Healthy Living

The Mental Health Aspects of Weight Loss

There’s no denying that weight loss is important to millions of people all over the world. For health reasons alone, there is plenty of value in losing weight, but the way that weight affects mental health is equally as important:

  • Weight reduces self-confidence, which is an important tool for controlling anxiety.
  • Unhealthy eating can cause stress and anxiety on your mind and body.
  • Weight related inactivity (ie, not exercising because of weight issues) also leads to stress.

The body affects the mind in numerous ways, and the more your body is stressed by weight, the more your mind is affected by stress.

Similarly, weight is often controlled by stress as well. Stress itself can lead to weight gain as a result of excess cortisol. Stress can also lead to excess eating and inactivity – both of which cause excess weight gain. It’s not uncommon to find that weight gain comes after stress, not the other way around, and a large number of people depend on food to help them overcome their stresses.

It’s clear that there are strong relationships between mental health and weight loss, which is why you need to control both in order to successfully lose weight. Consider the tips below to ensure that you successfully continue any weight loss strategy.

5 Tips for Controlling Your Mental Health for Weight Loss

  • Count Inches, Not Weight – The key is not just controlling your weight or your mental health. The key is controlling your motivation (which is affected by both your weight and mental health). Before you even begin, you need to control any chance of depression based on your weight. To do that, you need to count inches, not weight itself. Weight doesn’t change as quickly as inches do, and because of the muscle you’ll gain, weight itself may not be lost as quickly as size will.
  • Don’t Weigh for as Long as Possible – Some weighing is inevitable, since weight itself is important to people. But you also need to avoid weighing yourself right away. Weight fluctuates day to day, even while you’re losing weight. Avoid weighing yourself for a month, so that you don’t see a weight you’re unhappy with and let it stop you from feeling motivated.
  • Find a Partner – When you’re finding that your stress is causing you to make mistakes, a partner can be a big help. Partners make you feel accountable to someone, and will ensure that you have fewer slips. They’ll also make exercising more fun, and having fun will keep the act of exercising more stress free.
  • Control Stress – The big one, of course, is controlling stress. There are thousands of potential stress reduction strategies that you can try. First, however, you need to find out how to control stress eating. To do that, find a healthy replacement strategy. Journaling can be immensely beneficial. So can jogging every time you feel stress (jogging may be as effective as anxiety medications). Replacing stress eating as your coping tool is incredibly important.
  • Have Fun – Finally, don’t let your weight loss be the only thing you’re doing to enjoy your life. It’s not about spending all that time at the gym. You should also be spending time with friends, going out, watching comedies on TV – anything that controls your stress and improves your feeling of wellbeing is important for controlling stress, and if you make them active activities (such as hiking), you’ll lose weight as well.

Weight loss is not and cannot be something that you expect to happen quickly. Controlling your stress and anxiety and focusing on ways to not let your stress prevent you from staying motivated are incredibly important. Spend time with your friends, and always consider seeking help if your anxiety and stress feel out of control.

About the Author: Ryan Rivera experienced serious health problems as a result of how he reacted to his stress. He writes about anxiety at


Karla Urwitz
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