The physical part is easy. It’s the mental and emotional part that’s difficult.

“If I could just lose this weight, I would feel better about myself.”

I used to think that, but from experience I know that it’s not true. We didn’t get to our unhealthiest point by thinking positive thoughts or practicing healthier habits. We stopped making ourselves the priority, started using comfort, convenient foods to deal with life and possibly did some self-loathing. So, what makes us think the “perfect body” or a fabulous physique will solve years of issues?

I read somewhere that obesity is not the problem— it’s a symptom. That statement makes so much sense. While food is technically fuel for the body to move and grow, it has become many other things. To some of us, food is a reward for a hard week at work or for dealing with life’s obstacles. Many of us see comfort in food and we eat when we are stressed or sad. It’s used as a tool to cope with life. For some, food can even become an addiction where its effects are much like those of a drug.

There are any number of reasons why we may get so far off track. Many of us have unresolved issues in our past. Those issues have caused an unhealthy relationship with food. Whether those problems stemmed from abuse, bullying, a parent’s unintended but harsh words or even a lack of education of healthy habits, without addressing these, it will be very difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Why Fixing Your Body First Doesn’t Work

While it is possible to reach your goals without solving these inner conflicts, it is likely it will be difficult to stay there. It will be easy to revert to former habits, especially if you believe these efforts need only be temporary. If lifestyle change isn’t addressed, the weight and/or health problems will be back.

When a health transformation is made, you become a different person. It takes time to figure out who you are. The person looking back in the mirror has changed, and you may not recognize her. People may start treating you differently and not always in a positive way. Friends may stop inviting you to activities because you have chosen healthier habits. You may even find people you care about will stop communicating with you. Maybe they are jealous. Or maybe being around you reminds them that they aren’t willing to put in the work.

You may also need time to learn how to work through that perpetual guilt cycle. That cycle where you eat to feel better, then feel guilty because you ate “bad foods.” After some self-loathing, you eat again to feel better and the cycle goes around and around. Self-sabotage is usually involved.

But not all is lost. It IS possible to break free of that cycle. It IS possible to resolve those past issues. It IS possible to instill new healthier habits and become that healthier and happier you. This I also know from experience, because I have done it.

Tips To Change Your Head:

1. Be willing to address the REAL issue. Professional help may be necessary. It is a tool in getting your head (and heart) right.

2. Realize that whatever you do to reach your goal, you will need to do for the rest of your life to maintain (examples: eat better, be active, cut back on alcohol).

3. Track your triggers that cause emotional eating, and find alternatives to solving or getting through those situations.

4. Realize the gimmicks we see are just that. No pill, diet or celebrity-compensated product will undo years of unhealthy habits or negative self-talk.

5. Be OK with spending less time with people who are unsupportive or who contribute to those unhealthy issues. They may love you and want the best for you, but may subconsciously be sabotaging your efforts.

You deserve to lead a healthy and happy life. Heal your head. Heal your heart. Heal your body.