5 Reasons Weight Loss Is So Damn Hard To Achieve

No, it has nothing to do with willpower or laziness

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

Sad, but true that we live in a world, where beautiful means skinny and skinny means beautiful — without considering health, mental health, fitness, strength, happiness or any other factors that should define beauty.

Also sad, and also true that this is nothing new. The concept that beauty means good was also present in ancient times. The ancient Greek term kalokagathia, derived from kalos kagathos, refers to beauty being good, noble and virtuous — with a simplified translation, it means what is beautiful is good. Evolutionarily, beauty and the supposed positives that beauty, symmetry and the right proportions meant suggested health, fertility and thus a better chance to healthy offsprings and survival.

What is also sad is while we live a lot longer and in the developed world we have easy access to personal hygiene, medical services and basic education to take care of our bodies — i.e. to preserve it in its best functioning, healthy state for long decades, we also have easy access to hyper-palatable food, a stressful and accelerated environment coupled with sedentary lifestyles and a huge amount of external pressure to be and look our best no matter the costs.

Obesity is widespread and there are countless solutions, methods and magic pills for fat loss. On top of this, all of us — without exception — knows the weight loss method that works, which is to eat less and move more. Even if this sounds oversimplified, this is the core of all weight loss success, regardless of age, physical state, medical conditions or hormonal circumstances.

And still, it’s so damn hard that people — who are otherwise persistent and disciplined — give up and start again only to give up yet once again. It is a neverending struggle for some, consuming decades of one’s life, causing eternal frustration and depression.

I know it was for me — but not really because of the weight loss itself, but because I made it more difficult for myself than it should have been.

This past year I lost a lot of weight, and I also realized how wrong I was about most of it. I collected a few reasons why it might be so damn hard — and how to overcome the difficulties.

You expect results too soon

Whether you need to lose 5 pounds or 50 (or more), you need to embrace the journey and you need to expect it to be a long one. We live in a world of instant gratification and seemingly overnight success stories — and with weight loss, it just simply doesn’t work.

No matter how far you are from your ideal or desired weight, I would suggest to give yourself at least 12 months to achieve it. Because weight loss and weight management is not really about losing the pounds but about building habits that will change your whole life.

If you have a lot to lose, a few pounds won’t make a huge difference — at least not for the outside world, not in terms of radical changes in your habits, lifestyle, body composition or clothes size. You need to settle in for months of changed habits before you can really see the visual results. And it means that a great part of this journey will happen internally — without external validation.

A year might sound a bit long, but think about it, the average life expectancy is 70+ years, maybe even 80 or 90 these days. This means that 1 year is less than 1% of your whole life. Giving you 1% of your time shouldn’t sound too much — considering how many benefits you could get from losing weight, from the health benefits through mental health improvement to overall confidence and feeling accomplished. You have time to lose weight, so give yourself enough time without buying into quick fixes, shortcuts and magic pills.

You don’t know that you can’t fail, only give up

When you think about weight loss and weight management as a lifelong journey, there is no failure. Once you start to build better habits the worst thing that can happen is that your weight stagnates or temporarily goes up. The only way you can ruin the progress is by giving up.

Overeating during birthdays and holidays are not permanent failure, they are just a stop from where you can easily bounce back. Acknowledging that you are human and sometimes you need comfort food, hyper-palatable meals and social meals is just as much part of the journey as realizing that moving is good for you.

For this reason, I hate the term “cheat meal” because it perpetuates the idea that you should be always eating in a restrictive way to get results. The main point is to keep a good balance between food that helps you lose weight and food that doesn’t. Having said that, it’s not one cheeseburger or pizza that will ruin the whole diet, it’s the idea that once you cheated it’s already ruined and you feel inclined to overeat instead of just getting back on track.

You must have heard the diet related metaphor of having one flat tire and slashing the other three because of the one that is screwed. It describes the real problem with diet failures. If you start to believe that failure is not an option and you can only fail if you don’t get back on track and give it up, it becomes easier to accept that you don’t have to be perfect all the time. Thus, it becomes sustainable in the long run too.

