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Paige Waehner

Exercise and Weight Loss Lesson of the Week: Taking the Pressure Off

By September 13, 2012

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How much pressure do you feel to lose weight or to maintain your current weight? If you're like most of us, you feel it constantly. Enter any gas station, grocery store or market and you'll probably see a long row of fitness magazines with half-naked, perfectly formed, fat-less men and women reminding you of what you're 'supposed' to look like - if you could just get yourself together.

You feel it when you pass a jogger on the way to work and are reminded of the workout you didn't do. You feel it when you're eating out and wonder what people will think if you (gasp) order your salad with dressing.

The pressure seems to come from everywhere, both in the real world and in our own heads and that pressure can often lead to:

  • Feeling like you're in jail - The words that accompany pressure are usually words like 'can't' and 'have to' and 'should' - all words that make us feel trapped. You can't have that hamburger, you have to do your workout, you should be losing weight. At some point, you may feel like you don't have any choices left, which only makes the need to escape that narrow existence too great to withstand.
  • Trying too hard - So, what happens when you feel all this pressure to be perfect, to lose weight? Some of us become controlling...so controlling that every bite, every movement, every little thing we do has to be monitored. The problem is, the more you try to be perfect, the more out of control you feel.

So, how can you take the pressure off? There isn't a cut and dried answer, but what usually helps is doing the one thing that seems to make the least sense: Giving up on weight loss. That doesn't mean you stop trying to lose weight, but it does mean stopping and refocusing on the things that matter - How you feel, how much you value yourself and your health and how well you're taking care of yourself. When you focus on those things, you end up doing all the things that lead to weight loss: You eat good foods, you move more and you feel good...all without all that pressure weighing you down.

What do you think? Do you put too much pressure on yourself to lose or maintain weight? Does society put too much pressure on us? What does that pressure do to you and how do you deal with? Leave a comment and tell us about your experiences with weight loss and pressure.

September 13, 2012 at 11:33 am
(1) scout09 says:

Honestly, I don’t think there is enough societal pressure. Compare and contrast television, movies and magazines from the 70′s or 80′s with those from today and you will notice how much larger the “average” person is. It seems that the acceptable “average” is now 15-30 pounds heavier than only 30 or 40 years ago. It is now the norm to have overweight people on television. John Candy doesn’t even seem that heavy anymore compared with the larger people in the media today. A women’s size 6 of today is a women’s size 12 of the 50′s and 60′s. I think there is a culture of blindedness to the weight problems of our society. Most people are overweight and a lot of people fall into one of the 3 obesity categories. Even our language has incorporated words such as “muffin top” and “cankles”, words that were not, to my knowledge, arround even 25 years ago.

September 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm
(2) Pauline says:

I have been on a diet my whole life. I always worry what I put in my mouth and how much. I’ve made it part of my life that I work out 6X’s a week an hour a day including, cardio, strength training, core work outs and once a twice a week yoga. No matter what I do I always feel fat. I always feel i need to tighten and tone more, I worry about losing muscle mass. Most of all I worry about gaining weight. When I do gain weight it wrecks my day until it’s gone. Has media had an impact on my body image? ABSOLUTELY, and I don’t think it is positive. I am in my late 50′s and am still striving for the perfect body. Some of us just take it way too much to heart and it is an extreme to the other side of healthy. Thank you for even saying, relax! Now if only I can convince myself to do so.

September 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm
(3) Starla says:

I went through a time when I was very over weight. I lost 235pds. It always seem easier when your young but now that I am in my 40′s, I find it is really hard to keep it off. I don’t think the pressure comes from tv and ads as much as it does from girlfriends and boyfriends. I am a size 14 and I feel alright with my body over all. I am out going and i find it is not that hard to deal with my size. You don’t like it don’t look. More people should except themselves and just work on that, If you can come to terms with who you are then the other will fall into place. I work on my health every day. I work out a couple of times a week and i eat right most of the time. lol. I hope people will learn to like themselves and stop worrying about how others look at them or what the t.v. or ads tell us.

September 17, 2012 at 10:13 pm
(4) pattykate says:

I have been on and off “diets” since my 20′s.. I am 63 and still “fat”… I know this because at 5’5″ , 168 lbs… I can not look like the women in their 20′s, 30′s and 40′s and/or even 50′s. I think it is sad that we put so much stress on ourselves about weight…

When I do eat steak or something I really like I feel so guilty. Maybe no one will notice if we are overweight when we have died and are on display… maybe they will say “wasn’t she a good person” “didn’t she love her friends” NOT “she looked awful in that two piece last summer” :-) Life is short.. worry less.

September 18, 2012 at 11:08 am
(5) Mike M. says:

For me weight loss is a secondary benefit of exercise. I got active 16 years ago after having open heart surgery. I am 73 years old and do cardio workout 3 days per week and strength training on 3 alternate days.
I have outlived my father and his 7 brothers.

September 18, 2012 at 11:50 am
(6) hischild says:

Good for you Mike! I am only 35, but every since i was in middle school i got on this health quest. Almost said health “kick” but that would imply it was short lived. Since 7th grade i have sought after healthy mindset. I dont think i ever “felt” fat as a teen, but i knew i was bigger than all my friends. I weighed 145 as long as i can remember, from high school on. Besides 2 pregnancies and a couple short term weight gains, i have maintained 145 for 16/17yrs. But it has always been my desire to weigh in the 130s. I guess as a gift or challenge to myself just to accomplish a goal;much like a bucket list. This past year i have done that, averaging at 134. The thing about reaching any goal, you ask yourself what now. Well now i am learning to exercise consistantly, which has been a major “do i have to and i dont wanna” in my vocab. But as i am not in my 20s and cutting back a little here and there does not drop weight as easy, therefore ti must not be lazy bc i like my sweets. I make them from the healthiest ingredients i can, but it doesnt eliminate their calories. Sadly. Anyway, i know there is alot of pressure out there, but i think what some may call self pressure i call drive. And i have a stubbornness much like a built in drill sargent. I give myself time to rest and take breaks as much mentally as i do physically. I love this site bc the encouragement not to be so hard on yourself and work out for the right resons. It has been what helped me make up my mind to work out and even if i dont do these workouts everyday, i AM doing ‘something’ to keep it a ‘habit’ til it becomes “i do it bc i love it”. So much thanks to Paige!!!! Keep it up.

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