psychological barriers to weight loss

What Are The 5 Psychological Medical Barriers to Weight Loss?

psychological barriers to weight loss

The most common myth when it comes to weight loss is that it only involves exercise and a diet change. It would be great if these were the only two factors involved, but several other factors go into weight loss than most people think. Most people struggle with weight loss, and sometimes the individual’s emotional, medical, and environmental issues pose a significant challenge. Often individuals experience the mental challenge of losing weight.

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Below are some common psychological and medical barriers to weight loss and how to overcome them.

What Are Some Biggest Barriers to Weight Loss?

Weight loss extends beyond working out and eating low-calorie foods. Sometimes trauma and weight loss go hand-in-hand, and it’s about time people thought of cultural considerations when discussing weight and weight loss.

Below are five psychological barriers to weight loss: 

       1. Stress

Stress is the number one contributor to weight gain today. Most people don’t know that stress affects their weight. Whenever you’re stressed, your body is stimulated to releasing a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol release results in high levels of insulin which circulate your system

In turn, your blood sugar crashes, and you start craving sweet foods, junk or begin to overeat. While there isn’t much, you can do to avoid getting stressed out, and you can take some steps to help you manage your response to some stressful situations.

For example, if you’re craving something sweet;

  • Go for fruits instead of sugary snacks
  • Take long, deep breaths
  • Meditate for about 15 minutes to help calm your mind
  • Listen to your favorite songs 
  • Take a walk, Nature provides a calming effect to one’s mind

       2. Poor Sleeping Habits

Irregular sleeping patterns also contribute significantly to weight loss. While poor sleeping habits might get brushed aside for weight gain contribution, the truth is that lack of enough sleep or getting poor quality sleep affects your body hormones resulting in you feeling hungry.

Lack of good quality sleep may also affect how well your mind performs, which renders you incapable of making informed decisions. You are also more likely to give in to get some sugary quick fixes such as grabbing ice-cream in the middle of the night for an energy boost.

To improve the quality of sleep you receive and the hours you log;

  • You should have a consistent sleeping schedule
  • Minimize the amount of screen time you receive before bed
  • Avoid caffeine after 3 pm
  • Keep your room dark by using blackout curtains or blinds
  • Exercise daily

       3. Long Work Hours

Whenever you work long hours or do overtime, you may find it hard planning a regular time slot for exercise. The number of people eating lunch at their desks or skipping lunch altogether might surprise you. Studies prove that sitting all day can have adverse effects on your weight.  

medical barriers to weight loss

5 Unknown Psychological Barriers to Weight Loss

One effective strategy is always to have a 15-minute lunch break for taking a walk. Alternatively, you can jog in the mornings and take small interval breaks the rest of the day. Exercise makes you productive and helps you make informed decisions.

       4. Lack of Time

As a working individual, sometimes it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you want to do. You, however, always find time to do some of the essential things about your work and family. So why not make your health a priority too?

An excellent way to do this is to create a schedule and stick to it. Pencil in working out, plan your calendar and buy healthy foods, [1*] and you’ll start finding time to do everything you need to do. Sometimes you’ll find that some of these things might take a lot less time than you thought they would. Often the things you thought you didn’t have enough time for, such as exercising, become part of your daily routine, and you can’t do anything without them.

       5. The Need to See an Instant Change

Some people start working out and expect to see some changes within one week. These people often find themselves getting caught in the trap of thinking that they’ll never see a difference or they’ll always be overweight. The reality is that change takes time. 

It would help if you also had consistency and dedication for you to avoid weight gain. Having an all-or-nothing type of thinking will have you struggling to return to a healthy eating style after indulging a little. Instead, you will likely give up and assume that dieting is a failure. 

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What Are the Five Factors That Affect Weight Loss?

Sometimes the factors affecting weight loss aren’t so clear.

However, if you can pinpoint the causes, you should consider these five culprits.

