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3 Ways to Get Motivated to Lose Weight

04 May, 2017
Q As-Salamu Alaykum dear counselor. My problem is my weight. It seems like I have no motivation to lose it. First, it was just my mother and my family nagging me to lose it, but now that I have recently got married, my husband too wishes that I lose my extra weight. It’s not like it won't come off; it’s just that I don't ever try. I give into my craving and always think that oh, I'll start from tomorrow. I start going to gym, but then I stop it. I say to my mom I'll do it tomorrow just so that she lies on my back. Every year, I gain more and more fat. I want to do it, but I just can't get to doing it. It seems to me as if I'll be fat all my life and people will judge me for it. I feel like by being so lazy, I have already lost so many opportunities and I keep on doing so by procrastinating. I am so delusional about my image. The only way I know the extent of how huge I've become is when someone shows me a random picture of myself. I need you to help me with the motivation. I know all the health benefits and everything, but even that doesn't affect me. Will I always be the fat loser who had the potential to look good but hasn’t done anything about it? I feel so sad about it.



As-Salamu ‘Alaikum dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us. I am so sorry to hear of your sadness concerning your weight. It is a problem that plagues many in our society these days.

While you did not say how much you were overweight, nonetheless it deserves your attention. I am particularity concerned about “why” you feel unmotivated to lose weight. I ask you to ask yourself the following: “Do I deserve to be healthy? Do I deserve to look and feel good? What will happen if I DO lose the weight? Am I afraid to lose the weight, and if so why?”

The questions I ask you to contemplate in sha’ Allah are related to your emotions and feelings of self-worth. They uncover why you feel you cannot commit to a weight loss program.

According to The Health Community, people tend to use food when bored, depressed, angry, or anxious. There are often triggers to overeating or choosing not to lose weight. Once these are identified, they can be a useful tool in preventing overeating, eating more healthy, exercising, as well as addressing self-esteem issues that often go along with overeating.

Get Motivated!

There are many techniques and self-help tactics we can use to lose weight. However, your problem seems to be with motivation, so I will address that.

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You also appear to know how to lose weight, so the question is: why do you not want to?

PsychCentral postulates that there are reasons people are not motivated to lose weight. There could be many reasons. Ask yourself “how do I benefit from being obese?” Be honest! Make a list of the ways you and your life in general benefit from being obese.

Also, keep a daily journal concerning your emotions, how you feel, and what precipitates you want to go to the gym and then not going. What factors lead you to eat foods you know are unhealthy?

It is said that for every emotion, there is a reason for a response and also for a lack of response. What are your reasons? Please document them. You may have to dig deep in your emotions and do in-depth inner self-exploration to find these reasons, but they are there.

In your journal, please also include a list of your positive qualities; things you are good at and the things you love about yourself. It can be anything from “I am good at writing and learning” or “I have lovely hair” to “I help people who are in need”. “I am a good wife”. These things in sha’ Allah will give you a clearer picture of your unconscious views about yourself.

PsychCentral notes several responses from their clients when asked: “How do I benefit from being obese?”. Clients responded such as “My obesity gives me an excuse. I am not held to the same standards as others. They don’t expect it because I am morbidly obese.” Another will chime in, “My obesity keeps men away; I was sexually abused by my dad for 4 years of my life.”

Do any of these reasons resonate with you? If so, please highlight them in your journal.

I would suggest that if serious issues such as molestation, rape or other abuses have occurred in your life, you seek professional help from a clinician in your area. Also, seek professional help if you suffer from depression, anxiety, fear and so forth. If the reasons are not as severe, in sha’ Allah, please continue with the self-analysis of “how do I benefit from being obese”.

notebook-1840276_960_720After you have made a list of how you benefit from being obese, I suggest you make a list of how you would benefit from losing the weight. Compare the lists. Which one looks more appealing to you and your life? Looking at the benefits, are you ready for motivation?

PsychCentral further notated that “When patients begin to understand what they are protecting or avoiding with their weight, they can effectively work a weight loss program and keep the weight off. “ This is encouraging because once we identify why we are not motivated, we can work on these factors to correct any faulty thinking. We can begin to shed not only toxic thinking but also the weight that often accompanies it.

Finally, you mentioned that your mom and your husband have been nagging you to lose weight. Often those that love us can do more harm than good. Constant nagging sometimes leads to a paradoxical effect in which the person being nagged about a specific behavior does just the opposite. Therefore, I suggest you look at that as well.

Are you keeping the weight on in order to demonstrate your power of control over your own self and life decisions? In cases of anorexia or bulimia, people will not eat as they feel this is the only power they have in their lives – the control over what they put in their bodies and what they do not. While others banter on about what they should do, the power to eat remains theirs alone. The same can be said of obesity. Only you can decide when you will lose the weight, no one else.

With that said, sister, I would encourage you to consider that Allah (swt) has created us. He gave us our bodies. We, as the blessed inhabitants of our bodies, must ensure we respect and take care of that which Allah (swt) has created.

Prophet Muhammad (saw) warned us about the dangers and health hazards of overeating. He advised us to fill our stomach with 1/3 food, 1/3 drink, and 1/3 for air.

“I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say: ‘A human being fills no worse vessel than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must (fill it), then one third of food, one third for drink and one third for air.’” (Ibn Majah)

 “No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.” (Ibn Majah)

You see sister, we also have an obligation to Allah (swt), our Creator to keep our bodies fit and healthy.  We avoid other harmful behaviors and substances to remain healthy and halal. So, why wouldn’t we lose weight if we needed to?

Keep in prayer, making du’aa’ to Allah (swt) to help us lose weight and remain motivated. I also encourage you to view yourself as a beautiful woman Allah (swt) created. So, when you do lose weight, and in sha’ Allah you will, you will have already installed in yourself a healthy self-image.



Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise through your decision in the use of our services.

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha has a PhD in psychology, an MS in public health and a PsyD. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years at Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. She has worked with clients with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, trauma, and OCD. She also facilitated support groups and provided specialized services for victims of domestic violence, HIV positive individuals, as well youth/teen issues. Aisha is certified in Mindfulness, Trauma Informed Care, Behavioral Management, Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Confidentiality & Security. Aisha is also a Certified Life Coach, and Relationship Workshop facilitator. Aisha has a part-time Life Coaching practice in which she integrates the educational concepts of stress reduction, mindfulness, introspection, empowerment, self love and acceptance and spirituality to create a holistic healing journey for clients. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocates for prisoner rights/reentry, social & food justice, as well as advocating for an end to oppression & racism. In her spare time, Aisha enjoys her family, photography, nature, martial arts classes, Islamic studies, volunteering/charity work, as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.