The International Food Information Council found that 34% of adults in the United States are actively trying to lose weight. Some people might want to lose weight for health-related reasons or to look and feel better. Other times, losing weight becomes about combating obesity-related conditions, many of which can lead to preventable, premature death.
Because of the sometimes toxic nature of the weight loss industry — one that can be harmful to people’s mental and physical health — many often have hesitations about starting a wellness challenge. After all, from fad diets to body-shaming and unrealistic beauty standards perpetuated by the media, negative self-images and disordered eating behaviors are easy for anyone to adopt.
Prioritizing your mental health when embarking on a weight loss journey is crucial. When you make small, sustainable changes to your lifestyle instead of quick fixes, you can achieve healthy and balanced weight loss.
Regardless of your reasoning, there are several wellness challenges out there that can help you get started.
The Relationship Between Physical Health and Mental Wellness
There’s a correlation between mental and physical health. One study found that chronic stress and negative emotions can have a detrimental effect on your immune system, putting you at an increased risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Sometimes, stress may even cause depression and the expression of schizophrenia.
Why Weight Loss Efforts Specifically Benefit From Social Wellness Practices
People who are trying to lose weight typically find more success and satisfaction in a group setting. According to CBS News, a Weight Watchers group “was 8 times more likely to drop 5% of their body weight and 8.8 times more likely to lose 10% than the people who were trying to lose weight on their own.”
Group weight loss can be especially beneficial for certain groups of people. This includes those who have undergone procedures like liposuction, weight loss, and other plastic surgeries and have to keep the weight off.
With group weight loss, sharing goals and having a support system in place means better results. Observing others is motivational and gives you more access to knowledge and resources you might not have been aware of if you tried losing weight on your own.
Yet another benefit of working within a group to lose weight is the reduced stigma and shame you might feel if you were going at it alone. Being part of a group can help emphasize the focus of the goal at hand — losing weight.
Wellness Practices That Can Aid Weight Loss
Wellness practices aren’t just about becoming more limber or gaining better control over your breath. Many exercises can translate into weight loss, too. From intuitive eating to daily mindfulness, hydration challenges, and intentional movement, there are several wellness practices you can add to your routine that will aid in your weight loss journey.
Intuitive or mindful eating involves paying attention to your food and your body’s hunger and fullness signals. This can decrease the amount you eat in addition to helping you enjoy what you eat more and make healthier food choices.
Mindful eating starts with slowing down and enjoying your meals free of distractions. Engage all of your senses when you eat and tune in to your body, being mindful of cues that say you’re full. Eat until you feel like you’ve had enough. Not overly full and not enough where you still feel like you’re hungry. The Center for Mindful Eating has more to offer in the way of mindful eating resources.
Daily mindfulness can aid in weight loss by helping you become more aware of yourself. This includes your thoughts, emotions, and the way you behave with food. Implementing daily mindfulness can make you more aware of your hunger, reduce emotional eating and cravings, and improve your eating habits.
To get started, Mindful suggests taking a few mindful breaths throughout the day to reduce stress and be present in the moment. Mindful walks can also help you be more present, as can mindful listening, appreciation, and of course, eating.
Staying hydrated can help regulate your appetite and boost your metabolism, assisting in weight loss by proxy. A hydration challenge inspires you to drink more water, especially if you already struggle to get enough ounces in during the day.
Challenging yourself to drink more water and stay hydrated is easy. Try making a habit of drinking water before meals. Doing so can help you feel fuller faster and keep you hydrated. If you love soda or other sugary drinks, challenge yourself to replace these beverages with water or another calorie-free option. Try flavoring water with fruit such as lemon or cucumber. No matter what hydration goal you set for yourself, creating a challenge is a great way to keep yourself motivated.
Frontiers in Psychology describes intentional movement as any form of physical activity done with a purpose, intention, and awareness. Think of exercises like yoga, Pilates, strength training, or even walking, all of which can be classified as intentional movement.
Intentional movement can burn calories and build muscle, ultimately helping you achieve weight loss goals. Additionally, intentional movement reduces stress levels, increases your energy, and boosts confidence.
Where To Find Wellness Challenges and Programs
There are many programs, websites, and resources available to kick-start your journey. Here are a few options, including both free and paid services and resources:
- MyFitnessPal: A free website and app that helps users track their diet and exercise.
- Fitbit: A fitness tracker will track your daily activity levels, including steps, distance traveled, and calories burned, as well as features for tracking sleep and nutrition.
- Beachbody On Demand: This paid subscription service provides access to a range of fitness programs including popular workouts like P90X and Insanity.
- Yoga With Adriene: This free YouTube channel provides a range of yoga classes from beginner to advanced levels.
- Whole30: This 30-day program focuses on whole foods and eliminates processed foods, sugar, and alcohol. It includes a free guide and support community, as well as paid resources like cookbooks and meal plans.
- Noom: This paid weight loss program uses a behavior-change approach to help users achieve their goals and includes features like coaching, daily lessons, and a food diary.
- 7 Minute Workout: This is a free app that provides quick, high-intensity workouts that can be done anywhere, without any equipment.
- Headspace: This is a paid app that provides guided meditation and mindfulness exercises, including features for stress reduction, sleep improvement, and overall well-being.
Before starting any diet or exercise, it’s important to consult with your doctor.