       1. Age

You’ve probably heard about some people gaining some weight as they get older. Many people usually blame their sudden ageing weight gain on a slow metabolism, and as it turns out, they aren’t wrong. Experts say that as people age, their muscles get replaced by fat, resulting in a slower metabolism allowing the weight to start packing on.

Often people don’t realize that their metabolism is changing and continue to eat as usual. Experts say that the issue affects mostly women in menopause as they experience a drastic decrease in estrogen levels, leading to a change in fat distribution.

       2. Genes

Genetics constitutes a large portion of our weight gain. Studies conducted on the subject suggest that genetics contribute to about 30% and 70% weight gain [2*] . Recent studies have found that about 5% of people have gene mutations that directly cause obesity by stimulating an increased appetite.

       3. Medications

Medications and their ability to stimulate weight gain in individuals is a tricky subject. However, everyone’s body is different, and people react differently to certain medications. If you’ve found that you recently began gaining a significant amount of weight after starting a prescription, you should consult with your doctor.

Some medications cause water retention, bloating, and carb cravings, such as antidepressants and birth control pills. Some of these medications also make it difficult to lose weight, so you need to watch out for any drug that affects your weight gain or loss.

       4. Diet

Your eating habits may increase your chances of weight gain significantly. If you eat high-calorie foods, fat, and sugar and drink beverages with added sugars, the chances are that you’ll start gaining weight with time. Some foods might also be healthy but aren’t appropriate for weight loss. Foods such as avocados and dried fruits might be healthy foods but are also high in calories.

Instead of banning these foods from your diet, you should balance how much of them you consume. Don’t go overboard and ensure that the portions you take are appropriate and healthy.

 5. Sex

An individual’s sex may affect where their body stores fat. Studies show that obesity is more common in women than in men. Women build up fats in their buttocks and hips while men build up fat in their belly and abdomen.

psychological barriers to weight loss

How to Overcome The Psychological Barriers to Weight Loss?

What Medical Conditions Can Stop You From Losing Weight?

You may be dedicated to following a strict diet and have a weight loss plan, but your weight remains the same. Often there is a medical condition that is hindering you from achieving a healthy weight. Sometimes if the stubborn weight doesn’t go away, there could be an underlying medical condition hindering your weight-loss ability. If you have one or most of these conditions, it is best to talk to your doctor to get your weight back on track.

       1. Hypothyroidism

The thyroid gland is found under your neck and is responsible for producing various hormones that regulate multiple processes in your body. In some people, the thyroid gland is either underactive or overactive. If you have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), your thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone to keep your cells functioning.

Hypothyroidism causes everything else in your body to slow down, including your metabolism. People with hypothyroidism usually have a hard time losing weight. They also experience sluggishness, small concentration spans, fatigue, muscle pain, and severe PMS.

       2. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome, otherwise shortened to PCOS, comes about when there is a hormonal imbalance.

The most common symptoms of PCOS include;

  • Acne
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Excessive facial hair
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Thinning hair
  • Unexplained weight gain

While there is no known cure for PCOS, it is manageable through lifestyle factors such as exercise, a healthy diet, and weight management. Managing this condition helps reduce the risk of heart disease, uterine cancer, and risk of infertility.

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       3. Cushing’s Syndrome

Increased levels of cortisol in the body for a long time can result in Cushing’s syndrome. Cushing’s syndrome’s most common characteristic is weight gain, usually in the upper body and face, acne, high blood pressure, and irregular periods. Cushing’s syndrome often occurs in women between the ages of 25 and 40 years.


Many factors hinder weight loss and contribute to weight gain. If you find that you’re struggling with weight loss and are gaining a lot of weight while maintaining a balanced diet, consult with your doctor. They are in a better position to provide you with the best solutions for your situation. At EZCare, we care about you and want you to achieve your ideal weight. Talk to us to get started on your weight loss journey today.


+2 sources
  1. Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight. (2023)
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  2. The Genetics of Obesity. (2010)
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