deficit too aggressive? Is your exercise regimen too demanding? Are you struggling with other mental health issues? Sometimes these struggles creep up on us. Please take the time to reflect and take care of yourself along the way.

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Remember, be kind to yourself and keep moving forward.

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