Common knowledge says there's no better time than the present, but is *now* always the best time to start trying to lose weight?

By Julia Malacoff
Advertisement
Photo: Creative Caliph / Shutterstock

You've heard it before: "There's no time like the present to take control of your health." In a sense, this statement is obviously true. There's certainly no convenient time to make diet or lifestyle changes, since circumstances are never perfect and making new habits is generally a challenge. But if you don't have any urgent health issues, is now always the best time to prioritize weight loss?

When we came across this rant video from trainer and influencer Sohee Lee, it got us thinking: Is the advice that there's no better time than the present to lose weight/tone up/lose body fat-a nugget of diet "wisdom" so often seen on social media-actually sound?

"Many people, fitness and nutrition professionals included, may tell you that now is the best time to diet no matter what, and that there should never be any excuses not to lose weight," Lee wrote in her caption for the video. "I beg to differ, and I actually think that telling people this without appropriate context can set them up for frustration." (BTW, here's why more women are trying to gain weight through diet and exercise.)

In the full video, Lee goes on to explain that while she understands the intention behind the "tough love" attitude, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition, and telling people that now is always the best time could inadvertently set them up for failure. (Though she's careful to point out that people who are experiencing health complications related to obesity probably shouldn't wait to lose weight.)

Instead of defaulting to the "now is the right time" mindset, Lee suggests evaluating your current priorities. If fat loss isn't near the top, set it aside for now. Why? Well, it's pretty frustrating to be in a "dieting mindset" and not see any results because you simply don't have the time, energy, or desire to maintain the calorie deficit required for weight loss. Plus, she points out that dietary restriction and feelings of deprivation are correlated with yo-yo dieting, weight regain, and stress around weight and body image in general. Obviously, these aren't things you want to be dealing with, so if you don't have the ability to commit to healthy, sustainable weight loss at the moment, why force it? That doesn't mean you can't focus on living a healthy lifestyle without losing weight.

But do other experts in the field agree with this approach? "Waiting to lose weight is okay advice for everyone, whether they have more weight to lose or are at a 'healthy' weight," says Ashley Reaver, a registered dietitian. In fact, many dietitians look out for signs that clients are not ready to lose weight before putting them on a meal plan that would encourage weight loss.

"Some clients just aren't mentally or emotionally 'ready' to lose weight," explains Eliza Savage, a registered dietitian with Middleberg Nutrition. "It's something that they need to have the motivation and drive to do. Unfortunately, I can't be there every time they are tempted."

In particular, dietitians often want to check in on a person's motivation for losing weight. "As a health practitioner, I think it's important to understand the root desire for weight loss before prescribing any type of plan," Reaver says. "If the motivator isn't general health, then it's helpful to shift the focus there first." While there's nothing wrong with having aesthetic goals, it's better for those to be secondary to increase the chances of long-term success.

A little self-love, regardless of your current weight, is also key, Reaver notes. "One clear sign that a person may not be ready to lose weight is a negative body image. Using any derogatory descriptors about their body is a clear warning flag. Couple these adjectives with a lack of self-worth or inability to view any positive qualities about themselves, and a cycle of failed weight loss is likely to continue. Additionally, people with this mindset about weight loss are likely to experience guilt and stress, two emotions that can contribute to developing unhealthy eating behaviors, either severe restriction, binge eating, or both."

And then there are the circumstantial factors. "If there is a lot of stress in your life, such as a move, breakup, new job, or family issues, I usually suggest being lenient and patient with yourself until things settle down," Reaver says. "Compounding the stress from life changes with expectations for weight loss can be too much."

Of course, stress isn't a reason to put off weight loss forever. "After a certain amount of time, re-evaluate your stress and whether or not it is a healthy time to add in a weight-loss goal." But remember: Exercise is a pretty legit stress reliever (we love this stress-relieving HIIT workout).

Plus, there's the fact that even if now isn't the right time for weight loss, it's never a bad time to improve eating habits overall, especially if your goal is better health. "Weight isn't the only risk factor for disease," says Lauren Harris-Pincus, a registered dietitian and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. "Improving the quality of your diet is the simplest option to improve health."

