Expert Opinion: I’ll Tell You Why You’re Not Losing Weight



What’s the one thing that’s preventing you from losing weight? It’s not carbs, and it’s not fat. It’s not even a failure to elevate your heart rate through exercise.

The one thing that consistently undermines your attempt to control your weight is … you.

More specifically, it’s your feelings of being overwhelmed.

When we are organized and calm, we plan our workouts, log our miles, and stock our fridges with healthy and delicious food. When our stress level is low, we find it easy to make our health a priority.

But when we feel overwhelmed, we go into crisis-mode. Rather than sticking to our plan to eat well and exercise, we stop making ourselves a priority. We order extra cheese pizza on the way home from work. We stay up late and then skip the 6 a.m. Flywheel class. When we are overwhelmed, we think that we don’t have the “luxury” of caring for our own health. But what happens? Not only do we feel stressed, we also experience self-loathing because we’re not taking care of our health.

Okay, so you’re thinking, “That’s great, Lauren, but how do I reduce the stress in my life?”

My advice for lowering your stress level is to adhere to this mantra: Put yourself first.

I already hear your reactions:

• “But I have kids.”
• “That’s so selfish.”
• “I put my partner first.”
• “Lauren, that’s un-(insert religion here).”

I hear you, but I still maintain my stance. The reality is that you are the only person who can make your health a priority. Only you can maintain your sanity, your cholesterol level, and your low stress level. If you put others’ needs before your own, you will become unhealthy. It’s like the flight attendants instruct before the plane takes off: You must put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others to put on their.

For me, “put yourself first” means that I will always workout at 6 a.m. By taking care of my own needs before addressing others’ needs, I know that I will start the day in a happy and relaxed mood. I’ve been a mother for long enough now to know that chaos is the norm with kids. If I planned to exercise after work, I would be bombarded with requests for a signature on homework or a need to drive back to school because the textbook is still in the locker. By exercising before my kids have even woken up, I am better able to devote my time and energy to my kids during the day.

If you want to be successful at losing weight, you need to make a shift in your thinking. It’s time to invest more energy and time into making yourself happy and strong.


Lauren Napolitano, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist on staff at Bryn Mawr Hospital and in private practice in Bryn Mawr, PA.  To learn more about her practice, go here.