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Stress you create causes chemical imbalances in your neurotransmitter and hormones which detracts from practicing mindfulness. Failure to be mindful of our stress, thoughts and emotions is the root cause of why all us humans programmatically behave in the same way that makes us fail to stay on track every time we’ve tried. Not your inability to get things done. 

Sticking to a fitness and healthy diet routine is purely psychological and there is a science behind this. We may not be aware, but we all have automatic streams of negative thought patterns, behaviors, and actions that act against us every moment of our day toward our weight loss goals. 

Your Habit of Stressful thoughts and Anxiety

Allowing time anxiety and stress to consume you and your thoughts with the “work work work” and “go go go” mentality is where the root culprit begins. It breaks down your mental willpower and reduction of  the useful neurotransmitters that help you with motivation. We only have so much mental energy every day to focus on the most important things of our day.

Your brain is a smart computer that has a program limbically instilled to keep you alive so it will tell your body to do everything it possibly can do to eliminate that stress and make it GTFO (get the f*** out) of your system and make you stop feeling horrible. That’s when and why it’s so easy to turn to the most dopamine and serotonin stimulating thing – FOOD. HIGH sugary, fatty, and fast food. These are one of the best drugs available to relieve our stress.

Mental Health Decline

If chronic stress isn’t already affecting your sleep, it’s affecting your mental health. Your mood determines what you do in a specific moment. You fail to be honest and really ask yourself – In this specific moment, am I feeling shitty? What am I going to do about it to not feel shitty? Everything you think about has to do with the next thing that is stressing you and you may lose the joy in the things you do.

If you feel shitty and use your mental energy on all the things that worry you through the day – how will you think it’s possible to put energy towards making the right choice in the present when you’re already vulnerable? You won’t have the willpower to make logical choices because you already spent it already on other unhelpful thoughts that don’t serve you. You forget to prioritize proper sleep, food and self love for being the deserving human that has a chance to live and feel good.

Not Sleeping Enough

Sleep really is the most important activity you can perform to lose weight because this is the time your brain and body can biologically repair and heal from daily stressors you put it through. 

Concerning  work, it’s simple why you can’t sleep. Can you guess? You’re psychologically stressed.  You’re worried about deliverables to finish or may just secretly be hating the work you do. You don’t recover from sleep deprivation, your hormones become or remain out of whack and the following processes occur internally. 

Specifically, all the neurotransmitters and hormones responsible for your mental motivation for weight loss go to shit.  Lack of sleep causes cortisol (hormone that tells your body you’re under attack), insulin (hormone that tells you to store fat), and ghrelin (hormone that tells you to eat) to increase.  And all the hormones that help you lose weight decrease: HGH(hormone that rebuilds your body) and leptin (hormone that tells you to stop eating). Not sleeping alters your serotonin(neurotransmitter that balances mood, appetite, and  social behavior) and dopamine(neurotransmitter that plays a role in reward-motivated behavior, etc. ) levels affecting your mood and increasing probability of negative thought patterns. In other words,  getting enough sleep is the most effective tool to building your mental willpower to do the things you want to do.

A vicious cycle occurs… you may or may not sleep, remain stressed, and start or continue eating shitty. Repeat.

Eating Too Much Fast and Processed Food

When we are stressed and we are low on dopamine. Any moment you see food, you’re hungry as hell and your brain will tell you to eat more than you need. Unfortunately, the highest fat, sugar or both types of foods are so accessible and so little effort to find that somehow it ends up in our mouths. The higher and stronger the reward and the more return you get back from such a small amount of effort, the more motivated and susceptible you are to keep this activity going. The wrong foods become an addiction (if you’re not already addicted) and that pleasure seeking feeling is “always on” where you cannot stop thinking about that instant gratification.  

Your mind and body are trained that food is high reward for your plain existence. Your mind and body thank you because you just ate something that stimulates your brain’s reward system and makes that stress go away. 

There’s a truth to why these are called “comfort foods”. These foods TEMPORARILY alter our brain chemistry and psychologically gives us hits of dopamine.

Once you are triggered from stressful event or a whole day of stressful tiny pulses the automatic impulse is to crave and go straight to eating sweets and you can’t stop eating them. Food instantly gives us hits of dopamine makes you feel good. Carbs, high fat, and sugary foods also make you hungrier not satiated. These foods completely resolve that stressful anxiety you feel from work or life. 

Not only that, your insulin levels increase even more after not getting enough sleep which already increases insulin. Insulin is the fat-storing hormone. If I could inject insulin into you right now and all the time, you would be more likely to store your food as fat than use it as energy. 

If you really think about it, it’s this consistent repeated process of stress thinking, declining mental energy, and shitty food going on over weeks and weeks that doesn’t help you lose the weight. People who maintain their weight eat with intention and logic rather than reaction.

Breaking the Habit

The way to break the habit is to look at your current habit. 

This is also conveyed in this beautiful visual derived from Charles Duhigg’s  ‘The Power of Habit’ framework.

The crucial way to lose weight is to break your habits of stressful thoughts, getting sleep, and making room for willpower. Just like any other goal you may have. 

With any addiction or rehab, the only way to stop your habit is to REPLACE what your past addiction with something new that you feel extremely rewarded by. Instead of your usual routine of buying food, start meal prepping your food or seek healthier options. Instead of getting that high fat and sugary meal, replace it with a delicious smoothie that gives you that satisfies that sweet tooth. Make it as EASY as possible with the lowest barrier of entry for you to do these routine and access your rewards.

Doing this CONSISTENTLY over time is what will make you successful. Losing weight takes time. Depending on how much you have to lose it can span from a handful of weeks to several months. It’s about small wins every day and over weeks.

Mastering your mind is the most effective way you can lose weight. Staying COMMITTED, start making CHANGES today. The best way is through practicing new skills of thought, behavior, and action everyday:

    • Keep on being informed and understand the psychology behind why you stress so you can prevent it from occurring over time
    • Flag yourself when you’re noticing you’re automatically responding with a bad habit to a stress trigger
    • Replace your daily routine and remind yourself to be mindful of your actions and decisions
    • Experiment with de-stressing techniques what works best and personally for you and practice it like your religion
    • Get support from your loved ones, family, friends, therapist
    • Practice relaxation, self love and appreciation and reward yourself with healthy bits of nutrition for present and future you
    • Commit to the tips you learn and hold yourself accountable for your daily decisions

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Whether you love or do not love work, you have a responsibility to prioritize your health. To live the best life and do the best work possible with clarity of mind, mastering your health which includes primarily your mental health not just your physical health is the most important thing you can do. Ultimately, making the choice to improve your mental health will determine your physical health and overall result in how happy and satisfied you will feel and be. Would you rather choose to live through daily life feeling suffering, stress, pain, and unhappiness or consciously and intentionally build the mental fitness to feel happiness, satisfaction, and self love that you strive for so you can continue with your life goals?