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Navigating Common Challenges in Weight Loss

Friday 16 February 2024
Weight Loss
5 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. Weight Loss Plateaus

II. Emotional Eating and Food Cravings

III. Maintaining Weight Loss Sustainably

IV. Conclusion

The road to losing weight is rarely a straightforward one. Despite our best intentions, many obstacles can derail our progress or willpower. The key is having realistic expectations, developing sustainable habits, and learning strategies to overcome challenges.

In this article, we'll explore common obstacles you may encounter and provide practical tips to help you work through them.

Weight Loss Plateaus

a woman standing on a scale

As you continue your weight loss journey, you may hit points where the number on the scale stops dropping. This can feel frustrating after seeing steady progress, but weight loss plateaus are normal. Your body naturally wants to maintain a stable weight, so losing weight goes against its instincts. [1]

Initially, the changes you made to diet and exercise caused you to burn more calories than you consumed, resulting in weight loss. But over time, your body adapts. [1] There are a few reasons this can occur:

  • Your calorie needs decrease as you lose weight, so the same diet may now maintain your weight rather than reduce it. Eating the same foods daily also makes your body very efficient at processing them, slowing your metabolism.
  • Your body adjusts to exercises: If you’re doing the same workout, your body will become more efficient at them and burn fewer calories. Additionally, as you lose weight, you will lose muscle mass, which can slow your metabolism. [1]

If you've hit a weight loss plateau, it's essential to establish new goals and focus on developing healthy lifestyle habits. Here are some strategies to help you overcome a plateau:

  • Decrease calorie intake: This may be a good step forward or unrealistic, depending on your current calorie consumption. It's important not to over-restrict calories, as this can lead to muscle breakdown and low energy levels. Instead, find a balance where you can still nourish your body while creating a calorie deficit. In some cases, adding exercise can help maintain muscle mass and metabolic output.
  • Add a new exercise or consider a different workout routine: Shake things up by making your exercise routine more challenging or trying out a new activity that challenges your body differently. This can help increase the calories you burn and break through the plateau.
  • Try new foods and recipes: Introduce variety into your diet by exploring new foods and recipes. This can help prevent your body from becoming too efficient at digesting the same foods. [1]

Emotional Eating and Food Cravings

a sad woman eating ice cream

Emotional eating is something many of us are guilty of. When going through a difficult time, reaching for foods that provide comfort but aren't necessarily healthy for us is common. Though food can temporarily make us feel better, relying on it to cope with emotions can lead to unhealthy habits. The good news is there are ways to break the cycle of emotional eating.

  • Learn to distinguish emotional hunger from physical hunger. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly and is usually focused on foods high in fat, salt, and sugar that provide a temporary mood boost. Real hunger, on the other hand, develops gradually and can be satisfied by any nutritious food.
  • Pay attention to when you tend to overeat. Does it happen when you're stressed, angry, or feeling down? Do you find yourself overeating at certain times of the day? Identifying your emotional eating triggers can help you find ways to manage difficult feelings without food. 
  • Develop healthy coping mechanisms. Take a step back when you reach for snacks during an emotional time. Call a supportive friend, take a walk, or do a relaxing activity. Having go-to strategies helps curb the urge to overeat.
  • Slow down when you’re eating. Emotional eating often leads to mindless eating, causing us to consume more calories than we realize. If you find yourself eating to cope, put your fork down between bites and check in on how you're feeling and how much you've eaten.
  • Satisfy cravings for comfort foods with healthier versions. If ice cream is your go-to, try blending frozen bananas for a creamy, lower-calorie substitute. Roasting chickpeas can give you the crunch of chips without the fat and salt. Getting creative helps you feel comforted without the guilt. [2]

Maintaining Weight Loss Sustainably

a woman measuring her waist with a measuring tape

Losing weight is an incredible achievement, but the journey doesn't end there. After all the hard work and dedication, it's natural to worry about maintaining your weight loss and not undoing all your progress. The good news is that transitioning to weight maintenance doesn't have to be daunting. Following a few key strategies, you can keep the weight off and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

  • Reverse dieting: Rather than abruptly increasing your calorie intake, gradually increase it over time. This allows your body to adjust slowly and prevents shock from a sudden jump in calories. Keep a close eye on your body's response and adjust your calorie intake accordingly. 
  • Continue physical activity: Aim for at least 40 minutes of moderate activity 3 to 4 times a week, such as walking, jogging, biking, or using the stairs when possible. This amounts to 1500 to 2000 calories per week, which is ideal for maintaining weight loss.
  • Track your food and macros a little longer. This will help you learn how to incorporate your favorite foods in a balanced way. The goal is to track only for a while, just long enough to find your new normal.
  • Use the 80/20 rule: Eat nutritious and whole foods 80% of the time and allow treats 20% of the time. This flexible approach prevents feelings of deprivation, so you can enjoy social events and dining out without guilt. [3]


Embarking on a weight loss journey can be daunting, but with the right approach, it is possible to overcome the challenges that come your way. It is important to remember that weight loss is not just about physical changes but also about addressing the emotional aspects that often accompany it.

If you want more tips on weight loss, visit our weight loss blog for more information.

The content provided in this article is based on thorough research and in some cases, reviewed by a medical professional. Our goal for the information is to provide helpful, general health information. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.