Long story short? Now might not always be the right time to try to lose weight, but it's always a good time to incorporate more whole, plant-based foods into your diet, Harris-Pincus says. Need another reason to up your plant intake? Science says eating more fruits and vegetables can make you happier.

Comments (32)

Anonymous
February 2, 2019
My life is totally transformed after I followed this diet. https://bit.ly/2safCoC Have Lost 27 pounds in last 1 month and feeling great about myself.
Anonymous
January 23, 2019
This controversial method can make you lean fast: https://bit.ly/2DmMBxk
Anonymous
January 14, 2019
Hi, my name is Kate and I would like to share my story. Up until about 2 years ago, I was 30 pounds overweight. Over the years I had followed many different diet plans, but failed every single time. I was "blessed" with a pear shaped body and no matter what i did, I always retained lots of stubborn fat in my lower body. Everything changed when I found the right diet program. My story is here ==> http://bit.ly/mydietstory
Anonymous
January 10, 2019
Lost 41 pounds and 4 dress sizes. I am in the best shape of my life. Wish I had seen this amazing video earlier: https://bit.ly/2xZoIIy
Anonymous
December 10, 2018
Eat this “superfruit” before bed to burn more fat: https://bit.ly/2G7zzXt
Anonymous
October 19, 2018
Unusual weight loss method that actually works: https://bit.ly/2NeMdD5
Anonymous
October 19, 2018
Discover The #1 Detox Tea That Melts Away Fat EFFORTLESSLY: https://bit.ly/2Laaysp
Anonymous
October 15, 2018
I have always been what most would consider a “big girl”. In January 2018, I weighed 180 lbs, which is quite overweight for a woman my height. I wasn’t always this weight though. In my teenage years, I weighed only 140 pounds and I felt much healthier and happier. I strived desperately over the years to get back to this weight. But with a stressful and busy work life, I struggled... continue here https://bit.ly/2QNXQm6
Anonymous
October 12, 2018
The Secret to Losing Unwanted Weight Fast and Keeping It Off: https://bit.ly/2pRzPPy
Anonymous
October 5, 2018
Lost 41 pounds and 4 dress sizes. I am in the best shape of my life. Wish I had seen this amazing video earlier: https://bit.ly/2xZoIIy
Anonymous
September 30, 2018
hey this is an extreme rapid weight loss system that can help you lose up to 16 pounds of pure body fat in just 2 weeks! watch this video here: => https://the2weekdietnow.com
Anonymous
September 12, 2018
36-year old mother of 3 Reveals The French Weight Loss Solution That Helps You Naturally Slim Down Without Exercise: https://bit.ly/2KOb2Ee
Anonymous
September 4, 2018
Did you know there’s a “deep detox” you can do first thing in the morning to burn more fat? And the good news is It only takes 13-seconds! Here it is: https://bit.ly/2x45lQy
Anonymous
August 30, 2018
Unusual weight loss method that actually works: https://bit.ly/2NeMdD5
Anonymous
August 2, 2018
Hi. If someone wants to lose weight, they should be aware of everything that they eat and drink each day. The most effective way to do this is to log every item that they consume, in either a journal or an online food tracker. Ask yourself if you are really hungry, or have a glass of water to see if you are thirsty instead of hungry. Many hunger pangs are caused by thirst instead of actual hunger. By listening to your body and eating when you are really hungry instead of when it’s the time that you normally eat can lead to significant weight loss. Another way to lose weight fast is to focus on your hormones – four hormones in particular. There is a new diet that does exactly that. If you want to learn more, click here: https://bit.ly/2ib9C92
Anonymous
July 31, 2018
The simple secret to lose weight quickly, safely and permanently without starving yourself or stepping foot in the gym. https://bit.ly/2vfKoOH
Anonymous
July 27, 2018
Every woman who wants to lose weight should watch THIS now: https://bit.ly/2mLKSZ1
Anonymous
July 17, 2018
