• Mohammad A. Emran, MD

How Your Emotions Kill Your Weight Loss Efforts

Everybody goes through those periods of emotions related to getting healthy or losing weight. You’ve probably been there before, you may even be feeling it now, guilt and maybe you’re feeling a little bit sadness, a little hopelessness related to, ‘oh my god, this is such a daunting task, this is such a big deal’. So, let’s be honest. Today, we’re going to talk about three ways our emotions interfere with us getting healthy.

So, why is this important? What’s going on here? Our emotions control so many things in us; about how we eat, our memory, our activity, our mood, how we react to stress, all those things are related to how we feel – our emotions. So, it’s important to understand a few things about emotions in order to understand what’s going on in your head and what can you do about it.

Number one, they’re not hardwired. We used to think that everybody had this limited group of emotions and that everything was just kind of a mix of a couple of emotions or other, or that we were born with these emotions somehow and that everybody had these emotions. We’ve got lots of emotions, in fact, in certain countries, they’ve got words to describe emotions that we don’t even think about in the United States. So, around the world, people feel things more profoundly in certain areas and in others because they’ve developed that feeling. For instance, an example that that I would give would be the fact that in France they use the term ‘bon appetit’, we don’t have an English equivalent in that to the point that we use ‘bon appetit’. Because that that describes the joy coming with eating, that’s an emotion, that’s a sensation. We don’t have that equivalent here, so we’ve adopted language from somewhere else. Alright, so first of all, emotions are not hardwired. There was a great study out of Harvard that looked at this specific point and they found that emotions aren’t hardwired, we actually learn emotions or what we perceive emotions, certain reactions in the body are natural and those are hardwired in; things like the fight-or-flight, the heart rate increasing, your blood pressure going up, the butterflies in the stomach. But why do some people fight with that sensation and why do some people flee with that sensation?

And that comes to the second point – different people get different experiences from the same experience. Okay? That’s why one person can ride a roller coaster and be absolutely terrified and the person next to them can be screaming in glee – two different reactions to the same sensation. So, our emotions are subjective. Our emotions depend on our perception of how we’re supposed to react in that situation. So, our emotions are not hardwired and they’re subjective.

So, the third point is that when you have a sensation or an emotion, you can change that emotion by changing the way you react to it. What do I mean? So, if you’re upset and you’re nervous about something and you’re tightened up, your shoulders are scrunched over, your head’s bent down and your brows furrowed and you’re breathing shallowly through your mouth, you can change that. Throw your shoulders back, lift your head up, take some deep breaths through your nose and let them out through your mouth, just a few breaths like that, relax your brow, smile, think about something that makes you happy. You can suddenly take that sensation of stress and turn it into something positive and realize, “wait, this is a challenge, this isn’t a threat to my life, so I can let go of that and I can perceive it as exactly what it is, which is a challenge rather than something that’s gonna kill me”. So, not hardwired, we have different sensations even with the same experience and we can change our reaction, we can change the emotion associated with a certain sensation.

Now, the interesting thing is emotion is also linked to nutrition. So, our emotion makes us eat certain ways because certain foods make us feel better and activate certain brain chemicals that activate the happy centers of our brain and the way we eat actually affects our emotions. So, if we eat things that are unhealthy, yeah, we might get some happy chemicals temporarily but when we come off those, it’s just like coming off a high, we drop even lower than we were before and now, we need more of that bad food. So, we need to be feeding our brain with things that activate the happy brain chemicals all the time rather than just periodically.

So, just as a thing that you need to take away from this, you’re not to blame. Everybody has emotions and everybody’s been taught or trained or experienced things that’s led them to the emotions that they experience right now with certain situations. You’re not to blame for that but you are responsible for making a change so that things get better in the future. So, when you feel guilt about not taking action on your health, you can change that by saying, “oh, you know, I don’t like this feeling. I’m gonna do one thing this week that makes me a little bit healthier and when I get that one thing, okay great, now I’ve done a little bit better. Oh, this is working. I’m gonna do two things now. Now, I’m gonna do three things and I add one more every week until you get to the point where you are feeling so much better and you’re being so much more successful that those bad feelings go away.

Hope you liked that tip. Please like it, share it and go to to get a copy of my book for more tips like that.

Thanks a lot. I’ll see you at the next video.

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