You are doing it for the wrong reasons

I know a thing or two about wrong reasons, I’ve been there. I wanted to become thinner to please my partner — who was putting me down because of my weight; I wanted to get skinny to find a partner to love and appreciate my body — without loving or appreciating myself in general, mind, body and soul; I wanted to prove something to the wrong people — and frankly, no one even cared.

This time, I did it for myself. I did it to become healthier, to become fitter, to feel better in my skin — without any external validation. I lost the weight during the pandemic social isolation, so up to this point, I haven’t even met 90% of the people I used to be around. I did it to fix my unhealthy approach to food and dieting. I did it to prove myself that I can do it — once I put my mind to it.

Choose your reasons wisely. Choose yourself. Forget the optics and dig deep into what should be your ‘why’. Similarly to business success, if you like what you do, you enjoy your work and you deliver something valuable, money will be a byproduct. In weight loss, if you enjoy creating new habits, if you like yourself better around food, if you can make better fitness and nutrition choices daily, a changing body composition (weight loss, muscle gain, strength etc) will follow.

Your environment doesn’t foster your success

I always hated to go to gyms and be around fit people — because I felt so inferior and ashamed that the potential benefits were washed away by my inhibitions. Now, after a year of consistently showing up, being surrounded by fitness enthusiast, athletes, runners in my daily life, I am looking at them differently and I feel different about myself.

You should surround yourself with people who fit your future, not your past.

These days the people I spend most of my time are people who have already established their good habits — related to movement and nutrition. They are naturally and automatically get up and move, make good food choices and their habits are inspiring me too.

To be very honest, when forming habits, it is a lot easier to spend people with people who have already formed those habits and they come naturally to them. Because the habits you want to build are already established and they are not even questioned. It’s never a question if we should train, run or eat relatively healthily — it’s a given. The questions are different, and always about specifying details, never questioning the status quo of good choices.

Find people who fit your future life and let them help you introduce to their normal — trust me, you will have it a lot easier.

You think you can walk someone else’s path

We are sold on easy solutions, shortcuts and magic. We are buying into success stories — of others. Success stories are great, but the problem with them is

a. they are always written in retrospect, focusing on the achievement and the positives (not really giving a guidance about how to overcome the daily difficulties)

b. they are someone else’s story.

And you probably already know this, but what works for some, might not work for others. We are unique in our conditions, possibilities, mindsets. I find it very toxic to label people as endomorphs and ectomorphs, claiming that we have different metabolic types, saying that our struggles are duet to hormonal imbalances — and then trying to sell some course, diet plan, coaching etc to them.

There are differences, there are different metabolisms, there are hormonal problems that can hinder weight loss, but creating a problem so that they can sell a pricey answer to them seems to be bullshit to me.

I believe in calorie deficit and movement. I believe in persistence and patience. I believe in custom support from a specialist. I believe that you need to figure out what works for you. And even if someone has amazing results with solution X it’s no guarantee that you will have the same outcome. If you see before and after pictures, it can be inspiring, but please add at least 6 months on top of the claimed timeframe.

Find your own path and walk it. Find your own choices and stick to them. Figure out what stops you from losing weight and then find a way to get rid of that habit.

Weight loss is difficult, and you shouldn’t believe if someone tells you it is easy. It is not easy, because change never is. Forming new habits is a difficult terrain, sticking to them in the long run has long term benefits and not immediate results. It is worth it and it pays off, and eventually, when you already formed new habits it won’t be difficult anymore. But initially, it’s not easy, it’s just simple.

  1. Don’t expect quick results — in fact, expect slow results.
  2. Be okay with setbacks but don’t ever give up.
  3. Do it for the right reasons!
  4. Look for people who can support your journey with their already established habits.
  5. Walk your own path and learn as you go.

Want some more? Let’s stay in touch!

Writer. Dreamer. Hopeless romantic. Newsletter: zita.substack.com Email me: zitafontaine (at) gmail

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