I am sharing my experience, one of the guide helped to reduce weight within few weeks, It’s working for both men & women. That I burnt my 21Lbs Exactly 30 day’s routine simple workout and food. It’s really awesome one!!! No words to say about it. Watch the video here: http://weightlossin3weeks.com
Anonymous
June 11, 2018
Discover The #1 Detox Tea That Melts Away Fat EFFORTLESSLY: https://bit.ly/2Laaysp
Anonymous
May 24, 2018
My life is totally transformed after I followed this diet.https://bit.ly/2safCoC Have Lost 27 pounds in last 1 month and feeling great about myself.
Anonymous
May 24, 2018
Did you know there’s a “deep detox” you can do first thing in the morning to burn more fat? And the good news is It only takes 13-seconds! Here it is: https://bit.ly/2x45lQy
Anonymous
May 23, 2018
36-year old mother of 3 Reveals The French Weight Loss Solution That Helps You Naturally Slim Down Without Exercisehttps://bit.ly/2KOb2Ee
Anonymous
May 6, 2018
If you want to know how to lose weight really fast take a minute and read what I did to lose over 10 pounds in two weeks ..... http://bit.ly/2G4Gr6T
Anonymous
April 24, 2018
I'm liking my new lifestyle. I don't want to go back to how I used to live. Usually by this time into a new program I lose my motivation. But this time is different. The motivation is actually increasing. I'm feeling like my goal is truly attainable! I really can do this! In 20 days, I'm down 14.6 lbs! following this weight loss program: http://the2weekdietnow.com/lose-weight
Anonymous
April 17, 2018
Lovely information, very true and effective. I myself had gained over 20 pounds after the birth of my daughter. I could see my husband slowly losing interest in me as i got padded up with fat. Plus with age, fat was not going away no matter how hard i tried with so many things. Finally Thanks to this method, I was able to lose 18 pounds just following this system: http://leanbellybreakthrough1.club/lose-weight-fast
Anonymous
April 17, 2018
I am really surprised with the huge great articles on this magazine,and I believe lemons should be an important staple in every diet.I used to have big problems with weight loss tips, but am getting in better shape now. Here’s a good program I found that really helped. It gave me great methods and and showed me what I was doing wrong before…there’s even lots of free articles on the site - https://bit.ly/2GRnwdE
Anonymous
March 25, 2018
Shape always produces really helpful articles like these. I remember my trainer at Steel Gym giving the exact suggestions to one of the clients and after reading this, I completely believe that I have chosen the right gym in Hyderabad to join! That's how reliable I consider Shape
Anonymous
March 23, 2018
Awesome article Julia! Really opened my eyes to planning my weight loss. I'd love to get your opinion on this simple daily ritual claiming to lose belly fat FAST, please let us know your stand on this; https://bit.ly/2ILe6kp
Anonymous
March 23, 2018
Hi guys this is a nice article.You can also lose weight by click the link below to get an effective formula.https://bit.ly/2ES8zGr
Anonymous
March 23, 2018
I guess it dependes. If you are morbidly obese then now is not the best time to get in shape. Maybe after a physical from your doctor. For me keto diet is the way to go. checkout my link for a great keto resource by by Thomas Delauer (product page) https://rebrand.ly/thead5ed15
Anonymous
March 23, 2018
Hi guys this is a nice article.You can also lose weight by click the following linkhttps://bit.ly/2BVwLsY
Anonymous
March 23, 2018
Most people fight for their “perfect body” for weeks, months, or years. Some even struggle for a lifetime. Sadly, the people who do succeed in losing weight usually regain everything within a year or so. It can be truly disheartening, all these soldiers pushing the frontline forward only to regress soon after. But there is hope!!!! Thankfully, my friend, health expert, coach, nutritionist, and trainer Brian Flatt has developed a secret weapon that his clients are using to drop 1–2 pounds EACH DAY during the first weeks. He also has the secret weapon to maintain this weight loss for a LIFETIME. That's what I call a victory. See what it’s all about here: http://bit.do/2-week-diet-system