What Do Weight Loss and Falling in Love Have in Common?
We are now well into the year 2017 and hopefully, those dreaded New Year’s resolutions are still going strong. It is a very good sign if you reach February and are still sticking to your goals. Many people have simply given up by this time. Traditionally, the desire to lose weight is one of the most popular resolutions. However, it is also very difficult to accomplish. The journey to lose weight is filled with ups and downs, starts and stops, and frequent frustration and angst. Actually, the quest to lose weight is just about as difficult as finding your one true love in life. You know, that one special person who makes butterflies flutter in your stomach and starts your head spinning. Hold on a minute! Are we talking about falling in love or losing weight? The truth of the matter is that the two are very similar as they have many of the same physiological and psychological effects. Follow along and we can seek an answer to the question-what do weight loss and falling in love have in common?
1. They Both Make You Light-Headed and Dizzy
Have you ever rushed home after an intense workout in the gym to a glorious supper of 5 carrot sticks? If so, the odds are that you felt light-headed and dizzy in your effort to lose weight. These symptoms can be a direct result of low blood sugar which results from not consuming enough calories. Also, according to the Mayo Clinic, many diets are lacking in carbohydrates. This is an issue as the brain controls our balance, and also prefers carbohydrates as the main energy source. (1) When the primary energy is depleted, dizziness will occur. This will all combine into leaving an individual anxious, light-headed and sweaty. Actually, that is exactly the same way most people feel right before a date with their special new love interest. The truth of the matter is that these symptoms of falling in love intrinsically mirror those of losing weight. According to “sex expert” Simone Bienner, falling in love will release a multitude of chemicals in the body, such as phenethylamine and oxytocin. In turn, this will lead to being light-headed and dizzy. (2) It all comes down to the body chemistry.
2. They Are Both Endorphin-Fueled
In order to lose weight in a natural and well-balanced manner, it is vital that proper diet and regular exercise are both incorporated as part of the plan. It is a matter of burning off more calories than are consumed. That being said, when activity level is increased a number of changes take place in the body. Essentially, the increase in activity level leads to the brain releasing powerful “feel good’ chemicals known as endorphins. This is exactly what people mean when they refer to such things as a “runners high.” Endorphins are the body’s natural chemical pain relievers and are released when exercising to minimize discomfort. This natural painkiller is also released during the sexual contact which accompanies being in love. I suppose it could be referred to as the “lovers high.”
3.They Both Lead to Despair When There Is a Setback
Trying to lose weight can be difficult and frustrating. Carefully watching one’s diet, coupled with sticking to a regular exercise routine is quite demanding. Throw in the typical busy workday and frantic home life and we can easily see why people quickly deviate from the resolution to lose weight. It takes sheer willpower and determination. Considering the magnitude of such an investment, it can be particularly distressing when such dedication is not rewarded with results. Nevertheless, that is exactly what happens quite often when people are trying to shed some pounds. There can be a variety of reasons that this happens, including water retention from exercise, increased weight of muscle mass, and actually eating too little which in turn slows the metabolism down. (3) Whatever the reason, not losing weight after trying so very hard leads to feelings of hopelessness, irritation, and despair. This is very similar to being in an unrequited love situation. People will frequently invest everything they have into their love interest. They will freely give their love, mind, and soul to their ideal mate. It can be incredibly painful and heart-wrenching when that love is not returned in kind. In fact, it will lead to the same type of hopeless feelings and despair one encounters when their life-altering weight loss plan begins to fail.
4. They Both Lead to Binge Eating
When individuals are attempting to lose weight, they will often restrict the amount of calories which they consume. Unfortunately, sometimes they will reduce their calorie intake far too much and thus begin to actually starve themselves. We have all most likely heard the term, “starvation diets” which is tossed around in the media so much. Other than having a very detrimental impact on the body, such drastic calorie reduction will frequently produce the opposite of the desired result. In fact, the well-known Minnesota Starvation Experiment found that prolonged restriction to food can lead to serious psychological and physiological issues. (4) Most people will become entirely preoccupied with food when it is severely restricted. This will ultimately mean many will succumb to binge eating, which will, in turn, reduce all the progress they had been making towards any type of sustained weight loss.
While ill-conceived weight loss plans can lead to binge eating, the emotions experienced when somebody is “in love” can have very similar results. Love contains a vast array of emotions and it is a proven fact that emotional eating is a coping method for individuals. Many people who are experiencing the emotional roller coaster of love, will use binge eating as a distraction and self-soothing technique. (5) Indubitably, dieting and falling in love both produce emotions which in turn can lead to negative and harmful binge eating.
5. They Both Lead to Obsession
When an individual commits to a weight-loss plan, they can very easily find themselves becoming obsessed with it. Every waking moment becomes about how many calories does “Food A” contain, and did they reach their exercise goals for the day. Scientific research has found that dieting will stimulate appetite and magnify food cravings. (6) Likewise, people have a tendency to become obsessed with their exercise routine. Feelings of guilt and even shame will accompany a missed workout. Exercise addiction is actually a real thing and affects approximately 3% of all those committed to an exercise plan. (7) All that being said, now compare the aforementioned facts with the actual definition of obsessive love:
“A state in which one person feels an overwhelming obsessive desire to possess another person toward whom one feels an intense attraction with an inability to accept failure or rejection.”
In truth, when someone is in love, the majority of their daily thoughts center around their love interest. There can be very little doubt that both weight loss and love have a very obsessive component!
Essentially, it has been shown how the resolution to lose weight has an awful lot in common with falling in love. They both have a number of physiological and psychological effects upon the body which are quite consistent. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that when starting something new, such as losing weight or pursuing a fresh love interest, it is wise to proceed slow and easy. This will make any potential change more meaningful and sustainable in the end.
1. Weight Loss and Dizziness. S.F. Gate
2. What Love Does to You: The Physical Effects of Falling in Love. Rebecca Twomey. Cosmopolitan. 2012
3. 6 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight. Alexa Joy Sherman Fitness. 2013
4. Binge Eating Trigger Revealed. Dr. Lavania Rodriguez
5. Emotional Eating. A Weigh Out
6. Why Dieting Makes You Fat. Josh Nash. Mail Online. 2012
7. How Many People are Addicted to Exercise. Katherine Schreinier and heather Hausenblas. Psychology Today. 2015