Why People Give Up and Other Sad Tales of Weight Loss

Woman eating cookie

Why People Give Up?

Weight loss is often difficult for many people who need to shed some pounds.  Many times, a person who succeeds on losing a few pounds winds up putting it back on a short time later.  Even worse, many people will not only gain back what they have lost, but will actually add on more weight on top of what they have regained.  This can certainly make a person feel like their efforts to lose weight are hopeless and that they should just give up and accept the reality that they will always be overweight and out-of-shape.

There are many factors that contribute to people having a hard time losing weight.  Once these factors are identified, it is often much easier to lose weight and see results. Losing the first few pounds can encourage people to lose more weight if they choose or need to do so, or to keep the weight they’ve lost off of their bodies for good.

Eating Triggers

Eating triggers are foods that begin a chain reaction of overeating to the extent where one’s control is lost and great amounts of food (usually the unhealthy variety) are consumed.  Medical researchers have identified the mammillary body in the brain as the spot where food memory is stored. When the food memories are recalled they then lead to cravings for foods which may or may not be healthy for you.  These foods are triggers.1

The two most common types of trigger food combinations are fat/sugar combinations (such as cookies and ice cream) and fat/salt combinations (such as potato chips and nuts).

It is important to note that trigger foods are not necessarily the same as comfort foods, favorite foods, or food cravings though they may serve multiple purposes.  This is because it is the trigger food itself, and not a situation or emotion, that can cause you to suddenly lose control and start overeating.

The best way to combat the urge to overeat when confronting a trigger food is to avoid that trigger food for a while.  After a period of time, you can test yourself on the trigger food to see if it still causes you to overeat or not, then eat it occasionally if you’re sure you won’t overeat it again.

Situations and emotions can also be powerful eating triggers that cause to overeat.  There are five main categories of eating triggers2:

  • Social – The tendency to eat when we’re around other people, either to fit in with others or because we feel inadequate around other people.
  • Emotional – The tendency to eat as a response to stress, fatigue, depression, tension, boredom, anxiety, anger, or loneliness.
  • Situational – The tendency to eat because you have the opportunity to overeat, such as passing by a bakery, or associating it with a favorite activity, such as going to a sporting event.
  • Thoughts – The tendency to eat because of negative self-worth or creating excuses for overeating.
  • Physiological – The tendency to eat because of physical cues, such as overeating to help relieve pain.

Lack of Will Power

When people who are trying to lose weight fail, they will often blame a lack of will power for failing to achieve their weight loss goals.  There are ways to combat a perceived loss of will power, however.

One strategy involves improving your environment so you are less likely to reach for unhealthy foods when hunger strikes.  You should prepare healthy foods in advance so that they are on hand whenever you have the urge to snack.3

Another way to help boost your will power is to remove all unhealthy foods from your home and workplace so that you have little to no chance of eating these types of food when you feel the need to snack.

A third way to ensure that you keep your will power for your long-term weight loss goals is to focus more on reaching your short-term weight loss goals.  In this way, you’ll see the progress you are making and have the motivation to continue taking steps to reaching your long-term weight loss goals.3

Influence of Others

As the average size of Americans continues to increase due to the recent growth rates of overweight and obese people in America, more and more people seem to coming to the conclusion that it’s okay to be overweight and obese. They look around and see many more overweight or obese people are today than there used to be in the past, so feel as if they are in good company.3

 As a result, people who desire to lose weight, but are struggling to do so, may have more of a tendency to quit trying because they feel, “Well, I can’t do it, but being that more of society is becoming overweight and obese, I’ll fit right in and not stand out like I would have in the past.”

 In addition, there are many people in our society today who are advocating for overweight women to see themselves as just fine being overweight and that they should feel proud about themselves.  Certainly, it is good to feel proud about yourself and not let other judge you on your looks; however, being overweight or obese is not good for your helth. It’s not about beauty…it’s about good health and living a long life.

 It’s important to keep in mind that overweight and obese people are generally unhealthy and more prone to serious medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, and more.


In our fast-paced world today, it is often difficult for many of us to stop and have a healthy, quality meal.  Many of our occupations involve a lot of travelling and stopovers where we have to eat “on the run” and eat whatever is available.  Oftentimes, the foods that are available are usually unhealthy for us, especially fast food restaurants.

The key to making lifestyle changes that will enable us to lose the weight that we want is to honestly evaluate our eating and exercise habits.  Try to eat more foods with better nutrition and fewer calories, while limiting your intake of foods with high sugar and fat content.  In addition, try to do moderately strenuous exercise at lease 150 minutes per week. By combining lower calorie foods and a regular period of exercise most days of the week, you will have the momentum you need to see weight loss results, which will only encourage you to work harder to totally achieve your weight loss goals.

You Can Only Lose Weight If You Don’t Give Up!

It can be frustrating to see your hard work at losing weight not result in the efforts you were expecting. The important thing is to not give up and not to beat yourself up emotionally over it. You can always consult a registered dietician to help you shore up areas of your weight loss plan that can be hindering your efforts.  By sticking with your weight-loss plan and taking it a step at a time, you have a good chance of losing the weight you want to lose and of living a healthier life.


1 Roizen (MD), Michael F and Mehmet C. Oz, MD You On a Diet. (2009). Free Press,New York, p. 168-169.

2 Kentucky Personnel Cabinet. (2011). Weight Loss: Emotional Eating. Retrieved from Kentucky Personnel Cabinet: personnel.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/E385C455-D0D7-4692-A75A-A9210E41C4F4/0/EmotionalEating.pdf

3 Perception of others’ body size influences weight loss and regain for European American but not African American women (2009, July 28). From The National Institutes of Health: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2711516/


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