Emotional weight gain can have a number of aspects that you may not have thought of. Most people think about it in terms of emotional eating. However, there are many ways in which our emotions influence our weight, our body, and our health. In this article I want to talk about some of the ways an emotional weight gain may come about and give you some tips as to how to avoid it.
One of the ways in which bad emotions can lead to weight gain is through emotional lethargy. This means that your emotions are making you less active, less inclined to exercise and more tired.
You can call this depression, sadness, or anything you want. I’m not here to try to diagnose anyone. I’m just showing you how a negative emotional state may lead to weight gain.
We’ve all been there: we feel sad or lonely and we just want to lie on the couch and do nothing. Maybe watch TV without really paying attention to it, but other than that, nothing. You just don’t want or don’t see the point in exercising at all. Naturally, this means that you will burn up less calories and begin to lose muscle mass which will lower your metabolism. This will make it much harder to lose weight and easier to gain it.
How can you overcome this emotional lethargy and still exercise regularly? Here are some ideas:
1. Have a workout schedule – If your workouts are set as part of your regular schedule, they will become a habit. This will make them a more solid part of your routine and there will be less of a chance of you missing any of them.
2. Exercise in the morning – I find that I am the most energized and positive early in the morning. The day didn’t have a chance to get me down yet. Even if you’re in a bad emotional state these days, the morning will be the best time for you to workout. You will get the exercise you need out of the early in the day.
3. Train with a friend – A workout buddy will help you overcome any emotional lethargy you may feel and “force” you to exercise. Pick the sort of buddy who won’t let you off easily and you may find yourself lifting weights in the gym even on days when you simply don’t feel like it.
In previous posts I talked about how lack of sleep increases appetite and the connection between sleep and weight loss. In those posts I talked about how research has shown that lack of sleep is detrimental for fat loss due to a number of reasons. It is a clear relationship that can have a big effect on your results.
An increase in stress, worry, or other negative emotions can cause insomnia and low quality sleep. This is an indirect way in which you may experience emotional weight gain.
So, what can you do?
You need to try to calm yourself down before bedtime. Do meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, or anything that makes you calm. You can also try one of these tips to help you sleep better.
I saved this one for last because it is the most well known one. However, emotional eating is not just about the quantity of your calories. It’s about your food choices which tend to be high in sugar and fat (as these tend to be more comforting, for the short term, at least). It’s no wonder that some of the most common comfort foods include things like chocolate, pastries, and ice-cream.
Emotional eating is about eating food which gives you a short term comfort but very little nourishment. It is filling yourself with empty calories and developing a highly negative relationship with food. It is about feeding your emotions and not your body. It’s about lack of control over food.
What you can do about it are two things:
1. For the long term, you need to find a solution to your emotional issues. Is it too much stress, loneliness, despair or worries about the future? Whatever it may be, you can take steps to alleviate your emotional pain and to start leading a happier life.
2. For a quick solution, you can exercise a mindful pause in which you think about your hunger and try to see whether it’s real hunger or an emotional one. A 30-60 seconds pause is all you need. It will break the craving and let you think clearly.
A Firm Connection
There’s a firm connection between your mind and your body. You can’t separate the two. It goes way beyond emotional weight gain. It influences everything you do. I will keep posting more about this connection and how you can improve your health, your mindset, and your body together.